(CNN) – Forensic analysis has become a useful tool for auction houses seeking art forgeries. In the case of a portrait of almost 400 years old made by the Dutch master. Rembrandt, two fingerprints found on the bottom edge of the painting can help you earn your estimated retail price of $ 8 million to $ 10.55 million at a Sotheby's auction next month.
The traces, which were thought to be impressions of the painter's thumb, were hidden beneath "layers of overpainted and dark varnish" in the 10-inch work of art, called "Study of the head and hands together of a young man like Christ in prayer, "Sotheby's wrote in a statement.
The painting shows a young Jesus with his head tilted up and his hands together. Described by the auction house as a "poignant portrait of Christ", it was hung at Rembrandt's house in Amsterdam until quite recently and reaches the market for the first time in six decades. It will be auctioned on December 5 in London.
The fingerprints were discovered during the "technical examination and restoration" of the painting before a 2011 exhibition of the piece in the Louvre in Paris.
The auction house is almost certain that the fingerprints belong to the Dutch master. George Gordon, co-chairman of Sotheby's former department of master paintings, warned that there are no other known Rembrandt prints to compare these fingerprints, but added that "the discovery of the marks in the original layer of paint along the bottom edge Make your connection with the highly credible artist. "
The painting was executed in a single session, in a practice known at that time as "ten eersten opmaken" – Dutch for "complete the whole concept at one time" – where layers are applied hastily before the base layer is Dr. Michel van De Laar, one of the scientific researchers who discovered the fingerprints, said in a statement.
He said the process is prone to staining, adding: "The discovery of fingerprints is further evidence of the speed with which the work was probably executed and provides a new perspective on the complex but rapid painting technique of Rembrandt." .
Painted around 1650, the portrait is part of a small series of sketches painted by Rembrandt of the same young man, believed to come from the neighborhood in which the painter lived.
Rembrandt was known to be prolific and is believed to have produced hundreds of paintings and engravings in his life.