The Corcoran Gallery of Art is richer by $670,800 after a public auction yesterday of 100 paintings from its 19th-century European collections. That amount is considerably higher than the $500,000 they were expected to bring. The sale took place at Sotheby Parke Bernet in New York.

Thirty-one of the works sold were donated by William Wilson Corcoran when the gallery was founded in 1869. Nearly all were of minor esthetic interest, with genre scenes and landscapes, with and without cows, predominating.

"Very few of these works had been exhibited in recent years because of the Corcoran's increased emphasis on American art," said the gallery's director, Peter Marzio, explaining the de-accessions. The proceeds will be used solely for the purchase of American art of historical importance," he added.

"The Death of Moses" by French painter Alexandre Cabanel, estimated to sell at $25,000, brought the highest price in the sale, a surprising $70,000. It was bought by a London dealer.

The best paintings in the show also brought good prices. A handsome portrait of Jayne Hill by Swedish artist Anders Zorn was knocked down at $14,000 (presale estimate was $8,000). Another fine work by Jean Baptiste Edouard Detaille, "Le Regiment Qui Passe," painted in Paris in 1874, brought double its estimated $15,000.

All works in the auction were sold, establishing new price records for 6 minor artist, including Cabanel and Detaille.