Two Rembrandt paintings are headed to auction after being hidden in a private collection for nearly 200 years. The pair is expected to fetch a whopping £5 million to £8 million ($6.25-$10 million), according to auction house Christie’s, which is selling the paintings.
The works of art, portraits of the artist’s relatives Jan Willemsz. van der Pluym and Jaapgen Carels, are signed and dated 1635, according to a press release from Christie’s.
The paintings remained in the sitters’ family and moved between private collections until James Murray put them up for sale at Christie’s in 1824. They have remained in a private collection in the UK and haven’t been seen by the public since, until now.
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The current owners have not been named, but Henry Pettifer, international deputy chairman of Old Master Paintings at Christie’s, told CNN the paintings were discovered during a “routine valuation to look at the contents of a house.”
He said the owners were surprised by the findings. “I don’t think they had looked into it,” he added. “They didn’t have expectations for the paintings.”
The paintings will go on tour in New York and Amsterdam in June, then will be displayed during Christie’s Classic Week in London starting July 1 and sold July 6.
“This is one of the most exciting discoveries we have made in the Old Masters field in recent years and we are delighted to bring this pair of portraits by Rembrandt to auction this summer, almost 200 years after they were last seen in public,” Pettifer said in the release.
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“Painted with a deep sense of humanity, these are amongst the smallest and most intimate portraits that we know by Rembrandt, adding something new to our understanding of him as a portraitist of undisputed genius,” he added.
The most expensive Rembrandt ever sold went for a whopping $25.3 million at Christie’s in 2009.
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