Catalogued as ‘Emilian school (mid-18th century)’, this pastel study sold for £22,000 at Chiswick Auctions.

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One lot bringing dramatic bidding was a head study of a young man catalogued as ‘Emilian school (mid-18th century)’ and estimated at £600-800. However, a number of bidders believed the 15 x 11in (38 x 28cm) pastel on paper to be of an earlier date.

In terms of a possible attribution, one name tentatively mentioned to ATG was Domenico Beccafumi (1484-1551), a Sienese artist who adopted similar facial types and often worked on paper with a brown ground. Another was Claudio Ridolfi (1570-1644), an artist from Verona who was active mainly in Rome and Urbino.

Whether the final bidders in contention had a clearer idea of an attribution is unknown, but international interest emerged as six phone lines competed with some determined online bidding. It was eventually sold at £22,000 to an internet bid from the London trade.