A dust-covered painting found behind an old mattress in an attic has turned out to be the work of a famous artist estimated to be worth £50,000.
November 23, 2008 -- Somerset, England -- An unnamed 45 year old woman had been given the art work for her ninth birthday in 1972 but stored it in her loft for years and forgot about it until she put her house up for sale. An eagle-eyed auctioneer who was valuing her belongings spotted the oil painting and was stunned when he realized it was by 19th century artist John Everett Millais.
As well as being worth thousands, the dusty painting has also shed light on a 150-year-old scandal of a love triangle involving Pre-Raphaelite artist Millais. The portrait is of a woman called Effie Gray who was married to Millais's mentor and art critic John Ruskin at the time.
Millais, whose work includes the famous Ophelia painting, met and fell in love with Gray in 1853 while he used her for another painting, the Order of Release. Gray was in a loveless marriage with Ruskin and left him to marry Millais three years later. They went on to have eight children together.
The painting, which has Millais's signature on the back, shows Ellie Gray in a "passionate" and thoughtful pose while she was aged in her mid 20s.
The 14” x 11” painting was auctioned at Christie's in 1961 and bought by a Bond Street dealer who later sold it. It was eventually bought by the consignor's mother at an art gallery in 1972.
UPDATE: I contacted the auction gallery and learned that this painting was withdrawn at the last minute.
Take care of your antiques and they will take care of you.