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A winter landscape attributed to Ivan Pavlovich Pokhitonov which sold for €19,000 (£16,520) at Wendl.

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However, this did little to deter the bidders, online and on the phones, who saw to it that 75% of the 3000 lots on offer found new owners.

The two top lots had a Franco-Russian connection and went way over their reserves.

First up was a winter landscape, a 5½ x 8in (14 x 21cm) panel, attributed to Ivan Pavlovich Pokhitonov.

He was born in southern Russia in 1850, in a landscape dominated by extensive plains and flooded lowlands, features that were to recur frequently in his paintings.

He originally trained at agricultural colleges and spent some time working at a bank before he devoted himself to art and later moved to Paris.

Even though Pokhitonov lacked a formal training, his talent was recognised and his works were praised by fellow artists and critics alike. Winter landscapes were one of his specialties; he once said that snow had its own language.

The painting in Rudolstadt was in the catalogue for €240, but numerous phone bidders and several online bidders took the price to €19,000 (£16,520), bid by an Italian collector.

Take me to the river

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Alexandre Benois’ painting 'In the Park at Versailles' – €15,000 (£13,040) at Wendl.

Like Pokhitonov, Alexandre Nikolayevich Benois had not planned to become an artist.

After training as a lawyer, he discovered his passion for art and theatre, spending much of his career as a stage designer and painter. From 1905 onwards, he lived for the most part in Paris, where he died in 1960.

His 1ft 11in x 2ft 5in (59 x 73cm) painting In the Park at Versailles was dated 1914 and depicts the late 17th century bronze sculpture personifying the Garonne River on the bank of the Bassin du Nord in the château grounds.

After prolonged bidding, it rose from the guide of €240 to a hammer price of €15,000 (£13,040), going to a Polish buyer.