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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 November 2006, 12:14 GMT
Art world painting mystery solved
Miss Preston bought the two paintings for about 200

Two Renaissance paintings, valued at more than 1m, have been found in a pensioner's spare room hundreds of years after they were lost.

The two small works were painted by a monk, Fra Angelico, in 1439 and were originally part of a collection in St Marco church and convent in Florence.

Two panels went missing when the work was broken up in the Napoleonic wars.

The discovery, at the Oxford home of a retired academic, was made by a former Bristol University art history expert.

Going to auction

Michael Liversidge found the masterpieces hanging behind a door in the spare room of his friend's house, Jean Preston.

Miss Preston, 77, who died earlier this year, was working as a curator of historic manuscripts at a museum in California when she bought the two paintings for about 200 in the 1960s.

Fra Angelico, whose real name was Guido di Pietro, was born in Tuscany more than 600 years ago.

He became famous for his altarpieces and was beatified, the first step to sainthood, by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

The two pieces of artwork, which measure 15x5in (38x13cm), are to be sold by auctioneers Dukes of Dorchester in Dorset in March.


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