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Measuring 61/4 by 20in (16 x 51cm) and executed in black chalk, brush and brown ink, grey, brown and yellow wash, this was one of a series of panoramas of Dutch cities drawn by Cuyp between 1645-1652.

This example was particularly fascinating for being connected with a painting of Dordrecht which was cut in half in the late 18th century and is now divided between the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum der Bildenden Kunst, Leipzig.

The drawing, by contrast, was in superbly preserved condition with much of the original gum arabic heightening in the foreground still intact. It had been entered from a Private New England Trust, having last appeared at auction at Parke Bernet, New York in 1947, and was thought to be the last of its type still left in private hands.

The quality and rarity of this drawing were not lost on the higher echelons of the Old Master trade. Intense competition between the dealers Robert Noortman, Bob Haboldt and Colnaghi’s Jean-Luc Baroni in the room and an unknown telephone bidder left the estimate of $100,000-150,000 far behind, the hammer finally falling at $2.6m (£1.83m), a record for a drawing by the artist.

Speaking after the sale, Jean-Luc Baroni was highly enthusiastic about his purchase. “This is a great, great drawing.

“The only comparable drawings are by Rembrandt, and they’re not as rare and they’re much smaller. This is something else.

“It’s like a painting. If anyone’s interested in buying a great Cuyp drawing, this is the drawing to have.”

Naturally enough it will be the centrepiece of Colnaghi’s stand at the forthcoming Maastricht Fair.