Austrian auction house Dorotheum's Old Master Auction set the record for the highest selling price ever achieved in an Austrian auction, as well as the highest price ever paid for a Verbeeck.
The title lot of the auction, "The Mocking of Human Follies", bears resemblance in style with signature works by Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel. In the painting, a multitude of characters are pictured in various detailed and bizarre scenes, serving clearly as vivid illustrations of historical sayings that revolve around the eternal theme of human idiocy and foolishness.
The painting sold for €3,035,000 after a hard-fought bidding war, and went to an unnamed Flemish bidder. It was originally estimated to sell for between €900,000 and €1,200,000.
According to the Dorotheum catalog, "the subject of the mocking of human follies and its unique and scenically elaborate visual translation deviates from the hitherto known themes of the Verbeeck group, mainly treating, as far as the works in question have survived, peasant weddings, the Temptation of Saint Anthony, and, in one example, an allegory of gluttony."
"The present composition, different from the Verbeecks’ commonly small-sized paintings on cloth, also stands out for its large scale and the employment of oil paint instead of tempera, which was otherwise used almost without exception."
Detail from painting. Photo: Dorotheum