Possible Constable picture

On the Medway, a work with Constable’s name on an old label, €46,000 (£39,655) at Neumeister.

Photo: Walter Bayer

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Even though the attribution to John Constable could not be confirmed by experts in London, the presence of his name on an old label on the back of an 8 x 12in (20 x 30cm) oil sketch undoubtedly inspired the bidders at Neumeister (30% buyer’s premium) on March 20.

The Munich auction house was cautious in the catalogue entry, describing the sketch, which was titled On the Medway, as “England (?) 1st half 19th century” and setting the guide at €1000.

It is well known that Constable visited the River Medway on numerous occasions. In 1803 he even spent a month on a ship on the Medway and the Thames, producing some 130 drawings, mostly of ships, in the process. The tentative connection to the great artist, however flimsy, fuelled the determination of several bidders. The successful buyer, who put up €46,000 (£39,655), comes from London.

Another painting with an unconfirmed attribution caused an even greater stir.

17th century picture

A portrait of a six-month-old girl inscribed Cornelia, €95,000 (£81,895) at Neumeister.

Photo: Walter Bayer

The 18 x 13in (47 x 33cm) portrait of a six-month-old girl was inscribed Cornelia and catalogued as the work of a Flemish artist from the first half of the 17th century. On the back was an older catalogue entry from an unknown German auction house describing the painting as the work of Cornelis de Vos, a portrait of his young daughter.

Once again, the bidders rose to the occasion and finally it was down to a bidder from London and a Belgian collector. The latter proved to be more determined, but at a cost: the closing bid was €95,000 (£81,895), more than 30 times the estimate.