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Dutch Golden Age painting that is worth $5 million was discovered in the Blue Mountains property

Experts say 400-year-old work is likely collaboration between Dutch master Willem Claesz Heda and his son

A 400-year-old “one in a million” Dutch painting worth up to $5m has been found at a property in the New South Wales Blue Mountains.

Called Still Life, the work was recently located at the National Trust of Australia-managed Woodford Academy during a restoration project.

The 17th-century oil painting depicts a lavish table setting typical of the Dutch Golden Age and is thought to have been the work of Gerrit Willemz Heda.

Some experts, however, believe it may be a collaboration with his famous father, Dutch master Willem Claesz Heda whose works are typically valued in the millions of dollars.

The idea of breathing: on being an artist in regional Australia Read more

“To find an authentic 17th-century painting in my storeroom at the National Trust was beyond exciting, it left me breathless,” collections manager Rebecca Pinchin said on Sunday.

“This is a remarkable story of discovery, which has taken us on a journey across a number of years, piecing together and validating the work through expert advice and technology.”

Pinchin said finding the artist’s signature “felt like a one in a million chance”.

The National Trust says it’s possible Alfred Fairfax, nephew of James Fairfax, the founder of the Sydney Morning Herald, brought the painting to Woodford.

Alfred Fairfax was a successful businessman and bought the building in 1868.

At the time, art collecting was a popular past-time for the wealthy and Dutch works by “old masters” were fashionable.

The announcement of the discovery comes as Australia and the Netherlands mark 80 years of full diplomatic relations and an international law and trade-based bilateral relationship.

“Australia and the Netherlands share enduring bonds of friendship and family,” Scott Morrison said on Sunday.

He said the two countries also continued to pursue truth, justice and accountability for the downing of MH17 and stood together in support of Ukraine.

The painting Still Life will be displayed at Woodford Academy as part of the 2022 Australian Heritage festival on 14 May.

The Dutch Golden Age reflects an era of history from about 1588 to 1672 when Dutch trade, science and art, and the Dutch military were dominant in Europe.

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