German police have asked the public for information after the discovery of two 17th century paintings in a dumpster at a motorway rest area.
Police said a 64-year-old man found the oil paintings at the rest area near Ohrenbach in central Germany last month. He then handed them over to the police in the western city of Cologne.
An initial assessment by an art expert concluded that the two framed paintings were originals, police said.
One is a self-portrait by Pietro Bellotti (1625-1700) showing the smiling Italian artist and dating from 1665. The other is a portrait of a boy by the Dutch artist Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627-1678), date unknown.
Hoogstraten was a student of Rembrandt in Amsterdam and best known for his experiments with perspective, according to the National Gallery in London.
He was born in Dordrecht but also worked in The Hague, Vienna, Rome and London. His treatise, Introduction to the High School of the Art of Painting, published after his death, is considered a valuable insight into Rembrandt’s views on painting.
Less is known about Bellotti, but according to the Galleria Canesso in Switzerland, he worked for prominent families in Venice, as well as for Ferdinand Maria, the elector of Bavaria, and for the governor of Milan.