San Diego Museum of Art acquires new masterpiece - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego Museum of Art acquires new masterpiece

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The San Diego Museum of Art has a new addition to its collection of Spanish art.

The painting arrived from a gallery in London about a month ago - prior to that it was privately owned by an Italian family for hundreds of years.

The acquisition of "Saint James the Lesser," a 17th-century painting by Spanish Baroque master Jusepe de Ribera, means SDMA now has works of four of the five great Spanish Baroque artists on its facade.

SDMA's Executive Director Roxana Velasquez said the museum wanted a de Ribera original since its inception, but his work is hard to come by. "Jose de Ribera is among the stars of the Baroque period. I think everyone will enjoy the presence of Saint James the Lesser at the San Diego Museum of Art," she said.

Painted in 1632, Saint James the Lesser depicts the apostle in a way that embodies de Ribera's signature style - naturalism.

Associate Curator Michael Brown traveled to London to examine the piece before purchasing it. Gallery officials in London had already cleaned it and noticed a signature on the bottom left hand corner.

It wasn't until Brown used his infrared lights and x-rays that he realized the piece was authentic.

"He signs Giusepe de Ribera Espanol. He always calls out the fact he is from Spain," said Brown.

The signature is impossible to see with the naked eye.

SDMA officials said de Ribera is within the same artists hierarchy as Picasso and Warhol.

The Museum of Art would not specify how much the bought the painting for, but they did say it was more than a million dollars.

The Museum of Art is open every day, expect for Wednesday, for anyone who would like to see the painting in person.

The museum will be offering free admission during December Nights.

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