For decades, scholars thought that a painting by Surrealist artist Yves Tanguy was destroyed during a raid on a Paris cinema led by two right-wing groups. Now, in a find that has shocked even those with a deep knowledge of Tanguy’s oeuvre, that painting has been found and brought back to its original state.
It turns out that that painting, Fraud in the Garden (1930), had been hiding in plain sight, in a way. The Guardian reports that the painting had been bought at auction in 1985 by a French owner who had suspected that the work may be the one that some believed was lost back in 1930, shortly after its creation. Jennifer Mass, a restorer, analyzed the work, and discovered that the painting bought at auction was indeed the original.
On one fateful night in 1930, the painting had been displayed in the lobby of Studio 28, an arthouse theater in Paris’s Montmartre district. Luis Buñuel’s L’Age d’Or (1930), a Surrealist comedy made with the intention of satirizing bourgeois and Catholic mores, was being screened, and two groups with fascist leanings, the League of Patriots and the Anti-Semitic League, raided the theater. A Salvador Dalí painting also on view was slashed, though it was ultimately saved, and is now held by the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Fraud in the Garden, which was likewise vandalized, was thought to have fared even more poorly—until now.
Mass told the Guardian that Tanguy’s painting had also been slashed, though one could only see as much using X-ray imaging. It has since been returned to what Mass called “perfect condition,” and people long doubted the veracity of its owner’s claims because the work is now in such pristine shape. Charles Stuckey, an art historian currently co-authoring a Tanguy catalogue raisonné, told the Guardian that the rediscovery “very significant.”