Renaissance painting discovered in pensioner's bedroom sells for £255k

 Filippino Lippi's Madonna and Child

Filippino Lippi's Madonna and Child was sold by Dawson Auctioneers after being found in a pensioner's bedroom - Credit: Dawsons

A Hampstead auction house sold a Renaissance painting for £255k after it was discovered hanging off kilter in an elderly woman's empty bungalow.

The 16th century piece, a depiction of the Madonna and Child by Renaissance painter Filippino Lippi, was found by Siobhan Tyrrell, head of valuations at Dawsons Auctioneers, during a routine valuation of the contents of the unoccupied house.

The oil on canvas painting, which measures 50cm x 43.5cm, belonged to a 90-year-old woman from Enfield, has dementia, and has been living in a care home since 2021.

Her family was in the process of selling the bungalow and its contents to help pay the fees.

They had no knowledge of the painting, its history or value and have since discovered their relative had inherited it from her father more than 30 years ago.

The painting fetched £255,000 when it went under the hammer at an online auction last month.

Dawsons said although it attracted much international interest, the painting was eventually sold to a UK bidder.  

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Auctioneer Peter Mason said:  “We had over 20 active bidders on the day but it became a two-horse race when we reached £100,000. We knew it would do well but the final hammer price exceeded our expectations.”

Siobhan Tyrrell, known for her appearances on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, said:  “There was nothing exceptional in the house until I walked into the bedroom and saw the painting hanging, off kilter, above a bed.  

"Although I’m a general valuer and not a painting specialist, I recognised it was significant straight away.”

Aubrey Dawson, managing director at Dawsons, in Heath Street, said:  “As an international auction house, we sell many items of much higher value but this was special and gave the team a real buzz.  

"Most people watch programmes like Antiques Roadshow to see rare finds being discovered and we all secretly hope to find something lurking in our own attics.

"The discovery of this painting was one of those moments and the fact the owner and her family had no idea of its value made it all the more enjoyable for everyone concerned.”

Thought to have been born in Italy in 1457, Filippino was a pupil of Botticelli.  

Alongside paintings, his work included frescoes and altarpieces and is still regarded as an important influence on High Renaissance artists.