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Missing Masterpiece - The Funeral of Phocion

Portrait of Nicolas Poussin
Nicolas Poussin
1594 - 1665

The Funeral of Phocion

The picture was painted in 1648 for a wealthy friend of the artist named Gerisier. It represents a view of the city of Athens and has in the foreground, two slaves carrying the body of a statesman who had refused to be bribed and as a result had been condemned to death by being forced to drink hemlock and given an unworthy burial.

It was still in Paris in 1665 when Louis XIV went to see it and disappeared in about 1700 soon after the death of its owner. Despite the efforts of French art expects to trace it, this proved fruitless.

Francis Edward Carey lived in the Villa Carey, in the Grange, Guernsey. Upon his death in 1921, there was a difference of opinion between his sons, de Lisle Carey and Conrad Carey over the sharing-out of the contents of the house. As a result, it was decided to hold an auction sale, at which many valuable items were sold for a paltry price. One of the sale items, a painting, was bought by a dealer.

Noted by Mrs Eva Norrish (née Carey), "My great-aunt Mrs Le Marchant writes - a dealer by the name of Barber bought this picture at the sale of Villa Carey for £7/-. In England, he sold it to a second dealer for £1200/- and the second dealer sold it to a third for £20,000 and from him the Louvre, Paris bought it for £60,000."

On close examination this painting proved to be the genuine masterpiece of Poussin having being missing for 220 years. The painting has now been re-united with other Poussin masterpieces at the Louvre, Paris, France.