The Lake District home of Lord and Lady Rochdale was recently put on the market with a £6.5m asking price, but the contents provided L&T with 199 lots for a special sale held on October 22.
Christ in the House of Simon made the highest price of the collection by some distance, outstripping its £8000-12,000 estimate. The 2ft 1in x 18½in (64 x 47cm) oil on cradled panel had previously hung in the estate's neo-gothic Stone Room alongside some 16th and 17th century Flemish tapestries.
The condition was generally good, although it did suffer from one significant split.
It was catalogued as a 16th century 'reimagining' of Dutch painter Dieric Bouts' (1415-75) scene from c.1460 depicting Christ dining in the house of Simon the Pharisee. The auctioneers felt that this was a probably a direct copy by either a later Dutch or Northern European hand but with several notable variations.
While it had many similarities to the original (in particular the central figures and the woman pouring perfume on Christ's feet), the differences included the presence of the ornate tapestry in the background and the replacement of a kneeling Dominican monk on the right with a rather more cheerful wine bearer here (wearing red shoes to boot).
On the day, the bidding seriously took off, with three interested parties prepared to go over £180,000, something which indicated a belief that this was not just an early but also high-quality version of the subject. After competition between an overseas bidder, a London dealer and the UK buyer who eventually placed the winning bid, it was finally knocked down at £240,000 plus 25/20% buyer's premium.
Overall, the contents of Lingholm House achieved a total of £817,670 (including buyer's premium). Further highlights from this sale will appear in a future issue.