The sale included two portraits that had come from a collection formed around 120 years ago in Vienna by Professor Eduard Mahler, an astronomer, mathematician and historian in the late 19th century whose publications included several works on Jewish history. Mahler’s daughter left Vienna for Brazil in the 1930s to escape Nazism and the paintings had accompanied the family and passed down by descent.
The two works at the auction on June 18 were both oils on panel, one measuring 2ft 3in x 22in (71 x 56cm) depicting a rabbi, the other slightly smaller at 2ft 2in x 20in (66 x 51cm) featuring a man wearing a beret.
Both were catalogued as atelier (workshop) of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and modestly estimated: the rabbi at €15,000- 20,000 and the man with a beret at €12,000- 15,000.
The painting of the rabbi sold as predicted at €15,000 (£13,635) but the portrait of the man in a beret generated far more interest from bidders. It ended up selling for no less than €350,000 (£318,180).