The Lion Hunt, a painting catalogued as ‘French, first half 19th century’, SFr45,000 (£39,825) at Schuler in Switzerland.

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The rear of the stretcher frame bore the inscription A. Verestchagen, but the auctioneers obviously did not consider that the Russian painter, about whom very little is known, had created it. Instead, they catalogued the 2ft 2in x 3ft 3in (67 x 98cm) canvas as ‘French, first half 19th century’ and left it to the bidders to come to their own conclusion.

Before the sale, several experts thought they recognised the style of the Orientalist painter Emile Jean-Horace Vernet, generally known simply as Horace Vernet. He was primarily known for his battle scenes and exotic subjects so this work could conceivably be part of his oeuvre.

At the auction, held in Zürich from March 22-24, there were plenty of takers. After a prolonged exchange of bids, the painting was knocked down to a French buyer for SFr45,000 (£39,825), the highest price of the sale.