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‘A Rear Profile of a Lady's Head’, a work catalogued as ‘attributed to Matthew Ridley Corbet’ at John Nicholson's. It sold at £21,000.

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Corbet works do not appear at auction very often and figurative pictures are especially rare.

From about 1883, as he became associated with the Etruscans group of artists, his output was almost exclusively landscapes. Most of these works now tend to sell for under £5000 at auction.

However, he did produce a smaller group of portraits and classical scenes, mainly in the 1870s.

The 10 x 8in (25 x 20cm) oil on canvas in Surrey shows the head and shoulders of a dark-haired girl in a cotton smock painted from behind.

Bearing a signature lower right, it may have been painted in Italy, where Corbet met and was influenced by Giovanni Costa and Frederic Leighton.

Consigned from a deceased estate in Hindhead, it had an estimate of £300-500 on July 25. After generating determined bidding between a room bidder and another party on the phone, it was eventually knocked down to the latter at £21,000 (plus 24% buyer’s premium).

According to Art Sales Index, the only Corbet to have made more at auction was a much larger oil of classical maidens that took £25,000 at Bonhams in 2003.