Depicting the scene in Ovid's ‘Metamorphoses’ when Acis turns into an immortal river spirit, the 3ft 1in x 4ft 6in (95cm x 1.36m) oil on canvas drew eight phone bidders against a £6000-8000 estimate at the Gloucestershire auction on March 28-29.
It was catalogued as ‘18th century French School’ but interest prior to sale meant the auctioneers were confident of achieving a price around the £15,000 level.
However, while a number of bidders were in contention up to £20,000, it was taken onwards by two interested parties until it was eventually knocked down to an international dealer on the phone at £58,000.
Emerging from Storage
The picture came to auction from a private collection that had been kept in storage near Salisbury for around 12 years.
Consigned by the descendants of the original owner, the collection provided the auctioneers with around 50 lots of the sale including a number of Oriental items. As with other works from the same source, this picture had apparently been acquired in Paris in the 1970s or 80s.
Relined but in decent overall condition, Chorley’s picture specialist Thomas Jenner-Fust said bidders seemingly agreed on the 18th century date but a possible attribution may well emerge after further research.
Elsewhere in the sale but from the same source was a Chinese wucai bonsai pot, decorated dragons and flaming pearls, that also drew strong interest against a £1000-1500 estimate and was knocked down at £9500.