Long-lost 500-year-old engraving bought at flea market in France

11th August 2016

A 500-year old engraving by German Renaissance master Albrecht Durer that many experts feared had been lost forever, has been found on sale at a flea market in France, with a price tag of just a few euros.

The copperplate engraving, named Mary Crowned by an Angel, can be dated back to 1520, with expert Anette Frankenberger telling AFP that it is "in very good condition", considering its age.

According to the Daily Telegraph, it was found and promptly purchased by a retired French archaeologist and art collector at a fraction of its estimated value.

It appeared to have been well preserved after being wrapped in paper, upon finding it at the flea market stall, which was in the small north-eastern city of Sarrebourg near Strasbourg and the German border.

However, when he recognised the the stamp of a German museum on the back of the engraving, he reportedly decided to return it as an anonymous donation.

The establishment in question was the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, which had reported the work missing since the Second World War.

The collector, who reportedly chose to remain anonymous, returned the piece “personally with his wife”.

Ms Frankenberger continued by stating that the stall-holder had obtained the piece from a local house clearance and had previously belonged to the former deputy mayor of the city.

There is little information on where the piece has been since it went missing over 70 years ago, although Durer carries something of an impressive reputation in the art world.

Born in 1471 in Nuremberg, Durer is widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the Northern Renaissance, along with leading Italian artists of the time, including Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael.

He is mainly known for woodcuts, engravings and paintings, although he also wrote books on geometry, art, architecture and engineering.

His expertise in printing saw his reputation and influence grow further.

It is not clear when the work will go back on public display at the Stuttgart museum, although given its reputation, a return to display is certainly likely.

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