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A saleroom porter’s chalk mark on the back of a painting discovered in a Dorset attic could be a decisive factor when Duke’s, of Dorchester, offer the picture at auction next week. Next to a familiar Christie’s stamp are drawn the dates, June 24/82, the dates of Christie’s Hamilton Palace collection sale in 1882, together with a label inscribed ‘Madonna at Prayer, Sassoferrato Pinxit’. A copy of Christie’s catalogue shows that lot 401, alongside paintings by Botticelli, Mantegna and Giorgione now in the National Gallery, was The Madonna in Prater by the 17th-century Italian painter, Sassoferrato, which sold for £383, five shillings to a buyer described as F. Davis.

A version of the painting is hanging in the National Gallery in London (bequested in 1846) where it is described as one of four known variants by the artist. Duke’s hopes this is another, but is going cautiously. Cataloguing it as "ascribed to Sassoferrato", they have placed a modest £15,000 estimate on it.

Colin Gleadell, The Telegraph: 5th Apr 2016 10:08:00