Painter plaster bust of Nelson after Lawrence Gahagan – £9500 at Mallams.

Catalogued as a painter plaster bust of Admiral Lord Nelson after Lawrence Gahagan (1756-1820), it was offered with an oval miniature on bone of the hero and pitched at £150-250.

Born Lawrence Geoghan in Dublin, the sculptor changed his name when he moved to London in 1756 where his small bronze busts of celebrities gained a considerable reputation.

His bust of Nelson was produced soon after Trafalgar in 1805. The National Maritime Museum has a terracotta version, inscribed L Gahagan Sculptor London. The museum believes this may be the original from which the bronze was cast.

No bold claims were made for the bust at the Oxford rooms on January 29. The 21¼in (54cm) high work was indistinctly marked to the rear of the right shoulder L. Ghn and numbered 17(?)5.

Bidders appeared to think there was more to it. With two rivals on the phone and more online, it finally sold to a UK buyer at £9500.

Sitting comfortably

Epitomising a Library Sale was an 18th century Irish mahogany reading chair offered with a portrait of its original owner sitting in it.

The chair, with curved slatted back and leather upholstered saddle-shaped seat, featured a hinged adjustable reading stand to the back.

The 17 x 14in (44 x 37cm) portrait in original gilded frame depicted Francis Synge (1761-1831) of Glanmore Castle, Co Wicklow, an MP and, incidentally, great-grandfather of the playwright JM Synge.

The oil of him sitting in his library was attributed by Christie’s in 1935 to Maria Spilsbury (1776-1820), a popular London portrait painter (her patrons included the Prince Regent) with strong connections to Ireland where she spent much of her childhood and her last years.

Strong Irish interest in the lot, which had come by descent to the vendor, pushed bidding along but the chair and oil sold to a UK private buyer within estimate at £8200.