The oil painting, titled The Depiction of the Madonna and Child and dating to the 15th century, shows Mary with baby Jesus on her lap at the center, with two attendant angels, set in a landscape, and framed in gilded wood.
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Lippi was the illegitimate son the priest and painter Fra Filippo Lippi, who was renowned for his paintings of the Madonna. The elder Lippi also mentored legendary Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli, who subsequently taught Filippino Lippi.
The Depiction of the Madonna and Child belonged to a a woman in her 90s with dementia who moved into a nursing home last year. Soon after, Dawsons began evaluating the contents of the bungalow in order to sell its contents in order to cover her medical expenses. Unaware of the painting’s possible significance, the Italian-born woman inherited the painting from her father at the time of his death some 30 years ago.
“The last room that I went to was her bedroom and I was amazed to see this beautiful 16th-century religious painting,” recounted Siobhan Tyrrell, the auction house’s head of valuations and a specialist on Antiques Roadshow, in a video.
Attracting no less than 20 bidders, the painting’s high price suggests that some believe the work might even be by the artist himself. The record for Lippi paintings sits at $2.3 million from a 2005 sale at Christie’s New York, with only five other works having achieved a higher value.
The proceeds from the £255,000 sale will go toward the elderly woman’s care. According to Tyrell, “It’s an absolute godsend and will really change her life.”