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“He just seemed to want the names and bought the cheapest things he could find. And if you buy cheap, the stuff remains cheap,” was one of the more damning trade assessments of the April 9 sale of Dr Dreesmann’s Impressionist and Modern material.

However, Christie’s global system of reasonable reserves brought out plenty of buyers scenting a bargain, which resulted in all but 11 of the 166 lots finding buyers for prices that were sometimes rather less than a bargain. The final total of £4.67m was towards the lower end of Christie’s £4-£5.6m pre-sale estimate.

The vast majority of these Impressionist and Modern lots were famous-name works of unexceptional ‘Part II’ quality, but, as ever with Dreesmann, there were exceptions. Very much the stuff of a ‘Part I’ Impressionist and Modern sale was this Georges Seurat (1859-1891) oil sketch, right, Le tas de pierre, one of a much admired group of small-scale plein air oil sketches painted around the time of his 1884 masterpiece, Bathers at Asnières. Painted on canvas measuring 13 by 161/4in (33 x 41cm), this particular sketch, distantly inspired by Courbet’s celebrated Les Casseurs de Pierres, had been bought by Dr Dreesmann for $940,000 (£569,350) at an evening Impressionist and Modern sale at Christie’s New York in November 1996. Five and a half years later, the painting had a sufficient edge of quality to show a reasonable profit, selling here to the Nahmad brothers – London trade bargain hunters par excellence – slightly above the mid-estimate for £780,000, the highest price in the sale.

This was distantly followed by the catalogue cover-featured Kees van Dongen (1877-1968) canvas of 1906, Au Bois de Boulogne, at £320,000 against an estimate of £400,000-500,000.