Spanish Miniature Painting Purchased at a Jumble Sale Soars to £16,000

Posted On: 09 Dec 2023 by Felix Turner

A 17th Century Spanish miniature painting probably depicting Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566-1633) or her younger sister Catalina Micaela of Spain (1567-1597), daughters of King Phillip of Spain II (1527-1598) sold at Wimbledon Auctions on Monday 4th December for £16,000 plus buyers premium.

Spanish Miniature Painting Purchased at a Jumble Sale Soars to £16,000

On the 4th December, Wimbledon Auctions hosted the Christmas Auction of Art, Antiques and Jewellery. Consigned to the auction was a house contents from a local Wimbledon Village estate, next to Wimbledon Common. Amongst the usual furniture, pictures and ceramics was a small miniature painting of a lady in an ornate tabernacle style frame. The vendor mentioned that his parents had bought the miniature painting, measuring no more than 9cm by 6cm, from a local Wimbledon Village school jumble sale a long time ago and that it was believed to have some age and possibly some value. The painting, which appeared to be painted on card or pasteboard and then laid on a thin piece of wood, depicted a young lady or girl dressed in a red garment with white ruff, adorned with gold jewellery and wearing what appeared to be a crown. The jewellery, clothing and headdress certainly gave a strong impression that the sitter for the portrait may have had Royal connections. Felix removed the painting from the frame, and carefully took it up to a fine art dealership in London for further examination. The conclusion was that the portrait was at least 17th century, and may depict Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566-1633), daughter of Phillip II of Spain (1527-1598) and sovereign of the Spanish Netherlands in the Low Countries and the north of modern France with her husband, Archduke Albert VII of Austria. Further online research and comparison to contemporary portraits of the period revealed that the painting could also depict Isabella Clara Eugenia's younger sister Catalina Micaela of Spain (1567-1597).

With this information, the portrait was offered with a guiding estimate of £600-800 on the 4th December. On the day of the sale, online bidding quickly rose to £3,000. Attention then turned to two telephone bidders who had booked lines for the sale of this painting. A telephone bidder in London, and the other abroad competed against one another as well a determined online bidder. The bidding quickly rose past £10,000, and after a five-minute battle, the online bidder prevailed and the hammer fell at £16,000. 

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