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  • Natalie Taylor

THE HISTORY OF ART: The Biblioteca’s “Mystery Room”

As I have written previously, the Biblioteca is a fine repository of art, with paintings, and books on shelves sharing space in every room. Many painting have titles and the name of the artists, but there are many that remain a mystery. No one seems to know when they were acquired, who painted them, or any other information—these are found throughout the different rooms. However, one room contains only those paintings that have never been identified—mystery paintings in the unofficially dubbed “mystery room.”

To locate this room you first enter the Catalog room, go to the room on the right, (the Reference room) then continue down toward the Fiction room, and you finally end up in the last room on that side. This is where these works of art are located.

This fairly large oil on canvas is old, and has undergone repairs. It is a countryside scene with two carts, seemingly chasing each other. The people in the first cart look festive and jolly, as if this is part of some festivity they are going to, or returning from.

The only clue is the name of the artist: Rela Fakete. The last name is Hungarian, but the origin of the first name is unknown. Rela, appears to be a very rare first name for a girl, without a specific ethnic origin. Assuming that the artist is indeed Hungarian, it might be a good guess that the painting shows a scene in Hungary. The dresses, and particularly the girl’s headdress support that hypothesis.

An intriguing painting in that room is another oil on canvas. This one is of a woman dressed in red, with a cape or coat, trimmed with fur. She wears a large, black hat—possibly fur as well. In her lap is an insinuation of a bouquet of flowers. There is a barely readable name in the left lower corner. The first name is either a B or a P, and the first few letters of the last name appears to be “Cas.”

An excellent work of art is a monochromatic drawing on paper, showing an older man with a beard. The details in the face, the expression, and hair are extraordinary. Now if only we knew who did this!

A captivating watercolor shows a young woman, possibly a peasant, hands bound in front, being escorted by two men.

The men are wearing heavy coats and what seem to be fur hats, which would indicate the scene is from a place with cold climate. They appear to be wearing 19th century garb, and could be Russian guards, taking a woman to prison.

The only substantial clue is a signature: Alia.

A painting without any clues is one that resembles works done in previous centuries. It’s a kitchen scene with a family gathered around the table, saying their prayers. There are no clues as to the artist, or any other information.

Two abstract paintings, of very different styles, also hang in the room. The woman was painted with acrylics on Masonite, and the still life with pears is a print on paper. Neither of them offers any clues as far as name of artist, or time period when they were done.

Two other unidentified works of art are found not in the Mystery room, but in the room next to it containing Biographies. The first is a drawing on paper: a study of horses standing about. There is a signature on the bottom, almost midpoint toward the right: AZ. That is the only clue on this one.

The other is an oil on canvas showing Mexican street musicians. This one is a partial mystery because we do have the name of the artist: C.M. Onate or Oñate. However, we have no information about such an artist.

So for anyone out there with a detective streak, or anyone who loves puzzles, I leave you with the information about these unidentified works of art. Perhaps someone will be able to offer an answer to these mystery paintings. And you can always walk into the Mystery room and look at the paintings yourself. Cheers!

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1 Komentar

Jane Wilkinson
Jane Wilkinson
27 Mei

There's some pretty good art squirreled away in those rooms. Thanks for your enlightening report, Natalie. Jane

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