Dezember by Gabriel von Max, guide of €20,000 at Karl und Faber.

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Over the years, his paintings financed a collection of some 60,000 anthropological and ethnographic exhibits. He was not only tantalised by inanimate objects, but expressed his fascination with the theory of evolution by keeping up to 14 monkeys in his villa south of Munich.

His pets figured prominently in many of his paintings, such as his 12 x 9in (30 x 22cm) panel from the early 1900s which is coming up for sale at Karl & Faber in Munich on May 17.

The composition of a monkey hugging a tiled stove is entitled Dezember (December). The earliest painting of this type dated from 1871 and until late in life von Max stayed true to this motif, often applying human attributes to the animals. In contrast, his other main subjects were of a religious nature, primarily women saints. The monkey paintings were, however, far more lucrative and often painted to order.

Dezember is certainly fresh to the market: it was purchased from the artist by the great-grandparents of the vendor and has been in the family ever since.

It now has a guide of €20,000.