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Among the highlights were two oil sketches on canvas by the Spanish master Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1618-82) which were offered as a single lot.

One depicted the Baptism of Christ which was almost certainly a preparatory work for his large 1667 altarpiece for the Chapel of San Antonio in the Cathedral of Seville – only minor changes were made for the finished work.

The other work shows St Peter receiving the keys and has the same dimensions of 14½ x 10¾in (37 x 27cm). It was also presumed to be a preparatory sketch, although no known finished work has been identified.

The works came to auction from a vendor whose great-uncle had bought them from London dealer Frank T Sabin in the 1950s. They had earlier provenance to General John Meade, who served as Consul General in Madrid from 1816-32, and were part of the sale of his notable collection at Christie’s auction in 1851. Here they were estimated at £60,000-80,000 and, after commanding decent interest, were knocked down on top estimate.

The sale total at Bonhams was £1.8m with 64% of the 239 lots sold.