By Beth Fisher

DETROIT (WWJ) – The Detroit Institute of Arts is conserving a 17th century Spanish painting that was discovered this year at Meadow Brook Hall — and Oakland University students are watching the work.

The DIA’s curator of European paintings, Salvador Salort-Pons spotted the work by, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, entitled The Infant Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness.

Salvador Salort-Pons (credit: DIA)

Salvador Salort-Pons (credit: DIA)

“We show them all the progress that we have made and all the things that we are learning,” said Salort-Pons, “so … they’re really having … sort of a seminar, intense seminar on how to conserve a painting and research a great Spanish master.”

Oakland University art history major Kelley Foley is taking part.

“Kind of seeing the bare bones of it has been really fascinating and I think the DIA and really Meadow Brook are giving students a really fascinating opportunity to be a part of it,” Foley said.

Once the conservation treatment to the painting and frame is completed, the work will be on loan to the DIA for five years, beginning in February 2014, before returning to Meadow Brook.

The painting belonged in the 1600s to the Italian merchant Giovanni Bielato, who donated it to Capuchin Convent of Genova. During the 1800s, it was sold to the family of the Duke of Westminster in London and in 1926 entered the collection of Alfred G. Wilson, who kept it at Meadow Brook Hall.

Salort-Pons said the DIA owns two other painting by Murillo, The Flight into Egypt and the Immaculate Conception, which will be displayed together with Meadow Brook’s The Infant Saint John in the museum’s main European Paintings gallery.

This will be the first time the painting has been on view in a U.S. museum.



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