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An apprentice of the Belgian Royal Library has discovered an old Brueghel engraving: a second work by the Flemish master appears hidden on the reverse of the folio.
Margaux Nogues, 23, made the discovery while recovering the photo stone cut From 1559, an engraving made by Hieronymus de Cock for Bruegel’s work. In doing so, she had to remove the piece of cardboard on which the work was pasted. Acidic cardboard can damage the print.
“I put the print in a bath with warm water. The cardboard came out very easily,” the French lady told RTBF. “When I took it off, I discovered another work on the back: a second Bruegel engraving.”
The second work turned out to be a copy of Brueghels The patientsan allegorical representation of patience from the year 1557. The personification of this virtue is surrounded by creatures such as those in the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who represent evil and sin in the world.
Bruegel also allowed himself to criticize the Roman Catholic Church by introducing figures in monk robes and a strange giant in a cardinal’s hat. These copies were banned in later versions of the inscription.
Similar engravings fetched more than 15,000 euros at auctions.
Although the library already had three copies of this picture, the institute calls it a special find. “It is unusual to find two inscriptions on the front and back of a sheet of paper,” a press release said. Straight duplex printing was not common in the sixteenth century.
Experts in the library doubt that it was evidence, because the images have different sizes. Because the edges of the image are not well aligned, it is suspected that the print was not intended for sale.
Meanwhile, Nogues is preparing to defend her thesis in September, with an extra line on her resume. “I’ve only been doing restorations for five years, but I’ll remember that for a long time.”
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