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Sunday, 15 December, 2002, 15:26 GMT
Canaletto discovered in gallery
Punta della Dogana:
Punta della Dogana: Another of Canaletto's works
A painting by the Italian artist Canaletto has been found after being displayed unrecognised in an Edinburgh art collection for around 150 years.

The work was identified by Sir Timothy Clifford, director of the National Galleries of Scotland, after the painting was extensively cleaned.

It was thought the picture, which shows gondoliers and sailors at work in 18th century Venice, was a copy by an imitator or student of the artist.

It was always thought to be an inferior workshop painting

Sir Timothy Clifford

It had been valued at no more than 5,000.

Canaletto's signature was revealed after the cleaning process, which removed a blue wash that had been applied later to the original skyline.

The true value of the work - known as Grand Canal, Venice - was discovered several years after the 1995 cleaning but experts decided to research the matter before releasing the news.

Sir Timothy said the work was always thought to be "an inferior workshop painting".

It was believed to be "a pastiche in the style of Canaletto".

"From a copy worth 5,000, we have a painting worth 2m, which is very useful indeed for the National Galleries," he added.

The discovery is one of a series of important finds by Sir Timothy, who is one of Britain's leading art experts.

It will be hanging on the wall so that everyone can see it

A spokesman for Edinburgh's National Gallery
Earlier this year, it emerged that he had discovered a drawing by Michelangelo in the back room of a museum in New York during a research sabbatical.

The drawing of the candelabra, which is now worth 8m, was unanimously authenticated by scholars in Europe and the US.

Delighted museum officials in Scotland said there were no plans to sell the Canaletto, which was part of a permanent display at the National Gallery on Edinburgh's Mound.

A spokesman said: "The picture was given to the National Galleries as part of the establishing collection in 1850.

"It will be hanging on the wall so that everyone can see it."

See also:

11 Jul 02 | Entertainment
27 Feb 02 | England
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