A painting that has been hanging at California's landmark Hearst Castle for decades has been identified as a 17th century work after two guides noticed a previously undetected monogram and inscription when sunlight illuminated them last fall.
The markings allowed museum director Mary Levkoff to determine the painting was created by Spanish artist Bartolome Perez de la Dehesa in 1690, The Tribune of San Luis Obispo reported this week.
"This is a major new discovery for the oeuvre of Perez," Levkoff told the newspaper.
The painting depicts the Annunciation — the angel Gabriel announcing to the Virgin Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus.
The work, which is about 8.5 feet (2.6 meters) high and 5 feet (1.5 meters) wide, hangs in the Assembly Room of the main residence at the elaborate estate built by late newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and filled with his extensive art collection.
Records showed that Hearst bought the painting in 1927, but officials of the castle, which is now part of the California state parks system, knew little else about it until last fall.