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A rumbustious 16th century Temptation of St Anthony attributed to Mechlin’s Jan Frans Verbeeck, panel 2ft 6in x 3ft 6in (76 x 107cm), led the 502-lot sale at Horta (20% buyer’s premium) in Brussels on March 15 with €66,000 (£44,600).

This was described as a variant of a work in the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum.

The price was short of the €75,000-85,000 estimate, and two other of the day’s principal pictures also failed to meet Horta’s hopes.

Léon Minot’s 1908 Belle Epoque garden scene, Après-Midi Galante au Parc, 3ft 8in x 4ft 9in (1.12 x 1.45m), made a below-estimate €21,000 (£14,200) and Anto Carte’s 1926 Montreur de Marionnettes, 2ft 7in x 23in (79 x 58cm), took €28,000 (£18,900).

Carte has proved popular in Belgian salerooms – not least at Horta – in recent years, but this monochrome puppeteer was an austere work by the artist’s sometimes colourful standards, and managed only half the price expected.

The sale’s most satisfactory result was the €40,000 (£27,000), bid against a €25,000-30,000 estimate for Anna Boch’s Au Jardin, 2ft 4in x 2ft (71 x 61cm), a sunny view of a woman in a white bonnet picking flowers in a garden.


TOP price at Bernaerts (22% buyer’s premium) in Antwerp on March 8 was the above-estimate €23,000 (£15,500) bid for Johan Christian Dahl’s 1814 Mountainous Landscape with Figures on a Bridge, 2ft 7in x 2ft 1in (79 x 64cm).

The adjective “mountainous” was pushing it: the scene was of two peasants crossing a log bridge over a stream pointing up to a large hilltop cross flanked by three tiny figures in their Sunday best.


AT Mosan (20% buyer’s premium) sale in Liège on March 17, a 2ft 4in x 3ft 3in (71 x 99cm) marine by Witzel Opdenhof (1807-73) cleared its estimate to head proceedings at €19,000 (£12,840).

Two small objects also caught the eye. One was a c.1700 rectangular container in pink, white-veined St-Rémy marble variously described as a “tobacco pot” and a “wine cooler”.

Measuring 6 1/4 x 10 1/2in (16 x 27cm) and with original iron hinges but lacking its original lock, it more than doubled hopes with €2700 (£1825).

The other eye-catcher was a 17th century wooden spice-grinder carved with floral motifs, on a square, four-footed base, which took €3800 (£2570), eight times the estimate.