The BBC’s Antiques Roadshow recently stopped off at Stowe School, revealing a variety of hidden treasures and artefacts from the surrounding area. One of these artefacts was a 15th century engraving, owned by Bucks resident Mary Walter. Entitled ‘Virgin and Child with a Monkey’, it was created in around 1498 by Albrecht Dürer, a renowned painter and engraver born in Nuremberg, Germany in 1471. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest contributors to the Northern Renaissance, which was the result of the original Italian movement spreading across Europe in the second half of the 15th century. The landscape in the background of the engraving is Nuremberg, and is based on his 1496 watercolour ‘Fisherman’s House on a Lake’. It is considered one of his most popular works, due to the combination of a religious subject, exoticism in the form of the monkey and an almost Italianate rural landscape.

Previously, some experts had suggested that the engraving could be a worth a couple of hundred pounds at best , but Mary personally felt that it was worth more than the £2000 her father had originally paid for it in 1971. Philip Mould, an art dealer and art historian, was the  Antiques Roadshow expert who valued the engraving, estimated that (subject to further checks) it was worth around £20,000; much more than the owner Mary expected and a great deal more than previous experts had thought! Despite long queues and two hours spent nervously waiting for filming to begin, Mary affirmed that ultimately ‘it was a very exciting, interesting experience.’ The engraving is now due to be auctioned at Sotheby’s next month, following an extraordinary turn of events that mean it is no longer collecting dust in the attic. Antiques Roadshow is due to pass through Surrey in May of this year: perhaps you too could have a priceless Dürer engraving lurking in the attic?