The award for art history's naughtiest work must go to Gustav Courbet's "The Origin Of The World," the 19th century close-up of a woman's nether regions that Facebook continues to censor.
Yet art's most illustrious lower half may have found its mate; according to Paris Match, an unnamed art collector believes he located the top half of Courbet's scandalously realistic genitalia at, you guessed it, a thrift shop.
The anonymous collector discovered the canvas in question in 2010, purchasing it for £1,200 ($1885). Yet if the work is indeed Courbet's, the art-savvy collector can expect to earn up to £35 million ($55 million) for his remarkable intuition.
After a number of scientific tests, leading Courbet expert Jean-Jacques Fernier recently confirmed the sharp collector seems to have been on target. According to Paris Match, Fernier found the two works to be a match after comparing both the canvases and the frames. The New York Times speculated that when Courbet painted "Origin," which now hangs in the Musee d’Orsay, he removed the face to protect the sitter's identity. The mysterious subject is thought by many to be Irish model Joanna Hiffernan, who also sat for James Whistler.
Yet there remains some doubt as to whether art history's most beloved NSFW painting found its long-lost mate. Frederique Thomas-Martin, the chief curator of the Courbet museum in Ornans, told Libération she was "not convinced."
What do you think readers? Did Courbet's daring painting find its other half after missing 150 years?
UPDATE: This possibly groundbreaking story has a fierce opponent in ancient art expert Hubert Duchemin, who expressed his skepticism to Le Figaro. The bewildered scholar explained: "I collapsed. This story is bullshit. The way has nothing to do with that of Courbet. A 2-year-old child would see this!"
Let us know your thoughts, and see other dramatic art finds in the slideshow below:
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