There was high excitement at The Auction Centre, Leyburn on March 30 when Sean Keating’s Ulysses off Connemara shot to a remarkable £400,000 (plus 15/10 per cent premium), a record for the artist and a house record for Tennants.

Ulysses off Connemara by Sean Keating made a record £400,000 at Tennants on March 30.

The 4ft (1.22m) oil on hardboard, depicting figures off the west coast of Ireland preparing to leave for North America, had been consigned for sale by a south Yorkshire vendor whose family had bought it for £250 when it was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1952.

Preserved behind a thick coat of nicotine - it promised a very rewarding clean - the emotive scene, estimated at £30,000-50,000, prompted bidding from a dozen telephones and a further six paddles in the room. The Irish buyer, who was in the room, was thought to represent a private client.

The previous record for Sean Keating (1889-1977) was the €170,000 (£114,000) paid for Self Portrait - Man of Aran at James Adam of Dublin in May 2004.