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Most of the 20 letters and documents relate to the construction of the altar that was to house the painting, but the archive did include a signed receipt for two payments to Guercino by Bertalozzi and a letter of 1655 in which the artist expresses the hope that the finished work will be acceptable and informs his patron that his nephew will supervise its delivery and take care of any adjustments.

Other artist autographs seen in the New Bond Street sale included a letter of 1911 in which Egon Schiele begs his patron, Dr Alfred Spitzer, for help in paying the rent. This made £6500, while literary entries included an autograph working manuscript of Mikhail Lermontov’s poem Don’t cry, don’t cry, my child, two eight-line stanzas in which a girl abandoned by her soldier lover is told that there are plenty more fine young men in Georgia more worthy of her favours. This sold at £11,500.

Sold at £5000 was a single leaf from one of the two dozen or more preparatory notebooks used by Karl Marx when researching Das Kapital in the British Museum. Browned and frayed at the edges, this particular leaf is based on his 1850 reading of a copy of Gilbart’s Practical Treatise on Banking.