Stephan Welz auction
‘Portrait of a gentleman’ is being offered at South African saleroom Stephan Welz in a timed auction with an estimate of 5-8m Rand.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

A portrait of an old man attributed to Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) has emerged at South African saleroom Stephan Welz & Co.

The painting was purchased in Amsterdam in 1925 by a German-Jewish doctor and, after being attributed to the Flemish master by the art historian Henk Peter Bremmer, it was subsequently taken to South Africa after the doctor fled Nazi Germany.

Other works in his collection included a work by Pieter Bruegel the Younger, Degas pastel and some Rembrandt prints.

The 21.25 x 15.5in (54 x 39cm) oil on oak panel is now being sold by his descendants in a timed auction that closes on June 29.

The estimate is Rand 5-8m (approximately £280,000-450,000) and it will be put on view in Johannesburg from June 19-21.

Stephan Welz auction

A detail of ‘Portrait of a gentleman’ being offered at Stephan Welz.

The catalogue for the work details the provenance of the work going back to 1740s. In the 19th century there were suggestions that the picture was by Frans Porbus the Younger (1569-1622) but Bremmer’s later assessment was supported by German art scholars Ludwig Burchard and Wilhelm von Bode.

In terms of its condition, the auctioneers said that they believed it had survived well despite some scratches and a crack in the panel causing a visible line down the centre of the painting.

When asked why it was being offered in a timed sale rather than a traditional live auction, picture specialist at Stephan Welz, Luke Crossley said the firm “wanted to give the lot the exposure and time to encourage bidding” and noted that they were hoping to receive institutional interest.