Sidney Nolan's First Class Marksman 1946, which sold for Aus$4.5m (£2.9m) at Menzies Arts Brands on March 25. The price was the highest ever seen at auction for an Australian artwork.

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The initialled and dated 3ft x 4ft (91cm x 1.21m) ripolin enamel on a composition board, which was estimated at Aus$3m-5m at the auction on March 25, was acquired by the Vizard Foundation as a donation from Stephen Vizard in 1992 and has since been on display at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Proceeds from the sale will help fund a number of the foundation's projects.

First Class Marksman is from a well-known series of 27 paintings, originally exhibited in Melbourne in 1948, based around the Australian folk hero Ned Kelly, an Irish-Australian bushranger who defied colonial authorities.

The remaining 26 paintings from the series are now owned by the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, so this was the last to remain in private hands, contributing to the level of interest.

The former record for an Australian painting was Aus$3.48m (including premium) for Brett Whiteley's Olgas for Earnest Giles at Deutscher-Menzies in Sydney in 2007, whilst the previous auction record for a Nolan was Aus$1,322,500 (including premium) for Death of Constable Scanlon at Christie's Melbourne in June 2000.

The buyer's premium at Menzies Arts Brands was 20 per cent. £1 = Aus$1.53