TAKE a beautiful sitter, a leading portraitist, add a touch of glamour and offer with an appetising estimate. Such is the recipe for a riotous bidding feast.
All these ingredients were mixed together out in North Eastern
America last month when this striking portrait of Lady Charlotte
Percy, Countess of Ashburnham by Sir John Hoppner (1758-1810) came
up at Maine auctioneers James D. Julia on February
Estimated at $15,000-20,000, it came from a private collection
in New Jersey, having been purchased by the vendor's family along
with a number of other pictures from New York galleries in the
The subject was the second wife of George Ashburnham, third Earl
of Ashburnham, with whom she had 13 children. This 4ft 2in x 3ft
4in (1.28 x 1.02m) oil on canvas was painted in 1794, the year
before they married.
The picture, regarded as one of the artist's most stylish
portraits, became well known in its day and an engraving of the
image by Charles Wilkin appears in the plate-book A Select
Series of Ladies of Rank and Fashion, issued between 1797 and
At the sale the portrait drew considerable US and overseas
interest, with more than ten interested parties. Strong bidding
came from both Britain and Europe, but it was knocked down to a
buyer from the Eastern United States at $165,000 (£108,550) plus 15
per cent premium.
The price was the second highest made at auction for Hoppner
according to Artnet, only behind the £150,000 seen for Portrait of
a Lady as Evelina, sold at Sotheby's in London in November
By Alex Capon
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