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It seems that the family (who own other important paintings by 17th- and 18th-century Spanish artists) had no idea of their real value or identity and that they had been valued not so long ago at €1500.

They have been with this family since the late 19th century, are relined and in 19th-century frames.

The two canvases both measure 2ft 1in x 20in (63.5 x 51.5cm) and are in excellent condition. Neither is signed, but both have small traces of under-drawing although no apparent pentimenti. One curious factor is the difference in scale between the figures in the two compositions: this may be explained by the fact that they originally formed part of a tripytch with The Holy Family in the centre, or they may simply be two independent works. Mr de Willermin has dated them to around 1787 on stylistic grounds and on the basis of their similarity to other works of that year.

The paintings have been seen by leading Spanish experts, including Prado curators, and opinion seems to be extremely favourable. They will be offered for sale in Acalá’s May 8 sale with an estimate of €3.5m-5m for the two works. It seems highly likely that they will be purchased by the Spanish State on behalf of the Prado which currently lacks small religious works of this sort by the artist.