Researchers with the Nivaagaard Collection in Denmark have pieced together two parts of portrait of a family painted by the Flemish master Cornelis de Vos in 1626, believed to have been skillfully separated at some point between 1830 and 1859 after sustaining damage. Photo courtesy of Nivaagaard Collection
March 11 (UPI) -- A mother has been reunited with her son and husband nearly 200 years after they were separated from each other.
Researchers with the Nivaagaard Collection in Denmark have pieced together two parts of portrait of a family painted by the Flemish master Cornelis de Vos in 1626, believed to have been skillfully separated at some point between 1830 and 1859 after sustaining damage, the museum said in a statement.
The team was first clued in when eagle-eyed observers spotted that part of a dress can be seen in the bottom right corner of the painting Double Portrait of a Father and Son, which the researchers said indicated "that the mother had been cropped away."
It was not immediately clear when and how Double Portrait received its name, but the title indicates that it was named after the painter's death and its subsequent separation.
The researchers began their hunt for the missing mother last year and uncovered a 1966 report from the National Museum of Art in Copenhagen, which included a photograph of the painting after it had been cleaned and restored.
That photograph showed the "elaborate" details of the missing woman's arm, seemingly not noticeable in the portrait's current state, which researchers said "cast fresh light on how grand and elegant" the original portrait must have been
.Jørgen Wadum, a special consultant with the Nivaagaard Collection who participated in the investigative efforts, said the team began its search by looking for matches among other women depicted in paintings by de Vos.
Wadum said luck struck when he decided to try a simple search on Google using the search term "portrait of a lady."
"It was totally unexpected!" Wadum said in a statement.
The team discovered that a work, serendipitously titled Portrait of a Lady, was auctioned at Christie's in London in 2014, which showed a woman wearing a large millstone collar like that of the father in Double Portrait.
The new owner, Salomon Lilian, a leading art dealer based in Amsterdam and Geneva, had the portrait cleaned and restored soon after its acquisition," the Nivaagaard Collection statement reads.
Restoring Portrait of a Lady included a process of removing the painting's background, which revealed that a coat of paint had been added to cover up the original backdrop.
"Behind the elegant lady, a distant landscape now began to emerge on the left side of the portrait, as well as a blue sky with white horizontal clouds overhead," the news release reads.
The new landscape appeared to match the background of Double Portrait.
Wadum said that the team also had good fortune that Lilian had decided to have the work restored, and that a picture of it had been included in a 2016 interview with CODART eZine.
The height of the painting of the mother is less than half that of the painting of Double Portrait, which was already in the Nivaagaard Collection, further suggesting that the two portraits were once one.
The Nivaagaard Collection has since obtained a grant to purchase Portrait of a Lady and reunite the family.