Portrait of Miss Connolly by Rev Matthew William Peters – £5600 at Bamfords.

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Born on the Isle of Wight in the first half of the 19th century, the painter and engraver trained in the Dublin Society Schools under Irish artist Robert West, before travelling to Italy to copy the works of Old Masters such as Rubens and Titian.

Despite his prodigious talent, he was overshadowed by his three great contemporaries, Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough and George Romney, and was regarded as an amateur painter after he assumed the cloth.

While his younger years were characterised by a series of fine society portraits of beautiful young women (some of his more risqué subjects he later regretted painting), his later works focused on historical and religious subjects and the portraits of pious children.

An example of the latter was consigned to Bamfords’ (17.5% buyer’s premium) sale in Derby on January 25. The 3ft 3in x 2ft 2in (99 x 65cm) oil on canvas of a young girl in red shoes, flowers in her apron with a goldfinch on her finger – a bird associated with Christ’s Passion and his crown of thorns – was bought by the vendor’s late father in 1962 for £300 from dealer Richard Green.

At Bamfords, it caught the attention of several bidders who battled it out beyond the £2000-3000 guide to £5600. The artist’s record stands at £45,000 for Portrait of Miss Mortimer as Hebe, one of the artist’s most celebrated compositions, which sold at Sotheby’s in November 1999.