A TRIO OF WATCHES TELLS THE FASCINATING TALES OF THREE ‘LOST’ PAINTINGS
THE PERFECT CANVAS
THREE GREAT MASTER PAINTERS
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s newly launched trio of watches, Reverso Tribute Enamel Hidden Treasures, celebrates the work of three great masters from the dawn of Modern Art: from the Realism of Courbet, to Van Gogh’s Post-Impressionism, to the expressive and experimental spirit of Klimt and the Viennese Secession, they have another fascinating story to tell. Each had been hidden from the world for many decades – assumed to have been lost for ever. The stories are remarkable and improbable – each with a plot-line worthy of a novel or a heist movie.
DISCOVERING THE PAINTINGS
An emotional moment for the Grande Maison’s craftsmen.
HIDDEN TREASURES ASSUMED TO BE LOST FOREVER
A DOUBLE PORTRAIT STOLEN IN A MUSEUM
PORTRAIT OF A LADY
Painted by Gustav Klimt a year before the end of his life, Portrait of a Lady is the only known ‘double’ portrait by the Viennese artist – a fact not discovered until 1996, when a sharp-eyed art student, Claudia Maga, discovered that Klimt had painted it over another portrait, which had apparently been ‘lost’ since 1912. The story behind the painting is deeply romantic: Klimt had fallen madly in love with a young woman who became his muse. After she suddenly died, he attempted to ease the pain of his loss by painting over her portrait with a new one, of a different lady. In February 1997, during preparations for a special exhibition, the painting ‘Portrait of a Lady’ by Gustav Klimt was stolen from the Ricci Oddi Gallery of Modern Art in Piacenza, Italy. The frame was discarded on the gallery’s roof, suggesting that thieves had taken the painting out through the skylight. However, this was a decoy, since the opening was too small for the frame to fit through. Then, in December 2019, gardeners clearing ivy from an outside wall of the gallery stumbled on a metal panel. Behind it, they found a black rubbish bag containing the missing painting. Experts were quickly able to confirm its authenticity.
SLEEPING IN A STORAGE FOR 70 YEARS
VIEW OF LAKE GENEVA
A leader of the 19th-century Realist movement and a political activist, Gustave Courbet fled his native France in 1873, settling La Tour-de-Peilz near Vevey on the northern shore of Switzerland’s Lake Léman (Lake Geneva), where he was inspired by the constantly changing views across the water to the Dents du Midi mountains.In this beautiful atmospheric view of the lake, painted in the last year of his life, Courbet has captured the movement of the clouds and the sunlight on lake surface in luminous tones of silvery blue and delicate pink & white. In 1895, about 15 years after Gustave Courbet’s death, a resident of the town of Granville in Normandy gave this painting, ’View of Lake Geneva’ along with two others, to the local art museum. After World War II, they were moved into storage, where they lay forgotten for 70 years. In 1995, an expert declared that all three paintings were fakes—either intentional forgeries, or misattributed. When they came to light again during a security review in 2015, the museum’s curator consulted the leading Gustave Courbet expert Bruno Mottet, who, after extensive research, confirmed in 2017 that the lake scene was, indeed, by Courbet himself.
FORGOTTEN IN AN ATTIC
SUNSET AT MONTMAJOUR
When Vincent Van Gogh moved to the South of France in 1888, it marked the beginning of a highly productive period of artistic maturity, as he experimented with new styles of visual expression in all genres – still-life, landscape and portraiture. Painted directly from life on a summer evening, Sunset at Montmajour is an example of the artist’s quest to portray nature in new ways – here, attempting to capture the distinctive vegetation of Provence and the rich colours of the ‘golden hour’ just before sunset.In 1908, a Norwegian industrialist and collector, Cristian Nicolai Mustad, bought the painting ’Sunset at Montmajour’ through a Paris dealer. Soon afterwards, according to family lore, the French Ambassador to Sweden, an acquaintance of Mustad with some expertise in 19th-century art, dismissed it as a fake. Upset and embarrassed, Mustad immediately banished the picture to his attic, where it remained, forgotten, until after his death in 1970. Again, dismissed as a fake, it again disappeared, then reappeared briefly in 1991, when another attempt at authentication – by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam – was also dismissed. Finally, in 2011, the Museum’s experts agreed to examine the painting again, using the advanced techniques now available. Among them, chemical tests proved that the pigments matched those on Van Gogh’s palette from Arles. Two years later, in September 2013, it was declared genuine – the first full-sized painting by Vincent Van Gogh to be newly authenticated since 1928.
EXCLUSIVELY AT THE GRANDE MAISON
An exceptional artistic craft.
GUILLOCHE TRANSLUCENT ENAMEL
This technique reveals the background of the dial, which is guilloche using a century-old machine which requires considerable expertise. The enamel craftsmen then affix a layer of colored enamel, which highlights the decorative work.
Each piece showcases it own guilloche and transluscent enamel colour : barleycorn & blue-green for the Klimt, herringbone & blue-grey for the Courbet and the traditional sunray guilloche with a deep green for the Van Gogh.
MINIATURE GRAND FEU ENAMEL
As complex as it is meticulous, this technique requires exceptional expertise. Using tiny brushes, the enameller’s skill as a draftsman must not only be equal to that of the original artist but must also be reduced to a tiny scale, approximately 2 cm2.
What’s more, the colour must be controlled so as to exactly match the original work of art – and yet, with the Grand Feu technique, the nature of enamel pigment means that the outcome after firing at over 800c cannot be exactly predicted. It is a question of the artisan’s judgement, based on many years of experience.