Pastel portrait of a Singapore merchant by Percy Carpenter – £20,000 at Bellmans.

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Consigned from a deceased estate and entered with a £500-700 estimate at West Sussex saleroom Bellmans (22% buyer’s premium) on May 13, the signed 20 x 14in (52 x 36cm) pastel on paper work, dated April 1857, attracted multiple bids. It was knocked down to a buyer in Singapore for £20,000.

According to the Art Sales Index, Carpenter’s previous record was the £11,500 paid for a pencil and watercolour titled Singapore at Sotheby’s London in 1989.

The rarity of Carpenter’s works at auction (just over 20 results are listed by the index), together with a strong appetite from the Far East where he lived and worked, ensured competition on the day.

Livvy Duncton of Bellmans said the result showed there was “massive demand” for the artist’s work, “particularly from Singapore”.

Carpenter travelled in the Far East from 1851-58, producing and exhibiting his pictures in the National Museum of Singapore and later on the walls of the Royal Academy in London.

A year before he painted the portrait at Bellmans, Carpenter exhibited one of the most extensive views of mid-19th century Singapore, which was lithographed and published in London.