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It surpasses the £160,000 paid at Christie’s in 1993 for the artist’s portrait of a man clasping a hand from a cloud.

The privately entered work had been estimated by Sotheby’s at a more modest £25,000-30,000 primarily because it had a 5mm artist’s join along the top. Sotheby’s thought this had probably been inserted to accommodate a change to a more fashionable high-topped hat. The artist has disguised the join with a gilt inscription giving the date and age of the sitter.