Painting Hanging Behind Door Revealed as 17th-Century Dutch Masterpiece: 'A Very Good Surprise'

The six-foot-long work of art by Pieter Brueghel the Younger was painted between 1615 and 1617, and could fetch close to $1 million when it hits the auction block in Paris on Tuesday

A cast-aside painting in the style of famed 17th century Dutch master Pieter Brueghel the Younger — which long hung hidden behind the door of a home in northern France — is the real deal.

And now the masterpiece, L'Avocat du village (or The Village Lawyer), is set to hit the auction block on Tuesday where it could be sold for close to $1 million.

The large-scale painting was discovered by Malo de Lussac after the family, who according to Reuters with to remain anonymous, hired the company he works for to appraise the value of their home.

"I found this painting [in the house], behind a door in the television room," de Lussac told the news service, adding that it was one of the biggest finds of his career.

He added, "I started estimating this room and when I turned back, I saw this painting. It was a very good surprise for me."

The six-foot-long work of art, which depicts a busy lawyer's office and was painted between 1615 and 1617, is one of the largest of the nearly 90 versions that Brueghel painted, according to Art News. By comparison, another painting by the artist of the same scene is in the collection of the Louvre — and it is only 31 inches in size.

Visitors watch the painting "Payment of the Yearly Dues", also known as "The Peasants' Lawyer" by Pieter Brueghel The Young, estimated to be dating before 1618, at the Drouot auction house in Paris, Monday, March 27, 2023. A rare Brueghel the younger painting found behind a door in French home goes under the hammer in Paris at Drouot Auction house. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
AP Photo/Michel Euler

Just around the corner in Paris on Tuesday, the French family's painting will be sold at the Hôtel Drouot, where it currently has a presale estimate of €600,000 to €800,000 ($635,000–$846,000).

For the family, who long thought their possession was a fake, the day is a happy occasion — marking the moment they found out the truth about their possession.

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De Lussac told Reuters that once the family was told that theirs was an original work of art, they asked him to take a picture of them in front of the painting "that they had lived with for all those years" since the early 1900s.

"It was both funny and touching," he said.

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