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Evidence of the longstanding demand at TEFAF for Dutch pictures came on the stand of Old Master dealer Derek Johns who reported brisk trade during the first day. Sharing a stand with Matteo Salamon, the London dealer said attendance was "remarkable" and had resulted in sales of four paintings, two of which were early Netherlandish pictures.

The buyers were from Germany, the US, UK and Italy and one of the works sold for €500,000. Among the sales was a diptych by the Master of Lille c.1540 depicting St Jérome on one panel and Christ supported by God the Father on the other.

Paris dealer Galerie Meyer Oceanic Art

The stand of Paris dealer Galerie Meyer Oceanic Art which presented a Maori artefact to the Leiden Museum at TEFAF.

While London dealer Colnaghi announced yesterday that it had sold a previously unknown work by Bartolomeo Cavarozzi (1587-1625) to private European foundation for €5m, other sales included an Edwardian diamond encrusted tiara, with provenance to the Spencer family, sold by Hancocks with an asking price of £185,000.

Book dealer Shapero Rare Books announced the sale of its illustrated folio Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam) by Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) which was sold to a European collector.  Priced at £125,000, the lavishly illustrated and hand-coloured copy of the 1726 edition was a highlight of the stand.

Merian, the Frankfurt-born botanist, zoologist and painter who was the first to record the full life cycle of many species of butterflies and moths, is now being recognised as a pioneering woman of science. At the age of 52, she set out for the Dutch colony now known as Surinam in South America, spending two years studying and drawing the indigenous flora and fauna until forced to return after contracting malaria.

Contemporary piece vetted off

Meanwhile, the fair began in more controversial style for Milan exhibitor Piva & Co. During the vetting procedure it was decided the monumental Persepoli by the contemporary artist Luca Pignatelli was unsuitable for display.

The 2016 mixed-media work, painting a classical head over an original Persian rug, was deemed “too provocative, since it destroys an antique oeuvre through the use of contemporary art”.

The fair continues until March 19.