The 13½ x 9½in (34 x 24cm) oil on copper was catalogued as ‘Italian School (19th century)’ but was eventually knocked down at €120,000 (£102,830), plus 20% buyer’s premium. The winning bidder in the room, taking instructions via his mobile phone, saw off the Italian underbidder as well as phones from Ireland and the UK.
While consensus formed over a 17th century date, there was more speculation as to the artist. A hand associated with Guido Reni was suggested but at least some deemed the picture to have more Spanish rather than Italian elements.
James O’Halloran of Adam’s said the Renaissance-style frame and painting may well have been put together in the 18th century, with the frame’s arched top not quite fitting the copper panel.
“We’ve not had many sleepers here but when you do you have a sense a joy tinged with embarrassment,” said O’Halloran. “However, had we put a higher estimate it may not have made so much, and a number of Old Master specialists told us they felt it a strong price.”
£1 = €1.17