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Semenzato (19% buyer’s premium, including VAT) kicked off with their annual mixed sale at Herculaneum, near Naples, held on March 15-17 to attract Southern Italian vendors and buyers. The most interesting lot in the sale was a volume of coloured engravings of Raphael’s Loggie in the Vatican, produced between 1760 and 1772 with a team of engravers working from drawings by Gaetano Savorelli. The engravings provide a detailed study of Raphael’s decorations and are themselves indicative of the late 18th-century fashion for all things neoclassical. The 40-odd bound plates went under the hammer for €80,000 (£48,480).

A large, late-19th century display cabinet from Sorrento, with inlays of various woods, featuring an arched and glazed central part and two lower, rectangular lateral units above a base with a rounded front, sold for €40,000 (£24,240).

A pair of early 19th century mahogany consoles with marble tops resting on front legs in the form of stylised, sitting greyhounds fetched €24,000 (£14,550).

Finarte (18-16% per cent buyer’s premium, including VAT) held their first sale of 2002, slightly further north, in Rome, on March 19. Described as the contents of an Emilian house, it offered a mix of paintings, furniture and works of art. Here, the highest sums offered were those for Old Master paintings, among which a Portrait of a Lady in Pink, by Ubaldo Gandolfi, a late 18th century Bolognese artist, depicting a spirited lady removing a Venetian mask and staring with an ambivalent expression at the viewer. Bidding was strong on this lot, with the price settling at €91,000 (£55,150). Two early-17th century bird’s-eye views of Naples, one of the city from the east, the other of Vesuvius erupting, were highly sought-after. Painted by Didier Barra, a French-born artist, they were bid to €120,000 (£72,730), despite their small size.

Of the furniture, the finest lot was an early 18th century Roman bureau with rosewood veneer and inlaid work of floral motifs, which fetched €41,000 (£24,850). A tall walnut bureau from mid-18th century Sicily with clean lines and fine inlay of various woods, sold for €36,000 (£21,820). Seven boullework panels in tortoiseshell inlaid with metal and mother-of-pearl caused pulses to race in the room. The early 18th century German panels in varying sizes featured classical and allegorical scenes, floral and vegetable motifs, garlands and festoons. These were bid up to €63,000 (£38,180).

Finarte held a similar sale in Milan in the following week on March 26, with items aimed at the North Italian clientele. A pair of late 18th century Piedmontese stucco vases, decorated with polychrome ‘chinoiserie’ motifs on an ivory ground, went for €60,000 (£36,360).

A lacquered wood writing desk from the first half of the 18th century, made by Pierre Latz of Paris, sold for €92,000 (£55,760). The black ground was decorated with chinoiseries in red, gold and green, and the slender legs boasted a little gilt-bronze chase work. Of the paintings, it is worth noting a still life with fish and copper pots and pans by a 17th century Neapolitan hand; the rather dark oil on canvas sold for €68,000 (£41,200).

Finarte’s middling sale of Old Masters in Milan on the following day met with little interest, with only 23 per cent of the 142 lots finding buyers and the highest price being the €65,000 (£39,390) paid for an early 17th century Santa Rosalia by Sienese-born Rutilio Manetti. The Dream of Aeneas by Domenico Mondo, a Neapolitan artist of the late 18th century, went for €40,000 (£24,240) and a small Deposition by Palma il Giovane, measuring 13in x 18in (34 x 48 cm) sold for €35,000 (£21,210). This fine painting was executed in oil on copper, giving the thinly laid colours a rich glow.