- An oil painting found in a shed covered in bird droppings in upstate New York has been discovered as a rare work of art.
- The work has been identified as a live study by the famous 17th-century painter Anthony van Dyck.
- According to Sotheby’s, the painting will cost between $2 million and $3 million.
An oil painting covered in bird droppings found in a shed in upstate New York is a rare work of art that is expected to fetch up to $3 million at Sotheby’s next week.
The painting, which shows a bearded, elderly man seated naked on a stool, has been identified as a live study by the famous 17th-century Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck, according to the auction house.
The sketch, believed to have been made between 1615 and 1618, was a study for Van Dyck’s painting Saint Jerome with an Angel.
Part-time art collector Albert B. Roberts, who recognized the painting’s importance, found it in a farm shed in Kinderhook, New York, in the late 20th century.
Roberts, who bought the piece for $600, previously described his collection as “an orphanage for lost art that had suffered from neglect.”
He showed the painting in what he described as “in its pristine condition, incidentally with bird droppings on the reverse,” reported the Times of London, citing the Daily Gazette of Schenectady, New York.
The Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands, later showed the painting alongside Saint Jerome with an Angel.
Susan Barnes, an art historian, identified the sketch as Van Dyck and noted that the painting was “surprisingly well preserved,” according to Sotheby’s.
Barnes said the painting, which is almost a meter tall, is one of only two of Van Dyck’s live studies of this magnitude to have survived, according to The Times.
“They really shouldn’t be on display,” said Christopher Apostle, head of old master paintings at Sotheby’s in New York, according to The Times. “The artist often kept them in the studio for later reference.”
Robert’s estate is selling the painting next Thursday. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Albert B. Roberts Foundation, which provides financial support to artists, other creatives, and charities.