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This relined and reframed 2ft 4 1/2in x 3ft 4 1/2in (72cm x 1.02m) canvas had been entered by the widow of a North London collector who had acquired the painting at least 50 years earlier.

The collector had been convinced that the picture was the work of George Barret (1728 or 1732-1784), Ireland’s best-known 18th century landscape painter, whose name had been confidently inserted on the later frame.

However, as the canvas lacked a signature or any labels on the verso indicating its earlier provenance, the auctioneers played safe and catalogued the lot as ”Attributed to George Barret” and gave it a less-than-intimidating estimate of £4000-6000.

In the event, a number of dealers thought the picture was worth a punt at that sort of money and it was finally knocked down to the provincial trade at £9000.

To give an idea what fully authenticated and provenanced George Barret landscapes can fetch, it is worth remembering that last May’s Irish Sale at Christie’s was topped by a 3ft 4in x 4ft 1 1/2in (96cm x 1.25m) mountainous wooded river landscape which sold to an Irish private at a record £320,000.