Art is often forgotten, or the value of the pieces are unknown, thus expensive paintings or art pieces end up being abandoned. Such is the case of the St Jerome painting done by renowned artist Anthony Van Dyck, which was at first sold for $600, then resold at an auction house for $3.1 million on Thursday, January 26, 2023.
The owner of the painting, Albert B. Roberts, took a liking to the piece and bought it for a mere $600. According to Sotheby’s listing, the art piece was in very poor condition at the time of purchase, however, the auction house responsible for the painting’s resale stated, “The person who found it, Albert B. Roberts, was a passionate collector of ‘lost’ pieces, describing his collection as ‘an orphanage for lost art that had suffered from neglect’.”
The painting was stored in a farm shed before it was auctioned off as a part of Sotheby’s Master Paintings Part I, a sale that also included works by Titan, Melchior de Hondecoeter and Agnolo Bronzino.
According to Susan J. Barnes, who published an article about the St Jerome shortly after Roberts’ purchase, the piece was a “surprisingly well preserved” painting by Robert Van Dyck. The purchased artwork was alleged to be a trial run by the Flemish Baroque artist for a painting that was done at a later date.
The study, which features an elderly man sitting on a stool completely in the nude, is one of a kind simply because it was one of the only two pieces of work by Van Dyck that was done using a live model. It was also said that Van Dyck worked on the piece with peter Paul Rubens somewhere between 1615 and 1618 when he was still a young painter in Antwerp.
Only recently recognized as a piece painted by Van Dyck, the oil painting artwork was uncovered in a shed in Kinderhook, New York, in the late 20th century.
The final format of the painting made its home in Rotterdam at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen.
After it was auctioned for over three million, the painting was presented to Sotheby’s by the Roberts’ estate (the previous owner). According to the auction house, a fraction of the profit will also be given to the Albert B. Roberts Foundation Inc, which is a charity formed with the intent to aid other charities and artists financially.