A 400-year-old painting that was forgotten in a dark corner of a Des Moines venue for more than a century has been rediscovered.
Entitled “Apollo and Venus,” the work by Dutch master Otto Van Veen was painted in the year 1600.
Robert Warren, executive director of Hoyt Sherman Place, was searching for Civil War flags in a little-used storeroom when he noticed the painting wedged between a table and the plaster wall.
“So the assumption was it was tucked away there either because it needed some repair work,” he says, “or the content, because it is a full backside nude of Venus de Milo and another cherub sans clothing.”
A tag indicated the discolored piece had been donated to the Des Moines Women’s Club at Hoyt Sherman in 1923 and it was evidently forgotten in the storage area under the balcony of the auditorium. Warren says it’s impossible to know the value of the painting because it has never been sold.
“I’m sure it’s severely undervalued,” Warren says, “as it was listed for $1,500 when it first came into possession of the women’s club.”
Now that the painting has been restored, Warren is having appraisers determine its value.
The artist Van Veen is best known for being a teacher of Peter Paul Rubens.
Thanks to Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio