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This year, it was rediscovered in the collection of the family of the Comte de Sellon d’Allaman, French Protestants who emigrated to Switzerland in the 16th century to escape religious persecution.

This long-lost discovery
(authenticated by Dennis Mahon)
was always going to be the star of Galerie Koller’s (12% buyer’s
premium) October 5 sale in Zurich, where it carried an exhaustive
bilingual catalogue entry and an
estimate of SFr1.5-3m.

The re-lined 2ft 71/2in by 2ft 1in (80 x 63cm) canvas was in reasonably good condition, though it had been cleaned by the auctioneers to remove some restoration undertaken for the owners some 30-40 years ago.

In the current uncertain climate, an early – and to some observers, rather stiffly composed – religious painting by Poussin, rediscovered or not, is not a picture on which the trade were prepared to make a
major speculation. A Swiss lawyer, apparently bidding for a private
collector, took it at SFr2.4m (£1m), underbid on the telephone by a French dealer representing another private collector.