The painting “L’Avocat du village (the Village Lawyer)” is one of Brueghel’s largest known works, measuring 112 centimeters (44 inches) high and 184 centimeters (72 inches) wide, and was unknown in the art world as the most recent generation of the family who had possessed it since the 1900s thought it was fake.
The family, who wishes to remain unknown, had asked Malo de Lussac of auctioneers Daguerre Val de Loire to estimate the value of their house but instead discovered a masterpiece.
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“I found this painting (in the house), behind a door in the television room,” de Lussac told Reuters, calling it one of the biggest surprises in his career.
“I started estimating this room and when I turned back, I saw this painting. It was a very good surprise for me.”
De Lussac said he believes the artwork was bought as an authentic one, but over several generations had completely lost its authenticity within the family.
“And that’s what’s incredible,” he said. “We are giving them back this authenticity by saying, ‘In fact your artwork is real’.”
The painting on show ahead of Tuesday’s auction. Credit: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
Brueghel the Younger, whose father Brueghel the Elder died when he was only 5, didn’t use one of his father’s compositions for this painting as he usually did but did revisit the popular theme of the village lawyer.
Art experts estimated that the artwork was painted between 1615 and 1617.