Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009 12:46 UK

Lost art masterpiece rediscovered

Mazzolino painting
The painting was last sold at an auction in London in 1812 for 20.

A lost Renaissance masterpiece by Italian artist Mazzolino has been rediscovered after being left in a packing case for nearly 60 years.

Experts from the National Gallery in London identified the painting, which depicts the Madonna and Child with St Joseph, as dating back to 1522.

The piece is set to go under the hammer on 1 October in Dorchester, almost 200 years since it was last sold.

It is expected to fetch between £40,000 and £60,000.

However, there is expected to be great excitement over the rare sale after another painting by the artist fetched almost £370,000 in July 2005 at Sotheby's in London.

'Considerable excitement'

The lost painting was last sold at public auction in London in 1812 for £20 and is believed to have passed into the collection of William Blundell Spence, who lived outside Florence.

He was visited in 1862 by his cousin, Eliza Charlotte Moss, and it is her great grandson who now owns and is selling the painting.

The man from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, who does not wish to be named, told auction house Duke's in Dorchester he had forgotten he owned the painting.

It had been put into storage in 1950 and had lain there ever since.

It was only discovered when he showed auctioneers photographs of other items he wished to sell and they stumbled across the painting.

Guy Schwinge of Duke's said: "Paintings by Mazzolino are represented in galleries around the world, with fine examples on show at the Uffizi in Florence and at Christ Church College, Oxford.

"His work rarely appears at auction and when it does it causes considerable excitement."

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