Not Just Another Stained Glass Piece

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There was an exciting art discovery recently at Indiana’s Evansville Museum. A painting had been misidentified as a stained glass piece and kept in storage for 50 years turned out to be something much more valuable: an original Picasso. A GLASS Picasso.

There are over 30,000 works of art are at the museum, and many spend time in storage.The Picasso wouldn’t have been there so long if the museum would have known it was a Picasso to begin with. Museum officials say it was cataloged as art inspired by a design for a Picasso painting but credited to an artist named Gemmaux. That name turned out to be plural for “gemmail,” which is the type of glass used in the work. 

Pablo Picasso’s  “Seated Woman with Red Hat”
Donated to the museum in 1963, t
he painting had been misidentified as another stained 
glass piece - by an artist named ‘Gemmaux’, and kept in storage for 50 years. 

“When the piece came in, the documents associated with the gift indicated it was by an artist named ‘Gemmaux’, and it was from a design inspired by a Picasso oil painting,” said museum curator Mary Bower.


It wasn’t until this past February, when a New York auction house called with questions about the piece, that Bower and others found out it wasn’t just inspired by Picasso, it was created by him.


Picasso discovered the Gemmail in 1954 through Jean Cocteau at the Malherbe art studio. Fascinated by the light, the material and the transparency, Picasso contemplated the offer to illuminate all his master pieces. He made his first Gemmail art work “Femme dans un fauteuild’osier” in 1954.

Picasso shared his discovery and his creations with George BraqueThe two artists had tried to introduce volume and a new perception of shapes through cubism. Braque who was always looking for new artistic techniques and materials was won over by the Gemmail and created several works himself. He stated : ” If I were thirty years old, I would be known as the Gemmist Braque.”

The Evansville Museum says the piece titled “Seated Woman with Red Hat” was donated to the museum in 1963.

“In the history of our museum, this is the most important moment,” said museum director John Streetman. “This is the biggest thing that’s happened to the museum or probably will happen to the museum. It’s enormous.”

Enormous is also a way to describe the price tag that museum officials say would come with keeping the art safe it if was put on display.

“The value of the piece makes it prohibitive for us to insure it. Then we would have all sorts of considerations about staffing all sorts of electronic additions, to what we do with our facility that just makes it impossible to keep, and we’re so sad about that,” Streetman said.