Home U.K Forgotten 300-year-old drawing found in attic could be worth more than £250,000

Forgotten 300-year-old drawing found in attic could be worth more than £250,000


The 17th-century artwork, created by decorative artist Tiepolo, was discovered at Weston Hall, which is near Towcester, Northamptonshire. The family home was cleared out for the first time in more than 300 years last month and the piece has been given a conservative value of £150,000 to £250,000.

Henrietta Sitwell, one of the current generations of the Sitwells whom live in the country house, said: “The drawing was purchased by my great uncle Osbert Sitwell in the great Henry Oppenheimer sale at Christie’s in 1936.

“No one seemed to know where it was, or even give it a second thought until one day last year when we were sorting through the many attics of Weston.

“We found it wrapped in bubble wrap, leaning against the wall.

“As I peeled back the wrapping, I instantly recognised it as something special (having studied history of art at university).

“This Tiepolo drawing is one of many exciting discoveries made in the attics of Weston Hall and it was thrilling to think that such a captivating and important work of art by such a revered Old Master was just lying there gathering dust over the years.”

The work features Punchinello, the hook-nosed, humpbacked clowns who were one of the stock characters taken from the Commedia dell’ Arte, Northants Live reports.

Together with Giambattista Pittoni, Canaletto, Giovan Battista Piazzetta, Giuseppe Maria Crespi, and Francesco Guardi, Tiepolo is considered one of the traditional Old Masters of the period.

Punchinello fascinated Tiepolo and he returned to the subject throughout his long career.

He would depict them as gluttonous, preparing food, overeating, drinking, passing out from inebriation and suffering the digestive consequences of excessive consumption.

They were inspired by the Venerdì Gnocolar, a tradition in Verona on the last Friday of Carnival, where gnocchi, wine and polenta is given out to the crowds in the main square by “Papà del Gnoco”.

Joe Robinson, Head of House Sales and Private Collections at auctioneers Drewatts, said: “The re-discovery of the work by Tiepolo has probably been the most important find of the auction.

“We are delighted to be offering it for sale for the first time in over 80 years.

“Walking through the attics was like uncovering an Egyptian tomb, with wonderful things emerging from layers of dust.

“It is so rare for a collection with such history and breadth to come to the market and I feel privileged to be involved in the unveiling of a true piece of forgotten history.”

It has been given a conservative estimate of £150,000-£250,000 but due to the popularity of Tiepolo’s Punchinello works and the global interest in Tiepolo as an artist.

However, auctioneers say it is expected to “far exceed this” amount.

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