A miniature by Henry Bone depicting the American artist Benjamin West - £5500 at Hansons.

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Painted in enamel on copper, it dated from 1803 and was signed by Bone. It came to auction with an intriguing provenance.

On the back of the 7 x 5¾in (18 x 14.5cm) miniature was an inscription stating that it was based on an original self-portrait that West painted in 1800, with the artist showing himself as very much the academic figure seated at his desk with a classical bust behind.

On separate backing paper which accompanied the lot was another inscription stating that West had given it as gift to his daughter-in-law, Mrs Raphael West, in 1820. According to the Hansons’ catalogue, the vendor’s late husband was descended from the West family on his mother’s side.

Subject matters

Prices for Bone miniatures vary quite widely and, while some can easily reach strong five-figure sums, many also sell for a range of four-figure prices. While condition, size and date all play a part, the most important factor is normally simply how appealing and rare is the subject.

Estimated at £3000-5000 in the December 10-11 Bishton Hall auction, this example sold at £5500 to a US buyer.

The price was in line with other works by Bone of leading gentlemen of the period – for example a miniature of statesman Charles James Fox made £5000 at Christie’s in November 2019.