Self-portrait by Hermann Lismann, £42,000 at Bonhams.

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Modestly guided at £1000-1500, it raced away to bring £42,000.

Although little known today, Lismann is one of a number of ‘forgotten’ German Expressionist artists whose work was once widely appreciated in his homeland.

Selbstporträt, a 23 x 19in (58 x 48cm) oil on canvas laid down on board, came for sale from a UK private collection.

Signed and dated 1919, it was painted in the year when Lismann - whose formative years had been spent in Café du Dôme society in Paris - had returned from the trenches to teach art at the Kulturband Jewish art studio in Frankfurt.

At the time, his brand of post-Impressionism was much admired and exhibited, although by the 1930s it had been declared ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis and was stripped from public collections.

Lismann himself fled to France but, interned as an ‘enemy alien’ under the Vichy government, he was later sent to his death at the Majdanek camp in Poland.

Memorial exhibition

A memorial show of some 132 of Lismann’s pictures was held by the Frankfurt Kunstverein in 1959. However, it appears most of his output was destroyed and his work only rarely appears on the market today.

The £42,000 bid for this self-portrait seems to be an auction record. Hitherto, the sale of a Lismann landscape for £1900 in the current Bonhams’ sale was more typical of his 21st century commercial fortunes.