To the great surprise of its owners, a painting depicting an angel that had been hidden in an apartment in Toulouse for years was recently sold at auction for €2.8 million. The work, attributed to the German painter Bernhard Strigel (1460-1528), was created in 1520. It was among a pile of other paintings on a bed, in one of the rooms of the house, explained Pauline Maringe, of the auction house Artpaugée.

Last summer, while  making an inventory of the paintings for an insurance company, the owners asked for the specific work to be evaluated. “When  I came upon it, it was so well preserved for a painting of five centuries. We gave it to our art critic who certified it,” said Maringe.

Is the buyer perhaps the Abu Dhabi Louvre Museum that recently bought the painting’s counterpart? “The buyer did not want to be identified, it is an institution,” Maringe replied laconically. The two paintings, each depicting an angel, are apparently the two side sections of a retable/ornamental panel behind an altar, the central part of which is missing.

Angel in a Yellow Tunic Holding a Censer was initially estimated at €600,000-800,000.

The family that had owned the painting for many generations, referred to it as “the family’s Guardian Angel”. They knew it was of some value, but they never suspected it was so great.

This painting first appeared in France in 1816, when it was separated from its counterpart. Bernhard Strigel was the portrait painter of Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519).