Four years ago, a man in Massachusetts noticed a tiny drawing of a woman and child at a routine estate sale.
The bottom of the panel bore one of art history’s most recognized monograms: “A.D.”
He purchased it on a whim of $30. Certainly, it was “a wonderfully rendered piece of old art, which justified purchasing it,” he thought.
The drawing may be worth $50 million or more, as it appears to be worth much more than that.
According to the Agnews Gallery in London, the “A.D.” behind the signature is actually the initials of the German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer which makes the painting worth millions of dollars.
The gallery is quite convinced that this is an original drawing by Dürer. Christof Metzger, a curator at the Albertina Museum in Vienna and a top expert on the painting, declared the piece authentic after analysis. In fact, Metzger has even included the painting in his upcoming catalog raisonné for the Old Master.
The drawing also appears to be authentic according to former curator Giulia Bartrum of the German Prints and Drawings department at the British Museum.
At the moment, an exhibition about the subject is on display at Agnews, curated by the former curator.
It is thought by both experts that the painting was created in 1503 as a preparatory study for Dürer’s famous watercolor.
This has not been an easy task for the consigner, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Agnews reports that he presented the artwork to several experts for authentication or sale after acquiring it in 2017, but in each chance, it was rejected.
The artwork was only seriously considered after the owner was randomly connected with Boston-based collector Clifford Schorer.
As a shareholder of Agnews, Scholer took the drawing to Agnews.
The painting was later sent to Metzger and other experts.
Hence, a paper restorer was able to confirm the age of the material and locate Dürer’s signature watermark on the Trident and Ring.
Further information was uncovered about the piece’s origin as well.
The drawing belonged to an architect outside of Boston who inherited it from his grandfather, who likely bought it in Paris in 1919. In 2012, however, the architect passed away.
Although Schorer believes the painting could fetch $50 million, no price has been set for The Virgin and Child with a Flower on a Grassy Bank.
In a statement, a representative of Agnews says that the gallery has a “standard consignment agreement” with the drawing’s owner, and is to be “compensated for the three to four years of research” involved in authenticating the drawing.