A badly deteriorated portrait of Frederic Chopin purchased nearly 30 years ago at a Polish flea market dates back to the time of the famed 19th-century composer himself.
The discovery was revealed this week at the Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, one of the world’s most prestigious events in classical music, the AP reports.
“It is evidently Chopin, but I cannot say whether he posed for this portrait or whether it was painted from another picture,” said Dariusz Markowski, an art restoration expert and Nicolaus Copernicus University professor. “We know nothing of its history or who it was painted for. It was in a very bad state, and I’m really happy that artwork like this can be saved.”
Chopin was born near Warsaw in 1810 and died in Paris in 1849. His body was buried in the French capital but his heart was removed and is kept today in the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Warsaw.
An art collector found the peeling portrait in the early 1990s and had hung it in his home since then. Financial concerns inspired the family to seek an appraisal, according to the report.
The painting, measuring about 11½ by 9 inches, has since been restored and placed in a gilded frame and sits in a bank vault in Poland.
Markowski did not offer a value on the work, but told the AP “it has significant historic and emotional value.”
The painting’s exact origins are hard to pinpoint as only the artist’s first name, Alfred, can be seen.