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The oil on slate depicting Venus and Cupid which made £45,000 at Rosebery's.

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It was catalogued as Circle of Felice Rizzo (c.1540-1606) - an artist more commonly known as Felice Brusasorci - but trade opinion considered it to be an autograph work by this rarely-seen Veronese painter. Brusasorci, a member of a prominent family of artists in Verona, received a number of large-scale ecclesiastical commissions, but also produced small-scale secular works for private clients, of which this was probably the best example to appear at auction in recent times.

Surviving works on slate, a rare medium in any period, are often well preserved and this 7 3/4 x 5 3/4in (20 x 14.5cm) picture was in excellent condition with only minimal overpaint.

Another oil on slate by the artist entitled Lot And His Daughters, which had some stylistic similarities to the example at Rosebery's, sold for $15,000 (£9900) at Sotheby's New York back in May 1996. There is also another oil on slate by Brusasorci in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts entitled Dead Christ mourned by Angels.

With considerable interest shown before the auction, including enquiries from Italy, the bidding opened at £10,000.

It ended up coming down to a contest between two telephone buyers and was knocked down to a London dealer at £45,000 plus 17.5 per cent buyer's premium - a price thought to be a record for the artist at auction.

By Alex Capon