OAKLAND, Calif., March 21, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- While in search for a home to display this just revealed masterpiece, the mystery surrounding The Passion of Jesus Christ by French post-impressionist artist Emile Henri Bernard is as intriguing as the eccentric artist. With the celebration of Easter and the 150th anniversary of Bernard's birth, interest in the artist is on the rise with the discovery of this painting and others thought to have been hidden or stolen during the Nazis' occupation of Paris.
The recovery of The Passion of Jesus Christ began in 2000 when William Chamberlain, owner of Pacific Arts Collection, was shown the painting by his friend Uno Vallman, who had purchased it in the 1950s from the Stockholm Morgan Gallery. "Uno shared this folded, creased and damaged 7.5' x 9.5' piece of art claiming it was an Emile Bernard, though it was not signed," explains Chamberlain.
Chamberlain located Bernard's granddaughter, Dr. Lorédana Harscoet-Maire of Tonnerre, France who has made it her life's work to find the artworks and letters of her grandfather that had disappeared during the 1940 Nazi's occupation of Paris. Lorédana immediately recognized the painting as her grandfathers' evident by the rose-colored primer and the color palette that matched other paintings he had done in the 1920s/30s. Seeing the deep creases supported Lorédana's suspicion that his artwork had been sequestered or stolen; and that this piece had never been viewed since hiding such a large piece would have been difficult if framed. She attributed the absence of his signature to him saying that a great artist didn't always sign their spiritual art because it was God's work and the focus was on the glory of God.
Further authentication came from a smaller version of the painting signed/dated 1926 known as The Maquette discovered at the Musee de Beaux Arts, Brest, France. Restoration and Bernard expert from the Louvre Paris, France Bonnimond-Dumont, said Bernard was known to do several paintings of the same subject and often painted a smaller version of a larger painting. She too confirmed the authenticity of the painting as an Emile Bernard.
Restoration was given to San Francisco Bay Area expert Aiqin Zhou taking 2-1/2 years to complete. "With it authenticated and restored, I now had a piece of art, a true masterpiece, worthy of being shown to the world," says Chamberlain.
Chamberlain made numerous trips to Paris and the surrounding areas to unravel the story of this masterpiece and Bernard, a complex man known for his experimentation in art forms, inquisitive nature and his colorful lifestyle that included extensive travel, a fascination with brothels, two wives, and several love affairs.
As more research was done more questions arose. Did his mistress-turned wife, Andree Fort or his children orchestrate the disappearance of this painting and Bernard's other work? Was there collaboration with the Nazi's for profit or perhaps survival? How did he reconcile his many religious works that show a devotion to God while engaged in infidelity? Was the realism shown in his nude portraits of a 20-year-old woman from a brothel said to be the love of his life what influenced him to return to a classical, literal style of painting as seen in The Passion of Jesus Christ?
Even with these unanswered questions Chamberlain's quest remains to find the rightful home for The Passion of Jesus Christ . . . and perhaps then, Emile Henri Bernard may gain his much sought and desired recognition that was overlooked during his lifetime. www.pacificartscollection.com
CONTACT: Katherine E. Sansone, SANSONE+ PR & Marketing
SOURCE Pacific Arts Collection