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The 91-lot collection took £1.4m with the best images making five- and six-figure prices.

The Earl of Craven was a keen amateur photographer and over half the collection comprised examples of his own work, but he also collected works by other well known and now highly desirable contemporary photographers. These included no fewer than nine 1850s cloud and seascapes by Gustave Le Gray, which provided the sale’s highest prices led by this 81/2 x 12in (22 x 30cm) albumen print, pictured above right, showing The arrival of the Body of Admiral Bruat and the Flagship Montebello at Toulon, December 1855, which fetched £250,000.

It was sold to a telephone bidder described by the auctioneers as a London dealer acting for a retained client, who proved to be the sale’s major player, carrying off a number of the most expensive images.