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The 240-lot, £272,680 sale offered by Bonhams & Brooks on October 30, the 368-lot, £1.07m auction of miniatures, gold boxes and vertu held by Christie’s on November 6 and the 306 lot, £212,880 sale at Bonhams on November 7 were not about to buck the trend. All recorded high selling rates: 74 per cent by lottage at the Knightsbridge rooms; 78 per cent at King Street and 71 per cent at Bond Street.

Bonhams’ auction was, as usual, predominantly composed of British works and most of the top lots sold as predicted. Leading the list was an interesting work that had the benefit of documentary reattribution to an Irish artist since its last appearance under the hammer. John Comerford (c.1770-1832) is an artist whose reputation is growing. According to Bonhams’ Camilla Seymour, as recently as two or three years ago, his works were selling in the low hundreds but are now making £2000-3000. As in so many fields of the fine and decorative arts, Irish works are in considerable demand at present, part of growing interest in Irish heritage by collectors from that country and those of Irish ancestry.

Comerford’s portrait of Charles Roper Mosely, his uncle, in the uniform of the 7th Foot, was one of a number of military works in this sale consigned to Bonhams by a collector of such subjects. When he purchased the miniature from a sale at Sotheby’s back in 1976, the portrait was catalogued as the work of Richard Bull but the vendor subsequently took the work to the late Jim Murrell at the Victoria and Albert Museum and an inscription to the reverse of the painting reading My Uncle by J Comerford, was discovered. The sitter’s appearance dates the portrait to around 1790 which would make it a very early work for the artist (no miniature by Comerford is recorded before 1798). This explains the previous misattribution, for the work is not in Comerford’s characteristic style but is a smoother simpler construction with a more limited palette than usual – “an artist new to this discipline keeping complications to a minimum and presumably, with the sitter being a family member, not working to a commission” suggested the catalogue. Offered here with a copy of the V&A’s report on the work and a fairly stiff £8000-12,000 estimate, the portrait saw particularly determined interest from collectors with Irish connections and sold for £13,000.

At Christie’s sale the following week it was Continental works that held sway. Gold boxes provided the two top prices but a portrait miniature zoomed into third position with a very strong price. This was a charming somewhat informal study of Marie Antoinette c.1790 by her court painter François Dumont. It was part of a large group of works in this sale from the collection of Dr Leo Catzenstein that made up a substantial slice of the miniature element of this auction and had earlier provenances to Michel Heine and John Pierpont Morgan. It established a new auction high for the artist when it quintupled expectations, selling to an American private buyer for £60,000.