In the early 19th century, it was decided to complete the building and add the two spires which are now such a distinctive feature of the city.
Victorian artist James R Webb’s (1835-95) visit to Cologne in 1869 coincided with an important phase in the building works.
The giant crane had finally been removed and the scaffolding for the construction of the twin towers was already in place. All of this was documented in Webb’s painting of the following year, Ansicht von Köln mit dem unvollendeten Dom (View of Cologne with the uncompleted cathedral), three versions of which are known.
At 6ft x 9ft (1.83 x 2.75m), the canvas offered by Van Ham (29/25% buyer’s premium) on May 28 is by far and away the largest. And thanks to the efforts of a local philanthropist, who bought it at a mid-estimate €125,000 (£111,610), it will soon have pride of place in Cologne’s town hall.