Thursday, November 27, 2008

Priceless Pre-Raphaelite Painting Found in Dusty Attic

A woman in Somerset, England, recently discovered this rare portrait by John Everett Millais of his wife, Effie Millais, while she was in the process of cleaning her house.

How come stuff like this never happens to me?

Apparently, she had received the painting as a birthday gift when she was just nine years old (now that was one spoiled child!), and then forgot about it. The man who was evaluating the rest of her belongings, Duncan Chilcott, described his discovery:

"Up in the attic she wanted me to look at a table. On the other side of the room behind some old mattresses I saw the painting leaning against the wall," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

"It was covered in thick dust and I was astonished when I blew it off and saw what was beneath."

"The lady selling it said it was purchased for her by her mother as a ninth birthday present."

Mr. Chilcott's wife later added that when the woman was informed of the painting's value, she was rather nonplussed:
"she wasn't leaping up and down but she was surprised by it. I guess it is cash in the attic for her."
Perhaps her mother would have been better off getting her a bicycle for her birthday and keeping the fine art for herself.

While the owner might not be excited about the paintings' discovery, the art world is quite excited. You will recall that Effie Millais was actually married to the art critic John Ruskin before she met Millais. Because Effie's hand is hidden in this portrait, there is some speculation that it has something to do with John and Effie's relationship (or, as the Daily Mail more provocatively stated it, the "scandal of a love triangle"). The painting will be auctioned on December 9.

Read the whole story at the Daily Mail


M.Kate said...

I dont mind stumbling into such art too, and its so beautiful !

Hermes said...

And such a wondeful paining too - that face is so well done.

Anonymous said...

Wow what a treasure! Ooo I do like a bit of gos. :-) Yes that shadow over her ring finger probably is symbolic.

But wow seriously wow- what a thing for a woman to say aloud at that time about her husband!

Judy said...

I second the WOW...lovely work and great story. If it was bought it the 1970s it will have increased in value quite a bit.

It does seem rather odd that with a parent who would give a child such a gift that she would be UNAWARE of its value. Especially if her mum bought it at Jeremy Maas gallery which was one of the first to promote the PRs in the late 60s and 70s. That is not like SHE found it in an attic but rather knew what she was buying.

I wonder if there is more to this story...

acornmoon said...

What an amazing story,I hadn't heard it before.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Amazing. I had not heard about this. It's somehow good to know things like this can still happen!

Tracy said...

This is incredible...I didn't know about any of this! And what a beautiful portrait...Thanks for keeping us in the know, Margaret! :o)

Fete et Fleur said...

WOW! Mind-numbing that this painting was found rotting in an attic! I'm so glad it has been rescued.


Margaret said...

I know, it's pretty amazing that something like this could have been sitting in an attic all this time.

I agree with Judy though--I definitely wonder if there is something else going on here.

willow said...

Wouldn't it be absolutely thrilling to find a treasure like this while cleaning out an attic? Amazing, but it happens all the time!

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.