Painting of the repentant St Peter by Jusepe de Ribera - €1.1m (£940,070) at Gros & Delettrez in Paris.

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The unpublished oil on canvas, which is signed Jusepe de Ribera espagnol F/1638, measures 2ft 6in x 2ft 1in (76 x 64cm) and was contained in its original 17th century gilt wood frame, had a 19th century provenance to the collection of Blaise Léon Rochette de Lempedes (1809-76) and had passed down by descent.

A wax seal on the original frame preserved during restoration of the painting in the 1970s indicates the painting was formerly in the collection of the Italian cardinal Flavio Chigi (1631-93).

The painting, which dates from the period when Ribera was based in Naples, depicts the apostle with hands clasped in front of a key and with a sorrowful expression on his face.

It relates to an episode in the bible where, when Christ is arrested, Peter denies knowing him three times. At this point a cockerel crows, recalling a prediction made by Christ that a triple denial by the apostle would take place before the cockerel crows.

Frequent subject

St Peter is a subject that was frequently painted by Ribera throughout his career; around 20 half-length and 10 full-length portrayals by the artist are known.

The price paid at the Gros & Delettrez sale, held at the Drouot auction centre on December 13, was well in excess of the €200,000-300,000 estimate.