While assessing the collection of oil paintings of the Wright Museum, professional conservator David Marquis from the Midwest Art Conservation Center had a serious case of déjà vu. In the span of four days, over 180 paintings were presented to Marquis and his colleague for condition evaluations, but when presented with the piece Rest on the Flight to Egypt, Marquis needed a moment. He asked for the history of the work and to whom it was attributed.
Marquis had seen this work before. As Marquis knows, with paintings of this time period it is common to see similar themes, compositions, iconography, or techniques especially when master painters form a “school” and take on apprentices.
The Wright attributed this work to Van Oosten, who was a student of Paul Brill. But as Marquis inspected the work more closely he became certain that this work showed the hand of the teacher. After conferring with the curator of the Minneapolis Institute of Art and referencing several show catalogs, Marquis felt confident enough to claim that the technique, distribution of icons, and even the medium (oil paint on a copper plate) were all indicative of Paul Brill.
Marquis concedes that the work may be a collaborative effort between Brill and Rottenhammer, Brill’s finest student. The Wright Museum of Art’s Rest on the Flight to Egypt, as it is turning out, may actually be a Paul Brill, instead of the School of Paul Brill.
Can you tell which is the work of Paul Brill?
Answers: A is Brill, B is Van Oosten.