'Vera Cruz, and Castle of San Juan D’Ulloa' by Daniel Egerton, which sold for £280,000 at Bonhams.

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In the same family for over 120 years, Vera Cruz, and Castle of San Juan D’Ulloa was estimated at £200,000-300,000 at the February 7 auction.

Bonhams’ senior specialist, Rhyanon Demery, said: “This was a beautiful painting by an artist whose work rarely appears at auction.

“Completely fresh to the market, it had wide appeal and I am not surprised that it was so keenly fought over.”

The 2ft 5in x 3ft 3in (74 x 99cm) oil depicts what was the principal port of the Gulf of Mexico together with the fortress built on a nearby island by the Spanish in the 17th century. The castle remained the last Spanish stronghold after Mexico’s independence in 1821 until it finally surrendered in 1825.

A lithograph of the same image appears in Egerton’s Views in Mexico, a volume of 12 coloured plates where the artist gives a detailed description of the scene depicted.

This meant that the work at Bonhams was one of the few surviving topographical paintings by the artist where the location was fully identified.

Egerton lived a short but turbulent life. He had abandoned his wife and family in 1840 before settling in Mexico with the teenage daughter of a fellow artist. It was here where he was mysteriously murdered two years later, possibly in an argument over a property deal.

The buyer’s premium at Bonhams was 25/20/12.5%.