Jesus Wearing the Crown of Thorns, an oil on copper panel measuring just 34 cm by 24 cm made a hammer price of 120,000 at the James Adam interiors sale in Dublin yesterday. It had been estimated at 500-800.
A number of bidders had registered to bid on the phone and on the internet for the lot. Eventually there was a bidding battle for the work between two internet bidders, neither of whom had actually viewed the painting.
The work came from an institution that was having a clear out. Auctioneer James O’Halloran said he spotted it in a corridor because of the fantastic frame in which it was contained. It was labelled “Italian School” and 19th century. Copper is notoriously difficult to date, and it is now assumed that the work is from the 17th century. The artist remains unknown at this stage.
The work aroused strong interest from Italy and it is now leaving Ireland. It is what auctioneers describe as a “sleeper”, a lot where the bidding unexpectedly takes off once it opens. This 120,000 hammer price followed a five minute bidding battle.