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The Lost Shilling by Frederick Daniel Hardy (1827-1911), which had been in the same family for over half a century, was secured by a private buyer at a mid-estimate £9000 – the highest price for the artist in a decade, according to the Art Sales Index.

Shown above left, this depicts a father looking for his young child’s lost coin under the floorboards. The 2ft x 3ft (61 x 91cm) oil on canvas dates from 1868 and was probably one of four works the artist exhibited at the Royal Academy that year.

The late 1860s was a particularly productive period of the artist’s career, when he was working at Cranbrook in Kent and making a good living selling his nostalgic genre works.

Scottish collector

The auction also included a dozen Scottish paintings descended through the family of an Edinburgh collector called Samuel Atherton. The top price of the group at £5200 was The Window (above), an interior scene by the portrait and landscape painter William Hutchinson (1889-1970).

The 2ft 7in x 2ft 1in (79 x 63cm) oil on canvas was painted in 1926 and depicts two figures by an elegant window and a snowy garden beyond.

Top-seller was a portrait of the MP William Northey in a red velvet coat and waistcoat painted by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) in the 1760s. Described by Brightwells specialist James Pearn as a solid but not spectacular example of Gainsborough’s portraiture, it sold on bottom estimate at £12,000, a little way off the premium-inclusive £21,600 it achieved at its last auction outing at Christie’s London in 2005.

These and other traditional British pictures provided the main thrust of Brightwells’ buoyant 104-lot picture section, which totalled in the region of £100,000 with 92% of lots sold.