After it was consigned to Van Ham (29/25% buyer’s premium) in Cologne for the sale on June 2, Italian experts confirmed it as the work of Lionello Spada (1576-1622).
They date it to the period after 1614, when the artist had returned to his birthplace in Bologna, having spent several years working in Malta.
The catalogue price was €50,000- 80,000, but international bidders had much more in mind.
The hammer fell at €210,000 (£181,035) and the painting is returning to Italy.
Read letter day
Considerable interest also emerged for Lady Reading a Letter, a 3ft x 2ft 7in (92 x 79cm) canvas by the late 17th century Dutch master Jakob Ochtervelt, which had been expected to bring €20,000.
His speciality was genre scenes in interiors, in which he often placed his brightly lit protagonists in front of a dark background, not unlike actors on a stage.
Furious bidding greeted this work and after a prolonged exchange, it was sold for €125,000 (£107,760) to an unnamed buyer.
Napoleon as Mars
The star of the show at Van Ham’s sale of decorative art on the previous day was a (much) larger than life marble bust of Napoleon Bonaparte as Mars the Peacemaker.
The 3ft 1in (93cm) high portrait was presumably the work of a 19th century Italian craftsman, who based it on the equally monumental full-body statue by Antonio Canova from 1803-06, which now stands in Apsley House in London, the residence of the dukes of Wellington once known as ‘Number 1 London’.
It went to a Parisian buyer for €32,000 (£27,590), just shy of the upper guide.
£1 = €1.16/SFr1.27