Catalogued as 17th century Continental School, the unsigned 19 x 13in (47 x 33cm) oil on oak panel depicts the half-length portrait of a Tudor woman, wearing French clothing and holding a lidded container.
The canvas and its 19th century Venetian giltwood frame had suffered from significant damage, with splits and damage to the board, paint losses, crazing and bubbling throughout.
The oil, which had been overlooked during a previous valuation visit, had hung in a large manor house in Bedfordshire until two years ago.
W&H Peacock auctioneer Matthew Baker said: “A valuer – not from us – took some other pictures but didn’t fancy this one. Having moved to a much smaller house and having never got around to hanging the oil, the vendor decided to get in touch with us.”
Images of the painting were shown to a picture specialist who confirmed the painting was a 17th century copy of a 16th century work in a 19th century frame. On sale day, it was knocked down at £9500 against a £2000-3000 to a picture specialist abroad.
“We have had no further information on who the woman might be,” said Baker.