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The four works, offered alongside antiques, were consigned from the estate of his late wife Lady Mary Nolan to Leominster saleroom Brightwells (22% buyer’s premium) on March 21.

The couple had lived for many years at the Rodd, an imposing Elizabethan manor house on the Wales-England border not far from Leominster.

The most keenly contested work from the quartet was a pair of paintings by the versatile English artist William Nicholson (1872-1949).

The larger of the two, Storm on the Sussex Downs, a 22 x 24in (56 x 60cm) oil on canvas, sold for £46,000 to a private buyer. It had last been seen at auction at Sotheby’s in 1934, when it sold for £10.

The location depicted is the Downs near Rottingdean, where the artist lived from 1909-14. Around a dozen versions of the same deserted rolling hills have sold on the secondary market before, but only two have fetched higher sums according to the Art Sales Index.

The other Nicholson canvas, a smaller sun-drenched landscape titled Hot Day, also attracted considerable interest from both trade and private buyers. It was knocked down to a winning bid of £9500 against a £4000- 6000 guide.

A third painting, most likely bought to hang at the Rodd, was an attractive Anglo-Netherlandish portrait of a lady catalogued as by a follower of the 17th century portraitist Cornelius Johnson (1593-1664).

It drew strong bidding in the room and on the phone before it was knocked down to the latter for £16,000.

The sale was led by a small 18th century devotional painting on copper of St Joseph by the Bolognese artist Gaetano Gandolfi (1734-1802), consigned from a local family in Herefordshire.

It sold for more than eight times its top guide at £74,000 – a new house record for a painting at Brightwells (see ATG No 2336).