A professor at Willamette has attributed a painting held in the same family since the 19th Century to Peter Paul Rubens:
The search to uncover the artist behind the portrait began when De Mambro Santos’ former student, Cecilia Paolini, called him from Rome two years ago. Paolini, an independent scholar and expert in restoration and conservation of paintings at the Laboratory of Restoration in Rome, has been De Mambro Santos’ longtime collaborator on Flemish and Dutch art research. The owner of the painting, who wishes to remain anonymous, hired Paolini to to clean and restore the painting. Paolini had immediate questions about its origin and contacted De Mambro Santos, who flew to Rome to assist. […]
Analyzing the portraits’ material and chemical composition and its style, they tested and confirmed their hypothesis that Rubens was the portrait’s creator. Key factors were the presence of a yellow pigment used only by Flemish Masters in the Roman workshops of the time and the piece’s curvilinear brushstrokes.
[…] The rediscovered portrait also has historical implications. It is now Rubens’ earliest known portrait of Archduke Albert VII, who became Rubens’ most important patron throughout what became a grand and influential career. De Mambro Santos said that before this discovery, it was assumed that Rubens and Albert met after 1604 and didn’t become closely tied until 1608. The portrait may have launched Rubens’ career.
[…] The rediscovered portrait is small and was likely used as reference point for Rubens’ future work and numerous portraits of Albert that have similar attributes. The archduke appointed Rubens his court painter in 1609. Rubens traveled a great deal, especially for his diplomatic work. He probably used visual references like this piece when he had to complete a commission and was miles from Albert.
In spite of the rediscovered portrait’s historical and artistic relevance, the piece’s value is still being determined.
“I have no idea really,” De Mambro Santos said of its value. “It could be 4,000 euros or four million euros.”
Lost Rubens painting rediscovered by Salem professor (Statesman Journal)