Paris, Jun 27 (AP/UNB) — It's been hanging on people's walls for almost 170 years without drawing much attention, but a painting showing a group of women has turned out to be more than meets the eye.
The most recent owner of the picture, a Parisian woman, has found out that what she has is a long-forgotten painting by 19th century French Romantic artist Eugene Delacroix.
"A woman walked into the gallery with a painting under her arm, telling me she'd just visited the Delacroix exhibit at the Louvre Museum ... and that she thought her painting shared some resemblance" with the artist's "Women of Algiers in their Apartment," said Philippe Mendes, director of the Mendes Gallery in Paris.
"I took a look at the painting, which was dirty and with a very thick yellow varnish, but I felt it had Delacroix's very particular style. So I said, let's clean the painting and let's see what comes out of it," he told The Associated Press in an interview.
"After we cleaned it, the radiant and extraordinary colors typical of Delacroix really stood out and we knew we had to start doing some real research."
The painting, now hanging in Mendes' gallery as he negotiates with a U.S. museum seeking to buy it, shows a pale woman seated and an African slave standing next to her, looking at the other woman over her shoulder. The same scene is captured in "Women of Algiers in their Apartment," which was painted after in 1833-34 after Delacroix visited North Africa. That painting now lives in the Louvre.
Art historian and Delacroix expert Virginie Cauchi-Fatiga investigated the curious canvas at Mendes' request. She analyzed the technique and use of colors, compared it with other Delacroix paintings, then used infrared and X-ray images to look deeper.
After more than a year of examination, her verdict: She says with "absolute certainty" that the painting is a Delacroix work, a study for "Women of Algiers." The study was sold at auction in 1850 and hadn't been shown in public since.
She called it a discovery "of prime importance, because it really is a gateway into the artist's mind right at the moment" he was working on "Women of Algiers."
"The colors are distinctive of Delacroix's work, but it's also about how they are associated," she said. "He doesn't use color in the same way as other big classical painters - color is not an accessory for him. He shapes his painting around colors."
The painting bears no Delacroix signature, since it is only a study, she said — but does bear a stamp at the back of the canvas reading "118."
That matches the number listed for the study in the catalog of paintings sold at auction in 1850 by the Count de Mornay, a diplomat who sponsored Delacroix's trip to North Africa, Mendes said. Lot 118 was bought for a private collection, and its subsequent movements aren't known.
The Parisian woman bought the painting about 10 years ago with her father, but does not want to be publicly identified, Mendes said.
He also showed the canvas to experts at French museums that hold Delacroix paintings and received an export certificate from the Culture Ministry identifying it as a Delacroix work.
The National Eugene Delacroix Museum in Paris and its parent, the Louvre, would not comment on the painting because it is on the open market, but did not question its authenticity. The Metropolitan Museum in New York, which hosted a Delacroix exhibit in 2018, would not comment on a work outside its collection.
No one would comment on the possible value of the painting.
Paul Exbrayat of the Britain-based Art Loss Register said the painting had not been listed on international databases as missing or stolen, and described it as just long-dormant. "It has woken up from a long slumber, like Sleeping Beauty," he said.
New York, Jun 26 (AP/UNB) — Comedian and actor Sebastian Maniscalco will host MTV's 2019 Video Music Awards.
He'll be joined at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on Aug. 26 by some of the industry's biggest stars as they celebrate the year's music videos.
Executive producer Bruce Gillmer says Maniscalco's "comedic spin on relatable topics will make this year's show truly unforgettable."
Maniscalco is currently on his North American "You Bother Me" tour.
The 45-year-old was the 2018 Billboard "Comedian of the Year" and made his feature film debut last year in the Oscar-winning "Green Book."
He'll next be seen on Netflix in Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman," with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.
Paris, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Paris-based UN educational and scientific body UNESCO on Monday unveiled the list of projetcs on best practices for the protection of underwater cultural heritage, which includes schemes from France, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia and Mexico.
"Designated on the recommendation of UNESCO's Scientific and Technical Advisory Board (STAB), best practice examples are projects presented by States Parties that promote responsible public access to underwater cultural heritage, promote scientific research and ensure the sustainable management of archaeological sites," UNESCO said in a statement.
The projects, which entered Best Practices Register for Underwater Cultural Heritage Protection, are France's excavation, reconstruction, restoration and presentation to the public of the Barge Arles-Rhône, underwater cultural heritage in the Chinchorro Bank from Mexico, subaquatic archaeological charter of the Azores from Portugal, Slovenia's the Ljubljanica river phenomenon and the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes Project (Spain).
