In the late-20th century, someone discovered a mysterious, beautiful painting in a farm shed in Kinderhook, New York. The oil on wood work depicted a slouched, nude man. Purchased originally for $600, the painting was later identified by scholars as an early study by Anthony van Dyck in preparation for his work St. Jerome. With this recognition, it recently sold for an impressive $3.1 million at a Sotheby's auction.
“The person who found [the painting], Albert B. Roberts, was a passionate collector of ‘lost' pieces, describing his collection as ‘an orphanage for lost art that had suffered from neglect,'” said Sotheby's. Art historian Susan J. Barnes identified it as a “surprisingly well preserved” work by Van Dyck, the Flemish Renaissance painter who lived from 1599 to 1641. The work is a rare early study between 1615 and 1618. At the time, the young artist was working alongside the incredible Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp.
Put up for auction by Robert's estate, the painting's profits gave back to the artistic community. Part of the proceeds was donated to the Albert B. Roberts Foundation Inc, which supports artists. Works by Agnolo Bronzino, Titian (who influenced Van Dyck), and Melchior de Hondecoeter also sold at the auction.
The final painting for which the Van Dyck was a study can be viewed at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam. Van Dycks' other works, including richly detailed portraits of nobles and other depictions of St. Jerome himself, can be seen in museums around the world.
A beautiful Anthony van Dyck study painting, once bought for $600, sold at auction for $3.1 million.