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This little pencil sketch of a horse on the back of Degas’ visiting card surprised bidders with its popularity at Christie’s, where it was contested to $36,000 (£31,305).

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Asked by ATG what she felt about the slightly uneven nature of the results, she too thought it was “difficult to read, as I think for everyone”, but she also singled out the dramatic price for the top lot. ”I did not think the Gladiator Borghese would go so high but we were told it had potential, ”she said, adding: “It was very modern in its execution.”

But she also highlighted the price for the pencil drawing of a horse on the back of a 2½ x 3¾in (6 x 10in) visiting card with Degas’ name in script to the reverse. “Just a tiny thing but there was an emotional aspect to it – it was the carte de visite of the artist,” she said.

Did Barde have any regrets about the sale of her great-uncle’s works? “There was a little bit of sadness because it’s a whole period of Degas’ youth that we have revisited. But on the other hand, it is nice to think that other people will benefit from them and have the pleasure of seeing them on their walls. That makes me happy.”