"By designating these best practices, UNESCO promotes concrete and directly applicable solutions for the protection of underwater heritage. I call on all states and stakeholders concerned to draw inspiration from them to amplify the drive to protect these remains, which bear the memory of our human history," said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
Adopted in 2001, the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage aims to provide better protection for the millions of wrecks and historic remains preserved on the seabed, and halt looting and increasing destruction of underwater heritage.
The Convention also targets to promote public access to this heritage and to encourage archaeological research. To date, it has been ratified by 61 States, according to the statement.
Zhengzhou, June 25 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Senior Chinese archaeologists have evaluated astronomical relics discovered in central China's Henan Province as the country's earliest evidence for "observing the images and giving time," advancing history by nearly 1,000 years.
Archaeologists found the "Big Dipper Nine Stars" marker at the 5,000-year-old Qingtai Ruins in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital. The size of the nine objects is basically the same as the actual brightness of the celestial body.
More than 30 astronomers, historians and archaeologists from the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Institute of History of Natural Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the National Palace Museum were invited to the site to give their evaluations of the ruins last week.
They believe the astronomical relics and the surrounding sacrificial remains constitute a whole, which is consistent with the records of the "Winter Solstice Sacrifice" in ancient Chinese documents. It is of great significance to the study of early Chinese astronomy and the origin of Chinese civilization.
The experts said the relic indicates that the ancestors of Qingtai had some astronomical knowledge, and the worship of the celestial body may have formed a grand sacrificial ceremony for observing the solar terms and praying for a good harvest.
Gu Wanfa, president of the Zhengzhou Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, said that Qingtai is a large-scale trench settlement in the Yangshao Culture period, with a total area of about 310,000 square meters.
He said nine pottery pots were arranged in the "Big Dipper Nine Stars" pattern. They were surrounded by urn coffins of the same period, tombs, mortars and sacrificial pits of different periods and other related relics.
Previous to Qingtai, the Taosi Observatory in Xiangfen County, northern China's Shanxi Province, of 4,200 years ago, represented the earliest evidence in the study of the astronomical calendar in ancient China.
The experts suggested researching the relationship between the two astronomical relics and functions of the relics.
Syria, June 23 (Xinhua/UNB) -- After the war in the Syrian northern city of Aleppo broke out, Zakaraia Qarkoush, carrying his pottery craft, escaped to the central city of Homs.
Ahead of the war, there were 13 pottery factories in Aleppo. However, the raging war has destroyed the factories and displaced the people.
Qarkoush, who inherited pottery craft from his father and grandfather, sought refuge in Homs, where the situation was relatively safer.
The passion for the craft that Qarkoush developed as a boy is the source of his survival because he wants to keep doing what he loves.
"We have inherited this job from our grandfathers and I have been working for 35 years," he said.
According to the 43-year-old craftsman, he left Aleppo with his children seven years ago and settled in the Ashirah area where the children started to learn and help him in his pottery work.
It took him two years in Homs to ponder over what to do before he finally realized that his original job was the only thing he really wanted to take.
"When the crisis erupted in Aleppo, we got displaced and came to Homs. I didn't want to leave this job because I love it so I worked in pottery in Homs with my children," he explained.
The man started making small pottery in a small workshop before his business got bigger.
In his current workshop, Qarkoush has a room for making the clay into different shapes such as vessels, water pots as well as artistic waterfalls which people buy to be displayed in their salons or the living room.
He brings the soft clay and put it on a machine while he is gently touching the clay from different angles to shape it before it gets hard.
Later, he puts it in an oven-like chamber and then in a sunny room for drying. Afterward, he brings it to a damp room for a few hours before selling.
Qarkoush said he was amazed by the high demand for pottery in Homs where the only pottery factory was destroyed during the war, which makes him the only man making pottery there.
"There is a big turnout for this kind of art here in Homs," he told Xinhua.
The craftsman said the war has largely affected pottery in Syria, adding besides his workshop, there is only one pottery factory in the capital Damascus and another in Latakia Province in northwestern Syria.
In Aleppo alone, 13 pottery factories stopped working during the war, he lamented.
"Now, I am alone here in Homs in addition to a factory in Damascus and Latakia. The war has largely affected our work because out of 100 professionals ahead of the war, there are now only 15 across Syria," Qarkoush said.
The Syrian man now works with his young children whom he taught throughout the past years in Homs.
However, he still believes that "as long as people are demanding this craft and as long as children are willing and having the passion to learn it, the craft will survive."