Portrait of a Young Friar, a pastel on paper by Rosalba Carriera, €60,000 at Lucas Aste.

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Often cited as one of the most commercially successful female artists of the 18th century - in her pomp she painted literally hundreds of pastel portraits for the great and the good of courtly Europe - Carriera is increasingly appreciated as more than just ‘the greatest woman artist of her day’.

She set rather than followed artistic trends. She was influential in introducing the rococo style and helped popularise the medium of pastels in 18th century Europe. As a miniaturist, she was one of the first painters to use ivory instead of vellum as a support.

Much of this had been lost to art history. Her work quite rapidly went out of fashion as the desire for the rococo and her fame waned.

However, it is indicative of current collecting trends and the upswell of interest in ‘the female gaze’ that this relatively modest example of her craft created huge interest at Lucas Aste (32% buyer’s premium) in Milan on February 20.

Authenticated by Italian art specialist Dr Dario Succi, the 21 x 18in (52 x 41cm) image of a Dominican monk was estimated at €6000-9000 and hammered for €60,000.