It’s happened again. Another story has surfaced about a priceless treasure turning up at a local flea market, but this time the tale is true and it happened in France. According to Artnet News, a bargain hunter in Alsace discovered a 16th century Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) copper plate engraving titled “Maria von einem Engel gekrönt”. The print, which is dated 1520 and marked with Dürer’s distinctive block initial signature, depicts Mary being crowned by an angel while holding the infant Jesus.
The collector quickly recognized the print for what it was and purchased it from the flea market vendor; however, after examining it, the new owner noticed a museum stamp of the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart on the print’s verso. Then the buyer and his wife did something people seldom do. They returned the print to the museum. Apparently, this copy of Dürer’s copper plate engraving disappeared from the Staatsgalerie sometime during the Second World War. The print eventually made its way to France and has been listed on the Kulturgutverluste (The German Lost Art Foundation) “Lost Art” database for some time, according to Artnet News. A quick check auction records reveal that copies of Dürer’s “Maria von einem Engel gekrönt” have sold at auction in both Switzerland and Germany for between $4,600 and $5,600 per print.