Connoisseurship has been neglected in recent academic writings yet new attributions and rediscoveries are still being made. Rubens has been credited with a number of rediscovered works, previously ascribed to his pupils and followers and now sold for record prices. Many are considered Rubens early works executed upon his return from Italy in 1608. ‘Samson and Delilah' (1609-10) rediscovered in 1929 by the German art historian Ludwig Burchard was bought by the London National Gallery in 1980. It differs from the engraved copy, the oil sketch and the miniature copy in the ‘kunstkamer' (art cabinet) by Frans Francken II. It was listed as a copy in the Antwerp inventory in 1655. The picture also has a number of technical anomalies. The inclusion of ‘Samson and Delilah' in the Rubens canon distorted it, and made way for similar style works. In 2001 another early painting by Rubens, the ‘Massacre of the Innocents', was rediscovered and sold for 49.5 million pounds at auction. Both paintings require efforts to consolidate their attributions and a number of exhibitions were organised with the help of the National Gallery. They are changing our perception of Rubens's early style. It is now characterized by a garish colouring, strong dark outlines and an overall crude impression. This style does not correspond with the more secure and more subtle works of the period. A reevaluation of Rubens's early years is therefore needed based on stylistic, historical and technological evidence. Standards of authenticity in Rubens's oeuvre should be raised along the lines of Rembrandt Research Project and old attributions scrutinised for inconsistencies and contradictions, with more in-depth study of major works acting as touchstones for future attributions
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