Family Discovers Their Living Room Painting Is a Lost Masterpiece Worth Millions

Spanish Family Discovers Living Room Painting Is Lost Masterpiece

“Charles I (1600-49,” by Van Dyck, c. 1635-6. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

Some things become so ordinary that we easily miss their extraordinary nature. For some people, the decor they spend their lives around is merely sentimental or aesthetically pleasing. However, it can turn out to be extraordinary and of great interest to the world. We’ve recently seen a TV room painting turn out to be by Pieter Brueghel the Younger and even garage sale purchases turn out to be Ming Dynasty relics. The latest surprising find is a painting which hung for generations on the wall of a family's living room in Jaén, Andalucía. As it turns out, it is a 17th-century masterpiece entitled The Presentation of the Baby Jesus to Saint Barbara by Flemish Baroque artist Sir Anthony Van Dyck.

Sir Anthony Van Dyck trained in the studio of Peter Paul Rubens, and he later became court painter to the British Royal Family. His portraits of the doomed Charles I and other members of the elite ruling class were softer than the depictions of their predecessors. He became quite successful in these circles, dying in 1641, eight years before Charles I would lose his head in the English Civil War. Today, Van Dyck's name is attached to the signature point beards of many of his sitters, and his portraiture and religious work hangs in museums and private collections around the world.

It had, as it turned out, been hanging on the wall of the unnamed family in Spain for generations. No picture has been released of the work, which is religious in nature. It is possible the family acquired the work through the influx of Flemings which arrived in nearby Seville, where some of the family lived in the 17th century. The painting only measures 130 by 92 centimeters (51.18 by 36.22 inches). The family reportedly admired the artwork, but only recently realized its origins and verified its authorship. It now sits in a safety deposit box as the family strategizes its next home.

“The owner of the painting has no intention of speculating, but he does have a special interest in it staying in Seville, the city where the family now lives and with which he has a special connection,” says Luis Baena, the family's lawyer. Estimating its worth at this point will be purely speculative on the part of the public, but the family plans to ask “a fair and reasonable price.” The family is reportedly discussing possibilities with the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville, in order to keep the painting in its home city of several centuries, even if it no longer hangs on the living room wall.

A family in Andalusia long had a visual masterpiece hanging in their living room, but they did not know it was in fact a work by iconic Renaissance painter Anthony van Dyck.

Spanish Family Discovers Living Room Painting Is Lost Masterpiece

“Christ Crowned with Thorns,” by Van Dyck, c. 1620. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

Spanish Family Discovers Living Room Painting Is Lost Masterpiece

“Anton Giulio Brignole-Sale on horseback,” by Van Dyck, 1627. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

h/t: [Inside Edition]

Related Articles:

The Rijksmuseum Has Made 709,000 Artworks Available for Free Online

Van Dyck Painting Bought for $600 Sells for $3 Million at Auction

Couple Renovating Their Kitchen Discovers 400-Year-Old Paintings Hidden Underneath

Fragment Stolen by Famous Art Thief Over 40 Years Ago Is Finally Returned to Renaissance Tapestry

Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content