ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

Stuart Little is no stranger to adventures on the big screen, but his latest adventure has seen him solving a major art mystery - and he wasn't even aware of it.

Róbert Berény's early 20th century expressionist painting, Sleeping Lady with a Black Vase, went missing in the 1920s and hadn't been seen since. That was, until Hungarian art historian, Gergely Barki sat down to watch Stuart Little with his daughter on Christmas Day 2008.

Barki was shocked to discover that there, hanging on the wall between Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis, was the long lost painting in all its original glory. It seems the Sleeping Lady has been on a bit of an adventure since going missing, and somehow ended up being bought for $500 as set dressing for the 1999 family flick.

Barki, a researcher a the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest, is currently writing a biography of the artist and recognized the painting from a small black and white photo of it originally taken in 1928. It was purchased from that exhibition by an unknown buyer and was subsequently lost in the chaos of war.

Sleeping Lady with Black Vase
Sleeping Lady with Black Vase

After spotting the painting, Barki embarked on a tireless endeavor to hunt down the Hungarian avant-garde's missing work. Slowly, he discovered it was still being held by the assistant set designer for Stuart Little, who had no idea what was hanging on her wall. Later it was sold to a private owner, and now that owner has been persuaded to sell the painting back to Hungary.

Of course, now that the piece has a big name attached to it, it has skyrocketed in value. It is believed the starting price will be $138,000 with an estimated sales price of somewhere in the range of $240,000 to $325,000.

To Arms! To Arms!
To Arms! To Arms!

Róbert Berény originally rose to fame as one of The Eight - a group of artists who introduced post-impressionism to Hungary in 1909. Their style would later go on to inspire much of early 20th century Hungarian art, literature and music. Indeed, Berény also used his influence to create well-known propaganda posters during the Hungarian revolution of 1919, including To Arms! To Arms! (shown above).

But Berény didn't stop with painting, and he could be considered a classic renaissance man. As well as a visual artist, he was also a writer, violinist, pianist, composer and inventor. Indeed, it is claimed he even invented an early version of the 3D glasses.


What do you think of Sleeping Lady with a Black Vase?

Source: ABCNews, TheHistoryBlog


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