Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines is adding to its art collection a piece from circa 1600 that it has owned for nearly a century without knowing it. Officials have discovered “Apollo and Venus” by Dutch master Otto Van Veen.
Hoyt Sherman’s executive director Robert Warren was searching for Civil War flags in a little-used storeroom under the auditorium’s balcony when he noticed a painting wedged between a table and the plaster wall. A tag indicated the discolored piece had been donated to the Des Moines Women’s Club at Hoyt Sherman in 1923, and apparently forgotten. Warren says it’s impossible to know the value of the painting because it has never been sold.
“I’m sure it’s severely undervalued because it was listed for $1,500 when it first came into possession of the women’s club,” he says.
Warren is not sure why "Apollo and Venus" was placed there in the first place, but he has a couple of guesses.
“The assumption was it was tucked away there either because it needed some repair work or the content because it is a full backside nude of Venus de Milo and another cherub sans clothing,” he says.
The artist Otto Van Veen is best known for being a teacher of Peter Paul Rubens.