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Last Updated: Friday, 14 March 2008, 17:04 GMT
Rare Mozart portrait discovered
The picture could be worth millions
A portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that lay unidentified for more than 200 years has been proved to be authentic, according to an expert on the composer.

Professor Cliff Eisen from London's King's College has spent more than a year trying to confirm that the picture was of Mozart, who died in 1791.

He said: "This is arguably the most important Mozart portrait to be discovered since the composer's death." Its significance came to light after it was bought by a US collector in 2005.

The portrait of Mozart shows the composer in profile in a red jacket.

Prof Eisen said the coat was almost exactly the same as one Mozart described to his father in a letter on 28 September 1782, even down to the buttons.

Given that there are very few authentic pictures of Mozart from the last 10 years of his life, the discovery is an inherently significant one
Professor Simon Keefe
Sheffield University

The picture is thought to date from about 1783 and be the work of Austrian artist Joseph Hickel.

King's College said the portrait was previously owned by the family of Johann Lorenz Hagenauer, a close friend and one-time landlord of the Mozarts in Salzburg, Austria.

A family story suggested Hickel gave Mozart the portrait after Mozart composed the wind serenade K375 for a member of Hickel's family.

Prof Eisen said only three other authentic paintings exist of Mozart from his "Vienna years" between 1781 and 1791.

Professor Simon Keefe of the University of Sheffield said: "This is indeed an exciting discovery.

"Given that there are very few authentic pictures of Mozart from the last 10 years of his life, the discovery is an inherently significant one.

"Needless to say, it will encourage us to think afresh about Mozart's appearance."

Regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time, Mozart created some of the most celebrated and enduring pieces of classical music before he died at the age of 35.

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