Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Two works that received large amounts of attention almost as soon as their online catalogues went live recently are pictured above. However, in both cases it appears that the auctioneers’ descriptions were validated by the outcome of the bidding.

One was a 19¾ x 14½in (50 x 37cm) oil painting of Jesus being baptised in the river Jordan that was offered at Cadmore Auctions (20% buyer’s premium) in Waltham Cross on August 10. The catalogue suggested it was a late 16th century religious icon by an unknown artist.

Estimated at just £100-200, it drew multiple bidders and was sold online to a UK private buyer for £7500 – an amount that indicated bidders felt the prospective date was not too wide of the mark.

Meanwhile, a sale at Mander Auctions (20% buyer’s premium) in Sudbury, Suffolk, on August 15 had a huge amount of presale online interest in a full-length portrait of a Italian nobleman.

It had recently been removed from storage where it was thought to have been kept since the 1950s. The condition was far from perfect but it did appear to have some quality.

The work was catalogued as a copy of a well-known painting of the Italian diplomat and artistic patron (and later cardinal) Alessandro Farnese as a young man by Anthonis Mor (c.1516-76) and Alonso Sánchez Coello (c.1531-88).

The original is now in Meadows Museum in Dallas, while an identical and fully attributed version was sold at Christie’s New York in April 2018 for $2.59m (£1.82m) including premium.

The Mander catalogue also stated that the 3ft 6in x 2ft (1.07m x 71cm) oil on canvas had the remnants of a Victorian label on the back probably for picture framer Paul Vacani.

Estimated at £1000-2000, it was eventually knocked down at £6200 to a buyer on thesaleroom.com– a price that would not be unreasonable for a good 19th century copy of a Renaissance portrait.