Titian, ‘Portrait of two boys’: est £1-1.5m

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At the heart of the sale are 10 paintings from the collection of Sir William Forbes, the 7th Baronet of Pitsligo (1773-1828) which have not been on the market since  1827-28. One of the leading early Italian lots from the Pitsligo collection is this portrait by Titian (c. 1485-1576) and his studio, probably from the early 1540s which shows two boys thought to be members of the Pesaro family. Titian produced few paintings of children and this is one of the first double portraits in Renaissance paintings. 

Lotto, ‘Portrait of an architect’: est £200,000-300,000

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Works by Lorenzo Lotto (1480-1556) rarely appear at auction, and this portrait of an architect, like the portrait of the two boys, is from the Pitsligo collection. It is thought to have been painted in the 1540s and is a recently rediscovered example of the artist’s work. Bell says of the work: “Lotto’s wonderfully quirky image of an architect has the same unconventional and dominating presence as it had 500 years ago.”

Master of the Osservanza, ‘Flagellation’: est £400,000-600,000

The Flagellation sotheby's

This rare work is recognised now as the work of the artist Sano di Pietro, who was prominent in Siena during the first half of the 15th century. The work is a gabella panel, a small work that would have served as a file cover for Sienese officials leaving office after their six-month fixed term in the Republic. They were hung on the city walls so that the public could see them.

Bicci, ‘Nativity’: est £300,000-500,000

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This Nativity scene by Bicci di Lorenzo is another example of gold-ground in the Sotheby’s sale. Bicci, who lived and worked in Florence during the early 15th century, painted the scene in the 1430s. the painting reflects his traditionalist style.

Bosschaert the Elder, ‘Still life’: est £800,000-1.2m

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Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder’s painting Still life of tulips, wild roses, cyclamen, yellow ranuculus, forget-me-not and other flowers in a glass beaker has been exhibited only once in 1970. A fine example of the artist's early work, it is one of the pioneering works of flower painting and helped popularise the genre in the Netherlands during the early 17th century.

Bruegel the Younger, ‘Return from the Kermesse’: est £2-3m

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This painting by Pieter Brueghel the Younger depicts people coming back from a kermesse or mass in which a church’s founding or patron was celebrated. The work was popular during the artist’s lifetime and is thought to be entirely of his own design. Today it remains in good condition and is one of several works in the sale which provide insight into the impact that the works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder had on Netherlandish landscape and genre painting.