The Kimbell Art Museum Rediscovers Rare Oil Sketch

Rare oil sketch believed to be from a different artist until recently

The Kimbell Art Museum has announced that they acquired a rare oil sketch by English artist Richard Parkes Bonington on Friday.

The Kimbell announced that they discovered the oil sketch, The Interior Ambrogio, Milan, 1826, which until recently was believed to be a work from a different artist.

The Kimbell Museum said in a statement that until last summer, the sketch was believed to be the work of Scottish painter, David Roberts.

"The odds that this work would be rediscovered as one of the extremely rare paintings by Bonington are one in a million,” said Eric Lee, director of the Kimbell.

Last summer, a Texas collector showed the sketch to Lee and the deputy director of the Kimbell Museum, George Shackelford. A few days later Shackelford came across an almost identical watercolor by Bonington, not Scottish painter, Roberts.

The Kimbell said that they started researching the painting with help from a Bonington expert.

Kimbell director of conservation, Claire Barry, examined the oil sketch and compared it to another sketch of Bonington's that the Kimbell had. Barry found that there were similar techniques and brushstrokes in both pieces of art.

When Barry cleaned the painting, they also saw that Roberts signature was removed, along with layers of discolored varnish.

The Kimbell determined that the signature and date had been added to the sketch at a later time, once its connection to Bonington had be forgotten. The Kimbell believes that an art dealer might have added the signature because they thought the picture was Roberts, who had similar paintings.

Bonington is considered to be one of the most gifted landscape painters from Britain but he isn't well known because he died young and left a small body of work.

The Kimbell said that the sketch was sold in an 1829 studio sale after Bonington's death.

The sketch, The Interior Ambrogio, Milan joins another one of the artist's rare oil sketches, The Grand Canal, Vencice, Looking Toward the Rialto, at the Kimbell Art Museum. Both are on display now in the Kahn Building's north galleries.

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