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Although a modest selection (it netted just £43,000), it saw a high take-up, with just 16 lots unsold – a selling rate of 85 per cent that specialist Siobhan Quinn reckoned owed much to the material being “90 per cent private”, with some nice provenances.

A case in point was the sale’s best seller, pictured on the cover of the catalogue and shown here. This was a Roman mosaic panel of first century BC/AD date, in a wooden banded frame measuring 9in by 8in (22.5 x 20cm) and set with a comic actor’s mask, composed of tesserae of almost micromosaic proportions. Entered for sale from a deceased private British collection, in whose family Siobhan Quinn reckoned it had been for over half a century, it also had the bonus of an old copperplate written ink-inscribed label to the reverse, detailing its earlier history. This stated that This Mosaic Larva … of the Compartments in the Bath in the Farnese Gardens at Rome … a most perfect and highly valuable specimen of the mosaic workmanship during the Augustan age... was brought from Italy by the Honble. Rev H H Dawnay in the years of 1795.

Dawnay came from a family of Grand Tour collectors, his father meriting a reference in John Ingamell’s Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the piece generated pre-sale interest from the Italian trade. It sold for £6000, the lower end of its £6000-8000 estimate.