Nicolas Régnier was born in the Spanish Netherlands in the 1580s. His first teacher was Abraham Janssens in Antwerp, who had been working in Rome during Caravaggio’s lifetime and passed on his enthusiasm for the painter to his young pupil, who later followed his example and travelled to Italy. There he went by the name Niccolò Renieri.
After some time in Parma, he moved to Rome, where he lived and worked with many of the Dutch and Flemish artists who congregated in the city and painted in the style of Caravaggio. Régnier was later active in Mantua, Bologna and above all Venice, where he also set up shop as an antiques and art dealer. He died there in 1667.
The painting on sale in Vienna, a 2ft 4in x 22in (70 x 57cm) canvas titled Portrait of a Nobleman as Aeneas, shows the subject bearing a branch of golden laurel, which was sacred to Proserpine, the Queen of the Underworld. It can be dated to Régnier’s Venetian period and has a solid provenance. In the 17th century it belonged to the patrician family Antelminelli and has passed by descent to the current consignor.
The estimate in Vienna on June 8 is €120,000-180,000.