The Greek artist Sosus of Pergamon created a mosaic of four doves, which was later described by Pliny the Elder in his work Natural History.
In 1737, a Roman copy of the mosaic was discovered during the excavation of Hadrian’s Villa in Rome and was given the title The Doves of Pliny.
In the following years, numerous Roman artists, notably Giacomo Raffaelli, created micro-mosaic versions of this image, which were sold to many of the Grand Tourists who visited Italy in the 18th-19th centuries.
On account of the close similarity between the oil painting and the mosaics, it can be assumed that the creator of the 19in x 2ft 2in (48 x 65cm) canvas on offer in Karl & Faber’s November 8 auction was familiar with the popular motif.
Consigned by an Austrian collector, it is estimated at €4000-5000.