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Entered from a Long Island private collection, having been acquired in the 1960s, the signed 2ft 4in x 2ft 1in (76 x 63cm) painting was presented in a period frame and carrying an inventory number from the collection of the celebrated 19th century English collector, Sir Francis Cook of Doughty House, Richmond-upon-Thames.

Cook was a merchant draper whose collection of Dutch Old Masters was one of the most famous in the country before it was dispersed by his descendants during the early 20th century.

In addition to this prestigious provenance, the painting, which showed a favourite 17th century Dutch subject of a courtesan bargaining with a client, also boasted some superb drapery and still life passages.

The canvas had been re-lined but the paint structure appears to have been well preserved.

Maastricht dealer Robert Noortman was understandably keen to acquire this highly commercial painting but in the end he had to give way to fellow Dutch dealer and Maastricht exhibitor Saloman Lilian, bidding on behalf of a client.

At $480,000 (£272,720) against a pre-sale estimate of $80,000-120,000, this appears to be the second highest price ever achieved for the artist.

It was also by far the top selling picture, although a Thomas Lawrence and Studio (1769-18830) Portrait of an Officer of the 11th Light Dragoons, formerly in the Ralph Lawren Collection, also did well.

Estimated at up to $15,000, the 3ft 1/4in x 2ft 41/4in (92 x 72cm) oil on canvas sold at $37,000 (£21,000).

Right: Gottfried Schalken’s oil of a courtesan and a client which took $480,000 (£272,720) at Doyle’s sale.