A family in northern France had a painting in their living room with a television that they thought was a copy of a famous work by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. The painting has been in the family since 1900. However, if the family ever learned the truth, knowledge of their true worth seems to have faded over the years. This turns out to be a real Brueghel masterpiece, a Northern Renaissance masterpiece called The Village Lawyer.
The family, whose names have not been released, only learned the truth after they invited an appraiser to search their home for antiques. “I came into the small TV room, which was not very well lit. I started my appraisal in the living room and when I turned outside the door I saw two-thirds of the painting," Malo de Lussac of the Daguerre Val de Loire auction house told AP News. “And then I actually discovered the painting. It was a bit unexpected."
Three experts in Paris independently confirmed the authenticity of the painting. It dates from between 1615 and 1617, when Brueghel was middle-aged and living in Antwerp. Brueghel's father was also a Flemish painter, known as Brueghel the Elder. Both father and son were artists of the Northern Renaissance, the heyday of art in Northern Europe.
The newly discovered painting is one of several versions by the artist. It depicts a scene where the peasants wait for a lawyer (sometimes thought of as a tax collector) while he is surrounded by stacks of papers and money. Brueghel was known for painting such scenes of village life as sermons and wedding processions. This work is particularly large for Brueghel: 44 inches high and 72.4 inches wide.