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There had been huge expectation surrounding the discovery by Alcalá’s expert Richard de Willermin of the two small oils on canvas in a private Madrid collection. Depicting the Holy Family and Tobias and the Angel, it was the latter which attracted considerable interest, including from abroad. However, a few days before the sale, the State announced that export licences would not be granted, inevitably affecting the paintings’ performance on the night. Both sold slightly over estimate for €1.75m (£1.3m) each, but were both immediately pre-empted and will go to the Prado. “The Tobias was worth €3m-5m on the open market,” commented one dealer. “It’s time someone took the State to court. It’s been done in France.”

Other lots which will go to Spanish museums include an English, Queen Anne black and gold lacquer secretaire-cabinet of c.1710-1720 which sold for €130,000, (£96,300) and two remarkable examples of Chinese export porcelain in the form of a boar’s head tureen and platter and a cockerel tureen and platter, both Qianlong, c.1760-70. These made €130,000 (£96,300) and €160,000 (£118,520) respectively. Both were in near perfect condition.

Exchange rate: £1 = €1.35