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.
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.