Posts Tagged ‘Sleeping Lady with a Black Vase’

Photo: Sony.
A scene from the children’s film Stuart Little with artist Róbert Berény’s long-lost painting hanging in the background.

Wouldn’t you love to discover a missing artifact while watching an old children’s movie with a kid? That is what happened to a Hungarian art researcher who thought he was just relaxing and off work.

I saw this 2014 report from Agence France-Presse in Budapest at the Guardian.

“A long-lost avant garde painting has returned to Hungary after nine decades thanks to a sharp-eyed art historian, who spotted it being used as a prop in the Hollywood film Stuart Little.

“Gergely Barki, 43, a researcher at Hungary’s national gallery in Budapest, noticed ‘Sleeping Lady with Black Vase,’ by Róbert Berény as he watched television with his daughter Lola in 2009.

“ ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Berény’s long-lost masterpiece on the wall behind Hugh Laurie. I nearly dropped Lola from my lap,’ said Barki.

‘A researcher can never take his eyes off the job, even when watching Christmas movies at home.’

“The painting disappeared in the 1920s, but Barki recognized it immediately even though he had only seen a faded black-and-white photo from an exhibition in 1928. He sent a flurry of emails to staff at the film’s makers, Sony Pictures and Columbia Pictures, and received a reply from a former set designer on the film – two years later.

“ ‘She said the picture had been hanging on her wall,’ Barki said. ‘She had snapped it up for next to nothing in an antiques shop in Pasadena, California, thinking its avant garde elegance was perfect for Stuart Little’s living room.’

“After leaving Sony, she sold the painting to a private collector who has now brought the picture to Budapest for sale by auction.

“Berény, the leader of a pre-first world war avant garde movement called the Group of Eights, fled to Berlin in 1920 after designing recruitment posters for Hungary’s short-lived communist revolution in 1919. … According to Barki, the buyer at the 1928 exhibition, who was possibly Jewish, is likely to have left Hungary before or during the second world war.”

So what else can we learn about artist Róbert Berény? Here’s what Wikipedia says: “Róbert Berény (18 March 1887 – 10 September 1953) was a Hungarian painter, one of the avant-garde group known as The Eight who introduced cubism and expressionism to Hungarian art in the early twentieth century before the First World War. He had studied and exhibited in Paris as a young man and was also considered one of the Hungarian Fauves.

“A Berény painting titled Sleeping Lady with Black Vase, whose whereabouts had been unknown since 1928, was rediscovered by chance in 2009 by art historian Gergely Barki upon watching the 1999 American film Stuart Little with his daughter, where the piece was used as a prop. An assistant set designer had bought the painting cheaply from a California antique store for use in the film, and had kept it in her home after production ended. The painting was sold at auction in Budapest on 13 December 2014 for €229,500 [about $249,524].”

More at the Guardian, here. No firewall. Donations welcomed. Nicole Waldner’s blog has a lot more detail, here.

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