The 4ft 6in x 6ft 1in (1.36 x 1.85m) oil on canvas was signed and dated 1899 and a plaque on the gilt frame indicated that the painting had been one of the artist’s Royal Academy exhibits.
Entitled Elaine, it had a typically aesthetic subject derived from Arthurian legend – Elaine of Astolat died of her unrequited love for Sir Lancelot and her body was placed in a small boat which floats down to Camelot.
The picture was part of a local consignment from a private collector who is in the process of moving home, and who had acquired a series of pictures from the London salerooms in the 1960s and ’70s. This example had been purchased by the vendor for £200 at Sotheby’s in May 1970.
The auctioneers were under no pressure to push up estimate and it was pitched here at £15,000-25,000.
On the day, multiple bidders competed for the lot and auctioneer Ian Brasher reported both trade and private interest. It was eventually knocked down at £240,000 to a buyer in the room who saw off interest from a number of interested parties on the phone.
The price was a house record, surpassing the £110,000 for a Cartier bracelet that was the previous saleroom high at House & Son.