Botticelli “Imitation” Painting Turns Out To Be Real

The artwork will go on display in April.

Rachel Turnbull of English Heritage works on the painting. (Credit: Christopher Ison/English Heritage)

It might be April Fool’s Day when it goes on display, but a Botticelli painting, once thought to be a fake, is no joke.

“Madonna of the Pomegranate (Madonna della Melagrana)” was once thought to be an imitation but it turns out it’s an actual Botticelli painting- even if he actually painted it or not. Master painters often had assistants do the bulk of the work.

According to CNN, this painting is a duplicate of the original which hangs in a gallery in Italy. It wasn’t uncommon for master painters to create multiple copies of popular work.

“Being able to closely examine and conserve this painting for the first time in over 100 years has really given us the chance to get up close and personal with the paintwork,” Rachel Turnbull, English Heritage’s Senior Collections Conservator, said in a statement.

“I noticed instantly that the painting bore a striking resemblance to the workshop of Botticelli himself; stylistically it was too similar to be an imitation, it was of the right period, it was technically correct and it was painted on poplar, a material commonly used at the time.”

The painting will go on display in London on April 1 at the Ranger’s House. The work of art will be one of about 700 that were bought by a diamond magnate in the 19th century.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.