Metropolitan Museum of Art

Museum Visitor Finds Painting Missing for Decades in Neighbor's NYC Apartment

Metropolitan Museum of Art

A painting by an esteemed New Jersey artist that hadn't been seen since 1960 has been reunited with other paintings in its collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all thanks to a museum visitor with keen eyes.

The Met on Wednesday announced the discovery of a Jacob Lawrence painting that belongs to a 30-panel epic called "Struggle: From the History of the American People." The art that depicts a 1786 uprising of struggling farmers in western Massachusetts led by Revolutionary War veteran Daniel Shays was bought at a local art auction by current owners six decades ago, according to the museum.

A museum visitor who saw Lawrence's other paintings in the Met's exhibition was able to recognize that the missing paint had been in his neighbor's collection for years. The New York Times reported that it was hanging in the owners' Upper West Side apartment. The visitor then informed the owners and asked them to contact the museum.

"It is rare to make a discovery of this significance in modern art, and it is thrilling that a local visitor is responsible," Director of The Met Max Hollein said in a news release.

Five of the 30 panels painted by Lawrence for the "Struggle" series were missing, and two of them were only known by their titles, including the newly discovered "Shay's Rebellion."

"It was our fervent hope that the missing panels would somehow surface during the run of American Struggle in New York, the city where Lawrence spent most of his life and where the series was last seen publicly," museum curators said.

The painting will now be featured alongside other artworks in Lawrence's collection until Nov. 1 before the exhibition goes on tour through next fall, the museum said.

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