Discovery of a masterpiece

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Art historian Mallory Mortillaro gives a Zoom talk on the discovery of a piece by Auguste Rodin. — Courtesy Chilmark library

The Chilmark library hosts an interesting event on Wednesday, Sept. 8, at 5 pm on Zoom. While cataloging artwork housed inside of the Hartley Dodge Memorial in Madison, N.J.,, art history student Mallory Mortillaro zeroed-in on the Napoleon bust that had been sitting in a committee room for decades. A press release from the library explains the find: Mortillaro stood on a chair, peeped around to the side of the bust that was facing the wall, and spotted an “A” — the first letter, she believed, of Rodin’s signature. After a year of research, the piece was authenticated as a masterpiece by Auguste Rodin, lost to the art world since the 1930s. Mallory will share the story of how a simple art cataloging project evolved into a search for a mysterious piece’s provenance, and became one of the biggest art finds in recent history.

Mortillaro serves as the Curator of Collections for the Hartley Dodge Foundation. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Drew University. She balances her work as an art historian with teaching seventh grade English.

This free event is sponsored by the Chilmark, Vineyard Haven, West Tisbury, and Edgartown libraries. Email tthorpe@clamsnet.org to sign up and to get the Zoom invite.