By Webteam - 1st April 2015 6:08am
In the loft of a house on Woore Road, a wooden box was found which clearly had not been opened in many years. Inside, were what immediately appeared to be four framed Picasso paintings, one of which experts say has not been seen since it was sold in 1912 in Paris.
The other three were thought to have been lost or destroyed in the chaos of war in 1940 in northern France.
While final authentication is still awaited, preliminary findings by London experts are positive. It appears the works were originally sold by Picasso's dealer Daniel Henry Kahnweiler to private clients — prices were modest and many could afford extensive collections at the time.
Years later, when war broke out in 1939 and Hitler's armies swept across France in 1940, collectors fearing looting secreted their collections in remote country houses. Many were forgotten with their owners not surviving the Occupation that followed.
While the Audlem residents in possession of the four paintings wish to remain anonymous for the present, they have confirmed that one of their grandfathers was involved in the Normandy landings in 1944 and, they recall, always had an eye out for a bargain.
Whether he 'liberated' the paintings himself as the Allies drove the Nazis out of France, or he simply bought the works off a local, is not known. But it is almost certain that 1945 was about the time the boxed paintings arrived in Audlem and tests on the box have confirmed that approximate date.
"Grandfather died in the late 40s," AudlemOnline has been told by his family. "To be quite frank,
Experts believe the most valuable of the four works is a version of 'Houses on the Hill', created in the summer of 1909 in Horta de Ebro in northern Spain and one of a series of landscapes painted by Picasso that year.
It is the first of the paintings shown above to the right, although we cannot show the version to be displayed at the Exhibition as that, hardly surprisingly, and the other works, are being carefully protected from public view until the opening of the Audlem Festival.
As with each of the illustrations, you can click on them to enlarge.
Picasso was hugely prolific after his arrival in Paris, sometimes creating three new works in a day, and the work to be displayed in Audlem is similar to a work in Basel's Kunstmuseum, seen here in the third painting.
The Audlem art exhibition will be open over the weekend of the Audlem Festival on May 23rd, 24th and Bank Holiday 25th May. With a wide range of local art too, it will be very well worth visiting.
Monday 6th Apr
Scout and Guide Hall
Audlem Methodist Church