British historian's mistake led to sale of valuable tapestry

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One of the greatest tapestries made in Elizabethan England has been rediscovered in America after it disappeared almost a century ago following a blunder by a prominent British art historian.

The giant hanging, measuring 15 ft by 6ft and made in the 1580s, with an idealised image of country life shows that wealthy Tudors had much the same aspirations to own a beautiful part of the countryside as their counterparts today.

... The London dealer Simon Franses has identified it as coming from the workshop of William Sheldon, a contemporary and close neighbour of William Shakespeare and regarded as one of the greatest tapestry makers in 16th century England....

Mr Franses says that the tapestry matches other Sheldon pieces stylistically and that he is certain of its origin. But nothing though is known of its history until 1909 when the dealer and art historian Lord Duveen, who made a fortune by exporting art from Britain to rich Americans, put it into an auction in the United States.

Research by Mr Franses has found that it was not catalogued as a work by Sheldon and that the normally shrewd Lord Duveen had missed a trick.

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