Long-held doubts about the authenticity of the National Gallery’s masterpiece, bought for £2.5m in 1980, are backed by pioneering technology
The National Gallery has always given pride of place to Peter Paul Rubens’s Samson and Delilah, listing it among the “highlights” of its collection, since it purchased the picture at Christie’s in 1980 for a then record price.
It depicts the Old Testament hero in the lap of the lover who betrayed him, having beguiled him into revealing that his God-given strength lay in his uncut hair. As Samson sleeps, Delilah’s accomplice cuts his locks, rendering him powerless, with soldiers ready at the door to capture him.
Critics have long suggested that the painting is not really by Rubens. And now a series of scientific tests employing groundbreaking AI technology have concluded that the 17th-century Flemish master could never have painted it.
“The results are quite astonishing,” Dr Carina Popovici, the scientist who carried out the study, told the Observer. “The algorithm has returned a 91% probability for the artwork not being authentic.”