Among them was this ink and watercolour sketch on vellum by German artist Hans Hoffmann (c.1530-91). It was one of many naturalistic studies made by Hoffmann that were either copies or reinterpretations of earlier studies by his fellow-Nuremberg artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), most commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612), no less.
The 8½ x 7in (22 x 18cm) depiction of a hare from 1582 was closely derived from a Dürer study made 80 years before (a work now in the Albertina Museum in Vienna).
Having been acquired by the vendor at Lempertz in Cologne in May 2008, where it fetched €580,000 (£461,042), it was estimated at £600,000-800,000 here at the Sotheby’s sale titled A Fine Line: Master Works on Paper from Five Centuries on July 7.
It proved a popular lot and was bid to £1.02m, the second-highest auction sum for Hoffmann but the highest for a work on paper.
Overall the sale totalled £5.1m including premium from 68 lots.