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A collector says he has discovered the missing top half of Gustave Courbet’s famous painting ‘The Origin of the World’ which hangs in the Musee d’Orsay, Paris.
The painting on display shows a woman’s body as far up as her breasts, partially covered with sheets.
Apparently, according to the collector, whose name has not been disclosed, the portrait of the woman which formed the top half of the complete painting lay unrecognised for many years in an antique shop.
In 2010, the portrait was discovered and since then has been subjected to a series of tests to authenticate it.
Jean-Jacques Fernier, a top expert in Courbet’s work, has confirmed that the portrait belongs to the famous painter.
Originally, Courbet is thought to have painted ‘The Origin of the World’ as a single piece but later decided to cut it in half to protect the identity of his model. Experts say that model was Joanna Hiffernan, a muse to Courbet.
There are doubters however. Frederique Thomas-Martin, chief curator of the Courbet Museum in Ornans, the artist’s birthplace, told the newspaper Libération that she was not convinced the discovery was by Courbet.
She added that the official organisation of the museums of France has made no statement about the news.

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