Watercolour of a racehorse auction by Thomas Rowlandson, sold at Chorley's sale for £22,000.

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The 11 x 17in (28 x 44cm) work was painted by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) during the high point of his career in the 1780s when he had cemented his reputation for brilliant and often cutting images of contemporary life.

This painting was consigned in 1896 from the collection of the Earls of Warwick to Christie’s where, catalogued simply as ‘An Auction Sale of Horses’, it was secured by the vendor’s ancestor HW Bruton.

The Bruton family identified the picture as the original Grosvenor Place venue in London of Tattersalls, the venerable racehorse auction house headquartered today at Newmarket. The firm moved from Grosvenor Place in 1867, a century after it was founded by Richard Tattersalls.

Given an estimate of £3000-5000 at this latest sale, it drew interest from private and trade bidders before eventually selling at £22,000.

Simon Chorley, Chorley’s director and auctioneer, said: “Such history, provenance and artistry led to much interest from private collectors, sporting bodies and art dealers. The picture found a new buyer on the phone from the London trade, underbid by a keen private collector.”