The Forum with the Temple of Castor and Pollux, one of a pair of works by Bernardo Bellotto that sold together for £5.8m at Christie’s.

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The Forum with the Temple of Castor and Pollux (shown here) and The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina in the Forum, both 2ft 3/8in x 3ft 21/8in (62 x 97cm), are among a group of pictures of Rome painted by the youthful Bernardo Bellotto c.1742-43 at the outset of his independent career under the strong influence of his uncle, Antonio Canal, il Canaletto.

They were purchased by the merchant and banker Joseph 'Consul' Smith (c.1674-1770) - the single most important patron of Canaletto's career - and were among a group of pictures sold by his widow in 1773 to the MP Patrick Home of Wedderburn (1728-1808).

Consigned from outside the EU, they were subject to VAT rate of 5 per cent payable on hammer price and at 17.5 per cent on the buyer's premium. However, this did not appear to damage their commercial appeal. They improved upon a £3m-4m estimate to sell to a European private buyer at £5.8m.