Portrait of Anne Dorothy Smith-Barry catalogued as ‘attributed to Thomas Hudson’ – £9200 at Busby.

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The portrait of a young girl had been kept on a wall in the vendor’s house – which was so close to Busby that it was carried on foot to the saleroom.

It depicted Anne Dorothy Smith-Barry (1748-97) wearing a silver silk dress with lace collar, bonnet and trim holding a small wreath of flowers. She was the daughter of John Smith-Barry, a landowner with extensive holdings in Cheshire and Co Cork, Ireland.

Leading London portraitist 

Measuring 2ft 5in x 2ft (74 x 61cm), it had passed by descent through the Smith-Barry family and via marriage down to the vendor. According to family tradition, it was by Thomas Hudson (1701-79) – an artist born in Exeter who became a leading London portraitist in his day.

He painted a number of prominent child portraits; not least the large-scale double portrait of the young sons of Robert Ker, 2nd Duke of Roxburghe, that made a record $360,000 (£276,540) when it last appeared on the market at Christie’s New York in October 2020.

The painting in Dorset was offered as ‘attributed to’ Thomas Hudson and pitched at a conservative £6000-8000.

With the bidding opening low at £3500, it attracted decent interest and sold at £9200 to a private buyer in the West Country.