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The sting in the tail for this Gainsborough drawing is that at its previous outing in the same rooms in November 1999 it stormed ahead of the top expectation of £60,000 to bring a bid of £100,000 (£114,625 with premium).

So, in under five years this important work has lost ground by £65,000, and that, of course, is not taking into account factors such as inflation.

That most repeated prescription of 'only buy the best' failed in this instance because, dating to the mid-1780s, this woodland landscape with sheep is deemed by experts to be one of the artist's finest drawings of the period and is particularly rare because of the colour washes - most of his later sketches being in monochrome.