La Belle Ferronniere – Paul Ygartua copy of this masterpiece

Dear friends,

More proof that Paul Ygartua is an amazing genius.

Last week I was reading about a famous court case that took place in the 1920s, some of you may have heard of it – Hahn v. Duveen. For the benefit of those that may not recall it, the story begins when Mrs. Hahn, of Kansas City, claimed to own a Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) painting titled La Belle Ferronniere. It was a major news story in 1920 because, at the time, there were thought to be no Leonardo da Vinci oil paintings in the U.S.A. in private or public collections – which is still true today. When a reporter asked the greatest art dealer of the time, Sir Joseph Duveen, about it, he pronounced the Hahn version a fake and said that the real painting was in the collection of the Louvre. Hahn took him to court.

The case dragged on for almost a decade, some of the most prominent art experts of the time including Bernard Berenson, Roger Fry and Charles John Holmes were called to testify for the defense. The Hahn painting was taken to the Louvre for the experts to compare the two paintings side by side. All the defense experts pronounced the Hahn version a copy and a poor one at that. Only one plaintiff expert was called to say it was an original da Vinci. The trial surprisingly ended in a hung jury. In 1930, to prevent another trial, Duveen settled by paying the Hahn’s $60,000.00 in damages. In 2010, the Hahn family sold their painting at auction for $1.5 million.

Paul Ygartua and I were discussing the case and the merits of the Hahn painting; Paul said he could do a better copy than the Hahn version. He did it on Sunday and delivered it yesterday.

Lest you wonder why an artist like Paul would copy another artist’s work; first, it is not his regular occupation, I’m only aware of him doing it one other time and it was also to prove an academic point; and, second other accomplished artists  have done the same. For example, the 1958 Waterhouse catalogue of Thomas Gainsborough’s known works lists 20 copies he made of old master paintings – Rubens, Rembrandt, Murillo, Titian, Velasquez….

Attached below are some photos showing (1) the comparisons *, (2) Paul at work (as you can see no projectors or grids), and (3) the finished painting on my wall. There are also links to the Louvre and Sotheby’s if you want to see the online original photos of the da Vinci and the Hahn. I think you will agree Ygartua is a genius.


Michael Silverbrooke




* Please remember: One painting is 500 years old, one is 250 years old, and one is 2 days old. Hundreds of years of dirt, fading and craquelure were not added by da Vanci or whoever painted the Hahn; but, they are there and they soften the appearance of both works. Paul was not trying to create a fake. 

HAHN (Sotheby’s photo)  | DA VINCI (Louvre photo) 

YGARTUA, LA BELLE AND MIKE – The photo on the floor is of the da Vinci. (July 9, 2018)





  • Dianne Erisman
    Posted at 09:46h, 27 September Reply

    Paul you truly are a genius.

    We watched you painting one of your First Nation paintings in Stanley Park, Vancouver in 1986. All you used was a large paint brush, the sort a house painter would use. We paid the princely sum of $100 for it. That painting has hung in our home since then. Not only is the painting precious to us, but every time I look at it I am reminded of your painting it.

    My husband later purchased another piece of your work, a painting of Chief Dan George, for a similar price I believe. That hangs in our hallway, ready to greet any visitor who might come to our door.

    Again I thank for your work.

    Dianne Erisman

  • dorian bishop
    Posted at 10:22h, 27 September Reply

    I have two of Paul’s paintings, love them and wish I could have more. He is a fantastic artist.

  • Terry Schwarz
    Posted at 21:14h, 27 September Reply

    Awesome…way to go Paul .👍🏻

  • Pip roberts
    Posted at 11:03h, 02 October Reply

    Well done Paul.

  • Pamela Harvey
    Posted at 19:32h, 03 October Reply

    Amazing, thanks for sharing this

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