Painting stolen from Longleat House found in carrier bag could fetch £25 million at auction

Rest On The Flight Into Egypt by Venetian painter Titian Credit: PA Images

A painting of Mary cradling Jesus which was reunited with its owner Lord Bath after being stolen, has been put up for auction and could fetch up to £25 million.

The 16th century artwork, Rest On The Flight Into Egypt by Venetian painter Titian, was offered by Lord Bath and the Longleat Trustees and has now been put up for auction in London.

In 1995, it was stolen from the first-floor drawing room of Longleat House, before being found seven years later- after a £100,000 reward was offered for information.

Former Scotland Yard detective chief inspector Charles Hill discovered the painting in a plastic carrier bag, without the frame, in London in 2002.

Rest On The Flight Into Egypt was estimated to be worth between £6 million to £7 million two decades ago.

The painting, offered by Lord Bath and the Longleat Trustees, will be auctioned later this year with an estimate of between £15 million and £25 million.

The picture, also shows Joseph looking at the mother and son. It's 2ft wide and painted on a wooden panel.

It's had many owners over the years, including Austrian emperor Joseph II, before being hung at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna.

French troops looted the painting in 1809 for the Napoleon Museum, which was assembled by the Bonaparte family.

London auction house Christie’s, which has put the painting up for auction, said the painting was then owned by Scottish landowner Hugh Andrew Johnstone Munro before being bought in 1878 by the 4th Marquess of Bath at a Christie’s auction.

Andrew Fletcher, Christie’s global head of the Old Masters department, said: “This is the most important work by Titian to come to the auction market in more than a generation and one of the very few masterpieces by the artist remaining in private hands.

“It is a picture that embodies the revolution in painting made by Titian at the start of the 16th century and is a truly outstanding example of the artist’s pioneering approach to both the use of colour and the representation of the human form in the natural world, the artistic vocabulary that secured his status as the first Venetian painter to achieve fame throughout Europe in his lifetime, and his position as one of the greatest painters in the history of Western art.”

Rest On The Flight Into Egypt is being sold at Christie’s on 2 July.