Brueghel Painting Heads to Auction in France after Being Discovered During a Family’s Property Review

A painting by the 17th-century Flemish artist Pieter Brueghel the Younger will be auctioned next month in France after having recently been rediscovered.

The canvas, depicting a busy scene as peasants wait in line for a lawyer’s services, dates to between 1615 and 1617. It was uncovered last October by a French family that was conducting a review of its property.

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The owners were unaware that the painting was by the famed Flemish artist, despite it having been passed through the family for a century, the Art Newspaper first reported. The owner’s identity and location was not disclosed.

The work will be sold during an Old Masters auction on March 28 at the headquarters of the Parisian auction house Hôtel Drouot, where it is expected to sell for between €600,000 and €800,000 ($640,000 and $800,000). That’s still a far cry from Brueghel’s current auction record of €10 million ($10.7 million), achieved in 2011 at Christie’s.

The painting was authenticated at the Paris-based firm Cabinet Turquin, which sent the work to Germany for study. The Flemish Old Masters specialist Klaus Ertz confirmed the attribution in December.

In the catalogue notes for the lot, Ertz writes that Brueghel made other works with the same subject and suggests that the artist may have been drawing on pieces by the French painter Nicolas Baullery. Historians view the painting’s subject matter as a satirical take on the Netherlands under Spanish control. 


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