Marie Laveau Painting Sells for Almost $1 Million but, it’s Probably Not Even Her
Saturday, a 185-year-old painting of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau sold at auction for almost $1,000,000. The problem is, it's reportedly not even a painting of Marie Laveau, nor is it painted by the artist thought to have painted it.
This past Saturday (05/21/22) an 1837 portrait of Marie Laveau by frontier artist George Catlin hit the floor at Brunk's Auction House.
According to newsofcanada.net, the folks at Brunk were expecting the painting to fetch "between $200,000 and $300,000."
Once the dust settled, the Marie Laveau portrait sold for a whopping $984,000.
It's believed that could be the most money ever commanded by a Louisiana painting.
It really is a remarkable painting of such a mysterious and beloved figure of Louisiana history, and painted by a celebrated and revered artist, so the nearly $1 million price tag shouldn't be that shocking.
Well, the problem is, experts say it's not Marie Laveau, and it wasn't painted by George Catlin.
That's right. The $1 million Marie Laveau painting is believed to be a hand-painted replica...of someone.
Apparently there's no evidence that proves the portrait is actually of Marie Laveau.
Experts say there's nothing mentioned about the painting in artists George Catlin's records, and also argue that the style the portrait is painted in is contradictory to what Catlin is known for.
Who Painted The Portrait Of Marie Laveau?
In 1911, Gaspar Cusachs lent the painting of Marie Laveau to the Louisiana State Museum.
As windobi.com explains -
"Claudia Kheel, a collections specialist at the Louisiana State Museum, said that during that period the museum employed a versatile individual named Frank Schneider who designed displays, built models and — most famously — painted a copy of the 'Catlin.' apparently for the painting in anticipation of the expiration of Cusachs’ loan."
So museum employee Frank Schneider painted a replica the museum could display after Gaspar Cusachs eventually took his back.
In 1922, Cusachs indeed returned for the painting, after of which, the painting changed hands through private collectors and out of the public eye.
During this time, the Louisiana State Museum displayed the copy that Schneider had painted, ironically becoming the most famous and well known image of Marie Laveau.
In fact, the Marie Laveau copy became so famous, it's the image used on Laveau's Wikipedia page.
This is a pretty interesting situation and fairly unprecedented case where a known "forgery" became more famous and valuable than the original painting.
Actually, who knows how valuable the original is because, no one knows if it even still exists...or who really painted it...or if the woman in the portrait is even Marie Laveau.
See how weird this whole thing is?
Read more about this brain buster on Wikipedia.