The 2ft 3in x 4ft 3in (68cm x 1.3m) oil on canvas Circe and the friends of Ulysses, depicts the episode when the beautiful enchantress lures Ulysses’ men to a feast and slips a potion into their drinks that transforms the men into pigs.
It was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1871 where it was met with critical acclaim, particularly for the depiction of the swine.
John Kynaston Cross, industrialist and member of parliament for Bolton, owned the picture until his death in 1887 when it passed to his wife.
The first and only time it appeared at auction was in 1911, at Tooth & Tooth’s, where it sold to the art dealer William Walker Sampson for the princely sum of £385. Since then its whereabouts had been unknown until it was recently discovered by Toovey’s at a local deceased estate.
It is estimated at £30,000-50,000 at Toovey’s September 5 sale in Washington, West Sussex.