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Leonardo da Vinci, 'Vitruvian Man' | © Luke Viator / WikiCommons
Leonardo da Vinci, 'Vitruvian Man' | © Luke Viator / WikiCommons

These Are the World's Most Amazing Art Discoveries of 2017

Picture of India Irving
Social Content Producer
Updated: 22 December 2017

Whether you personally feel that this year loved you or hated you, there are two pieces of good news to be had no matter what. One: it’s coming to an end. Two: it’s been an amazing year for art history. Here are the most incredible art historical discoveries around the world that 2017 has blessed us with.

A cause of death rebuked

For years, pop artist Andy Warhol’s death was thought to be caused by a botched surgery, but new research by medical historian and retired surgeon Dr John Ryan suggests otherwise. It seems Warhol’s death was in fact the result of a long list of prior health issues, including gangrene in his gallbladder, dehydration, malnutrition, drug addiction and a gunshot wound from 1968.

A Roman mosaic in the UK

Volunteers excavating the Boxford mosaic | <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Volunteers_excavating_the_Boxford_Roman_mosaic_2017.jpg" target="_blank" rel="noopener">© Dannicus Cotswold / WikiCommons</a>

Volunteers excavating the Boxford mosaic | © Dannicus Cotswold / WikiCommons

Just outside the South English town of Boxford, local volunteers and professional archaeologists have discovered a Roman mosaic in the final two weeks of a dig that began way back in 2011. The stunning artwork dates back to approximately AD380 and is rare both in style and location. Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman Mosaics board member, Anthony Beeson, told The New York Times that he could not recollect ‘another Roman mosaic in this country that is as creative as this one’.

Two Raphael frescoes newly identified

The allegorical figure of Justice | <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sala_di_costantino,_giustizia.jpg" target="_blank" rel="noopener">© Web Galley of Art / WikiCommons</a>

The allegorical figure of Justice | © Web Galley of Art / WikiCommons

Two paintings of women, one representing justice and the other friendship, that adorn the walls of the Vatican’s Room of Constantine were discovered to be original Raphaels. Previously, they were thought to have been done by some of his followers, but in fact, they have now been confirmed to be the work of the Renaissance master himself.

A lost sculpture found in an unlikely spot

Auguste Rodin, 'The Thinker' | <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrost88/12272415323/in/photolist-jGtkvD-dhfE5X-oSd7nk-5EFMNC-dLsZZ6-5EBuCc-91oXzg-X1tnam-EttB9t-bk5WU7-nPrD3M-9TEptD-bUjaAv-oKeSaX-aXF7qg-dt5jFf-92pxTP-rNfQ4s-WWJMXG-oRJxRm-aaxqq4-dVETsc-gowqXX-92R5Aa-5MofsU-Y1fri2-EBGjSv-p5JSsL-i4C5k1-EttYzz-cUi17G-fw6xjS-dsDNs5-9n2GqW-q2wf5k-rcSQAc-dGeupA-pZqPPQ-aqpiYP-gGTu9E-azZJvv-eeyUTz-nah5ZL-fwnqoE-EBFX9v-kcuuzV-o6Bxy6-fSZ9hk-5EBuwn-RkpaMz" target="_blank" rel="noopener">© Erik Drost / Flickr</a>

Auguste Rodin, ‘The Thinker’ | © Erik Drost / Flickr

A forgotten bust of Napoléon by the renowned French sculptor, Auguste Rodin, was rediscovered, sitting in a random town hall in Madison, New Jersey. A 22-year-old graduate student spotted the work, which has since been identified, valued at between $4-12 million and temporarily loaned to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Anyone else wish they had one of these chilling in their basement?

A Rubens rediscovered

Peter Paul Rubens, 'Portrait of George Villiers' | <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_Portrait_of_George_Villiers,_1st_Duke_of_Buckingham_GL_GM_PC_49.jpg" target="_blank" rel="noopener">© Glasgow Museums / WikiCommons</a>

Peter Paul Rubens, ‘Portrait of George Villiers’ | © Glasgow Museums / WikiCommons

In the same vein, a Peter Paul Rubens portrait missing for 400 years was discovered in Glasgow, Scotland. The painting was found in a historic home by Dr Bendor Grosvenor, host of the BBC show, Britain’s Lost Masterpieces, who was vacationing with his family when he came across it. This is surely the stuff that PR dreams are made of.

We found Leonardo’s mother

Leonardo da Vinci, 'Lady with an Ermine' | <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leonardo_da_Vinci_-_Lady_with_an_Ermine.jpg" target="_blank" rel="noopener">© Frank Zöllner / WikiCommons</a>

Leonardo da Vinci, ‘Lady with an Ermine’ | © Frank Zöllner / WikiCommons

For centuries, the identity of Leonardo da Vinci’s mother has been a mystery, with no hint other than a first name, Caterina. A new book, however, has divulged previously undiscovered financial documents that finally reveal da Vinci’s mystery mum as Caterina di Meo Lippi, an orphan.

Magritte puzzle finally completed

Rene Magritte painting | <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/allan_harris/35214936013/in/photolist-VDPKBc-WTrtYn-b4oAWB-93SF6H-5mbmYx-Wi28AL-hB9aj-cqWsub-VDPGk2-hB9aa-hB998-39ET4v-cqWsH7-Wi29qG-WPL8WL-b4orgn-9VmYff-nrtiqW-6MMU9X-bacMsK-6uxcFN-b4oxav-q2zGaZ-b4osn6-bTz4EZ-hB98R-8M5NGF-aihEew-WTrtnn-hB9a5-hB99S-hB99h-bt45aS-VBfJNN-WPKU7w-hB9aA-Wi2nU5-k7VssE-WPL3W5-hB9a1-WCj1ef-9RaxRF-CZV5i-bacMpv-9Ae3JG-Mdvg5-WrUrcd-mxadWb-5HUmVB-Au3cM7" target="_blank" rel="noopener">© alh1 / Flickr</a>

René Magritte painting | © alh1 / Flickr

In 2013, one piece of a lost Magritte painting was discovered during conservation work at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. It has taken since then to find the rest of the work, which is suspected to have been cut into four canvases and painted over by the financially unsteady artist. The final piece was discovered in Belgium this year, so The Enchanted Pose (1927) is a full pose once again.