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The work of the important and influential Dutch expatriate artist William van der Hagen (?-1745), this 19in x 3ft (48 x 91cm) canvas, shown right, was signed and dated 1738. It had emerged in unrestored and unlined condition via the executors of a local private individual who had been given the painting some 50 years earlier as a wedding present. The frame was thought to have been of the period if not the original.

After moving from London to Dublin in the early 1720s, Van der Hagen ran a highly successful studio specialising in topographical views and decorative landscapes, including a number canvases of major Irish cities. Presumably a similar type of commission to the well-known View of Waterford, for which Van der Hagen was paid £20 by the city corporation in 1736, this view of Cork prominently featured the island of Hawlbowline and its castle.

The latter was the former clubhouse of the Water Club, now the Royal Cork Yacht Club, established in 1720, making it the oldest yacht club in the world. One of the club’s founder members was Lord Inchiquin, who may well prove to have been responsible for the original commission if and when a fuller provenance of the painting is established.

In the meantime, it had to find a new owner. Despite pre-sale publicity in the Irish Times and interest from as far afield as America, Canada and the Bahamas, on the day just two serious bidders made their presence felt in the saleroom. Once the starting price was dropped from €200,000 to a more sensible €50,000 the bidding settled down to a straight head-to-head between a well-dressed lady with a chauffeur-driven Mercedes waiting outside and the London dealer Alan Hobart, who’d flown over specially for this painting. It took not far short of 10 minutes for the lady bidder, who was representing a prominent Irish collector, to finally hold sway at the mighty price of €360,000 (£255,320), the highest yet paid at auction for the artist. The auctioneers had suggested the painting had would make “well into six figures”.
Exchange. rate £1 = €1.41