Portrait of a lady wearing a brown dress and blue cape in a landscape setting, circle of Mary Beale (1632-1697/99), £31,000 at Mallams.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Catalogued as ‘circle of Mary Beale (1632-1697-99)’, the 4ft 2in x 3ft 5in (1.27 x 1.04m) oil on canvas was taken to £31,000, over 10 times its top estimate, in the March 8 Art & Music auction. It was lined, cleaned and restored and came from an estate in the Cotswolds.

Much of its appeal centred on the elegant sitter, shown wearing a brown dress and blue cape with a landscape behind. The auction house suggested she may have been a lady from the Fairfax family. The Fairfaxes were a long-established Yorkshire Catholic family who owned extensive land and property in the county, including their principal residence Gilling Castle, 20 miles north of York.

Mallams’ picture specialist Rupert Fogden described the portrait as “very decorative and appealing” and “in very good condition, finely painted and with a real sense of presence”. It was knocked down to a trade buyer via the phone against competition from the internet and another phone bidder.

Spanish style

Also from the same estate was a 2ft 10in x 2ft 3in (87 x 70cm) oil on canvas of a Spanish grandee wearing a white ruff and Milanese armour, catalogued as by a follower of the Dutch court painter Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt (1567-1641).

It too had been lined, cleaned and restored and contained a bird symbol on the sitter’s left arm – a possible clue as to his heritage. It sold on top estimate for £6000 to an online bidder.


The Head of Loch Lubnaig by Alfred de Breanski, £10,000 at Mallams.

Elsewhere, a typical Scottish loch scene by Victorian artist Alfred de Breanski (1852-1928) was secured by a member of the trade for £10,000, twice its mid estimate.

The Head of Loch Lubnaig, a 23in x 2ft 11in (59 x 90cm) oil on canvas of a small freshwater loch in the Highlands with cattle bathing in the water, was sold with both its original and a later replacement frame.

Though demand has declined for Breanski’s idyllic depictions of rural Scotland and Wales over the last few decades, this example was towards the upper end of prices at auction in recent years.

Multiple bids also emerged for a series of accomplished 19th century watercolours, catalogued as English School. The eight works had been taken from a portfolio of watercolours and included a 10½ x 15in (28 x 38cm) depiction of Ugbrooke Park in Devon. With a modest estimate of £100-200, it was taken to £2800, selling to the trade.