A rare late 18th century painting of two leopards frolicking in a landscape is offered by London dealer Daniel Hunt Fine Art.
The artist is James Northcote RA (1746-1831), a painter and writer who was a pupil of Joshua Reynolds. As well as producing portraits like his tutor, he also executed some notable works depicting exotic animals.
It is likely that he studied the animals at the Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London. The species has been identified by zoological expert Dr Jonathan Scott as Sunda Clouded Leopards from Indochina, on account of the clouded pattern on their flanks, the exceptionally large gape of their mouths (almost 90 degrees) and by their elongated canine teeth (the longest of any living felid).
Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1797, this 2ft 7in x 3 ft (79 x 90cm) oil on canvas, Two Leopards at Play from the Royal Menagerie, was made into a mezzotint engraving on copper by Samuel Reynolds the following year.
It is priced in the region of £65,000.