The 10½ x 9in (27 x 22.5cm) work painted on slate and signed J Stella Fecit to the reverse depicts a biblical subject, Judith with the head of Holofernes, and was discovered by Xavier de la Perraudière of Ivoire Angers (21% buyer’s premium inc VAT) auction house in a local property.
Painting on slate was a speciality for Stella but this is the only known example of a signed work in this medium. It is dated to the early part of his career between his visit to Rome and his departure for Paris in 1684-5.
No fewer than 10 bidders contested the work to a multiple of its €20,000-30,000 estimate before it was hammered down for an overseas buyer at €310,000 (£276,785).
According to Art Sales Index, the previous auction high for the artist was an 11 x 17in (28 x 43cm) painting in oil on copper of the Holy Family sold in June 2007 at Uppsala Auktionskammare in Sweden for a hammer price of SwKr1.65m (then around £120,440).