A painting displayed at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., will be included next month in a Paris museum's show of great portraits by the Italian Renaissance master Titian.
The owners of the oil portrait of the Duke of Mantua, dating to 1539 or 1540, hope the trip could restore the work's tarnished reputation and add tens of millions of dollars to its market value.
"I've been working on this for eight years, and this is the point to have it seen," Aaron De Groft, director of the College of William and Mary's Muscarelle Museum of Art, said Monday. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime sort of exhibition of major portraits by Titian."
Thomas Dossett, a lawyer in Kingsport, Tenn., acquired it with three partners 30 years ago knowing that an art historian's written comments in 1938 had cast doubts on its authenticity. He spent years researching the painting and its history, and he eventually sparked De Groft's interest.
De Groft did his own research and has advocated in scholarly papers and lectures his belief in the authenticity of the painting, which has been on long-term loan to the Muscarelle Museum.
The painting's presence in the Titian show does not represent the art world's absolute judgment that it is a Titian, but it does have huge significance.
Curators of the Paris show, which will run Sept. 13 to Jan. 21 at the Musee du Luxembourg, not only asked for loan of the painting but also asked De Groft to write the catalog entry.