Two days have not passed when extraordinary information emerged about an early work by Klimt – the “Trumpeting Putto” fresco that was considered lost – being found somewhere in a garage in northern Austria. Lately, unknown masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci or Caravaggio are being found with enviable frequency, while discoveries connected with the work of the Austrian modernist are a relatively rare occurrence.
Art dealer Joseph Renz learned of the amazing discovery when he received a phone call from a man, whose name has not yet been disclosed, who reported that he had found a fresco in his garage depicting a cherubim against a sky-blue background. Renz’s interest was piqued and he headed to north Austria in order to examine the piece. From the very first sight, he realized what an amazing gift fate has presented him. According to Renz, this very work had graced the ceiling of Klimt’s studio in Vienna, where he lived together with his brother Ernst from 1883 to 1892. Unfortunately, at the end of 1980s when an elevator was being installed in the building, the fresco disappeared. Until now art historians long disputed the possible whereabouts of the fresco, and initially agreed to consider it lost forever.
Such a find is a godsend for any person involved in the art business. The community has not yet come to a consensus about the newly found fresco, but Renz had already received his share of world fame. He is giving interviews and always sounds enthusiastic when saying that “this invaluable and in all respects unique fresco is in a very good condition.” Strangely enough, the dealer prefers not to mention how much he paid for this rare work, but he told reporters that he intended to restore it – despite its “very good condition” – and put it up for auction next fall.
Obviously, Renz is convinced that the fresco came from Gustav Klimt’s hand, but other specialists like Deputy Director of the Belvedere Museum Alfred Weidinger, who specializes in Klimt’s works, do not share his opinion. Weidinger expressed a restrained opinion that the author of the frescoes was, in fact, Ernst Klimt – the lesser-known brother of Gustav Klimt.
The fact that sketches for “Trumpeting Putto” were found among the belongings of Ernst Klimt supports this theory, Weidinger notes. He cautiously adds that this piece cannot be called an outstanding work of art.
0In Weidinger’s opinion, “Trumpeting Putto” was at best painted by both brothers. For art dealer Joseph Renz, this comes as unwelcome news. An even worse outcome is that specialists in Klimt’s work may in fact view the newly found fresco as a fake.