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The panels each measured 14 x 21in (36 x 53cm) and featured views of Rome: the Palazzo Barberini, Palazzo Muti, Sant’ Ignazio, and the Piazza Montecarello, with a mother-of-pearl flower pattern on the back. They had an estimate of just €12,000-15,000, but it was soon apparent that these modest guidelines would be left behind. With 18 different phone bidders and interest in the room, four or five bidders stayed in the running for some time. There was no Japanese interest but plenty from Italy and the hammer finally fell at €282,000 (£188,000) to the Italian trade.

Three of the lacquered panels were in good condition, Piazza Montecarello had slight damage to the front and back and they all retained their original stylish gilt brass rings for hanging.

The pieces were made for export, doubtless from engravings, reckoned auctioneer Patrick Dumousset. He said that the fact the venues could be identified explained the Italian interest. He thought expert Pierre Ansas’s estimate was reasonable, and so did the (private French) vendor.

Certainly the final price, while dramatically out of line with the estimate, is not unheard of for this type of export panel. Back in 1990 at Christie’s in London, two lacquered copper panels of similar size, one featuring the naval battle of Dogger Bank and the other the interior of Santa Costanza in Rome sold for £28,000 apiece.