A sleeper spotted beneath the Neapolitan dirt

This oil of the Palazzo Reale sold for €122,000 (£108,000) in a Rome auction.

Despite surface dirt and other condition issues, a painting of Naples drew a dramatic bidding competition at a recent auction in Rome.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Alex Capon

Offered at Babuino Casa d’Aste on September 17, the view of the Palazzo Reale with red-coated soldiers was estimated at €800-1200 but was eventually knocked down at €122,000 (£108,000) plus 25% buyer’s premium.

The 2ft 1in x 3ft 4in (63cm x 1.02m) oil on canvas came from a local source and was catalogued simply as ‘Neapolitan painter, 18th century’. It had some restoration and had been relined.

It seems likely that bidders were speculating on the presence of a significant hand – perhaps Antonio Joli (1700-77), who settled in Naples in the last 20 years of his life and served as court painter to Charles VII. Another name suggested was Pietro Fabris (fl.1740-92) who specialised in Neapolitan scenes for Grand Tourists.