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The work was acquired 70 years ago by a private collector and is making a first appearance at a public auction.

This small painting, measuring 6¼ x 8¼in (16 x 21cm), was done in 1883, two years before Roberts returned to Australia from a trip to Europe which he undertook from 1881-85. It shows the colourfully costumed tradesman with his beast of burden both bathed in bright sunlight.

The detailed sketch provides a faithful record of the oil painting. It was made in a letter to the friend in Melbourne and is inscribed Excuse the roughness of the sketch, the mail closes today and I have only this morning to write all my letters up.

The estimate is Aus$120,000-160,000.