William Dobson self-portrait at Bonhams
One of the earliest-known pictures by Williams Dobson which sold for £920,000 at Bonhams.

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The 2ft x 18in (62 x 47cm) oil on canvas of the artist in a black tunic and white collar was one of the earliest-known pictures by Dobson. Painted during the 1630s, his introspective and troubled gaze reflected a tumultuous period in English history.

It was probably painted before he left for Charles I’s court in Oxford during the English Civil War where he would replace the deceased Anthony Van Dyck as serjeant painter to the king and groom of the privy chamber.

By 1791, the portrait hung in the Strickland Collection at Howsham Hall, a Jacobean stately home in North Yorkshire. It remained there until being bought by the vendor’s grandfather at the contents sale of Howsham in 1948.

It formed part of the 1962 Arts Council exhibition, British Self Portraits, and the National Portrait Gallery show William Dobson 1611- 1646: The Royalists at War, in 1983-84.

The portrait was estimated at £200,000-300,000 but a combination of rarity, condition, sensitivity and quality of execution meant that bidders were prepared to pay substantially more. The price was an auction record for Dobson, easily surpassing the artist’s previous high of £362,500 (including premium)at Sotheby’s in 2013 for Portrait of James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose.

The painting was bought by a private English collector.

Bonhams Director of Old Master Painting, Andrew McKenzie said: “It is difficult to overestimate the rarity and importance of this work in the history of British art and I am not surprised that it has sold for a such a very high record price.”