(London) Two portraits painted by Rembrandt, hidden from view in a private collection for 200 years, sold at auction on Thursday in London for more than 13 million euros (19 million dollars).

Christie’s was hoping for between £5 million and £8 million ($8.5 million to $13.6 million) for these two oval portraits, 20cm high by 16.5cm wide, which eventually changed hands for 11,235 million pounds.

These oil paintings by the 17th-century Dutch master had remained in the same family until an expert at the prestigious auction house spotted them during a routine appraisal.

“I first encountered these paintings a few years ago during a routine appraisal and was stopped dead in my tracks,” said Henry Pettifer, Old Master Paintings Manager at Christie’s.

“I was truly amazed to find that the images had never really been researched and discussed in Rembrandt literature for 200 years,” he told AFP. , while the portraits were recently exhibited in Amsterdam.

The portraits, believed to date from 1635, show an elderly plumber called Jan Willemsz van der Pluym and his wife Jaapgen Carels.

The couple, painted in an intimate style unusual for the artist, were among Rembrandt’s family friends and hailed from his hometown of Leiden.

An ancestor of the current owners had bought the paintings, already at auction at Christie’s, in 1824, where they were listed as Rembrandt. Since then, they had remained in the same private collection.

“They have stood quietly, loved by the owner’s family for two centuries,” Mr. Pettifer said. »

After they were spotted, work began to verify that they were authentic Rembrandts.

“The images were unknown, initially had to be treated with great caution,” the official stressed.

Christie’s has called on art experts, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which has one of the largest Rembrandt collections in the world.

The museum’s scientific team examined the works for almost two years before concluding that they were indeed by the artist.