Hendrik van Minderhout's view of Ostend
‘A view of Ostend, with the Fort Saint Philippe and the Slijkens Sluice’ by Hendrik van Minderhout. It is estimated at £20,000-30,000 at Sotheby’s online sale of works from the Rafael Valls gallery.

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The auction, running from April 1-8, represents Sotheby’s first online-only sale of Old Masters devoted to a single dealer.

It will feature around 100 works from the 16th to the 20th centuries amassed over the dealer’s career in the business. Estimates will range from under £1000 up to £30,000.

Valls has spent nearly four decades as a dealer and his St James’s gallery, which he owns and runs with his wife Caroline, specialises in Dutch, Flemish and Spanish works. His stand at the annual TEFAF Maastricht is often a keen topic of conversation at the fair, such as when it was inventively designed to resemble a 17th century Dutch interior.

Dutch School portrait

A Dutch School portrait of a young boy from c.1630, estimated at £8,000-12,000 at Sotheby’s online sale of works from the Rafael Valls gallery.

Sotheby’s has staged increasing numbers of stock sales for leading Old Masters dealers in the last five years, including the auction of a group of Renaissance and Mannerist works assembled by Fabrizio Moretti offered in 2015 and paintings from dealer Otto Naumann in January 2018. The auction house has also been expanding its general online sales of Old Masters since they were launched three years ago.

Among the works on offer at the latest sale is A view of Ostend by Hendrik van Minderhout. Dated to 1675, it shows a topographical view of the Belgian city with the crown-shaped Fort of Saint Philippe in the foreground. The fort guarded the locks of the canal. It is estimated at £20,000-30,000.

"New audiences"

Sotheby’s head of Old Master paintings Andrew Fletcher said: “Since launching in 2017, our online Old Masters sales have proven to be a powerful platform for opening the field to new audiences while affording established buyers a new means of adding to their collections.

“In offering this diverse selection of paintings in a dedicated sale we hope to present our buyers with a unique opportunity to acquire high-quality works chosen over the course of an entire career by one of the most esteemed Old Masters dealers in Europe.”

Toby Campbell, director of the Rafael Valls dealership, said: “We’re pleased to be able to offer works reflecting Rafael Valls’ taste and eclecticism to a wider audience in partnership with Sotheby’s and are very excited to be part of the digital side of their business.”

Works from the sale will be on view at Sotheby’s New Bond Street Galleries from April 4-8.