Portrait of a noblewoman, said to be Helena de Sonzogni, by ‘follower of Frans Pourbus the Younger’ – £13,000 at Cheffins.

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The portrait, depicting the sitter in a white floral and gold decorated dress, tipped over top estimate to sell for £13,000 to a private London buyer via on December 7.

Cheffins director Nicolas Martineau described the painting as a “most attractive early 17th century portrait of a noble woman understood to be Helena de Sonzogni and thought to have been painted in Mantua by a follower of Frans Pourbus the Younger, court painter to the Gonzaga family”.

According to the inscription, the sitter married Giuseppe Malvezzi, a member of an ancient noble family from Verona.

“As always, good provenance is key, with this work having been acquired by the Wingfield family of Powerscourt House, County Wicklow, Ireland, in the mid-19th century where it hung until its sale in 1984”, Martineau added.

The 3ft 10in x 2ft 9in (1.17 x 84cm) oil on canvas was sold by Christie’s in 1984 catalogued as ‘Follower of Frans Pourbus’.

Also on offer were two Old Master portraits attributed to the 17th-century English painter Mary Beale (1633-99) depicting the ancestors of the Earls of Coventry and were kept at the now National Trust property, Croome Court in Worcestershire.

Consigned alongside a selection of Asian ceramics, furniture and collectables from Chillesford Lodge in Suffolk, they doubled their top estimates to fetch £3400 and £5500.

Thorburn watercolours


Wildfowl at Sea (1930) by Archibald Thorburn – £9000 at Cheffins.

Two Archibald Thorburn (1860-1935) watercolours sold from a small private collection of pictures depicting wildfowl, grouse, pheasants and other birds by the renowned ornithological painter.

The most commercial work, a 10½ x 14in (27 x 36.5cm) watercolour of wildfowl on the sea from 1930, tipped over top estimate to sell for £9000 to a private commission bidder based in Kent. It came with provenance to The Moorland Gallery in London where it had been acquired in 1974 by the vendor’s parents.

The other picture was a small 7 x 5in (18 x 13cm) study of a lapwing dated 1884 that was secured by a private buyer based in Cambridgeshire at £3800, nearly twice its top guide. By family tradition, it had been given by the artist to the vendor’s great-aunt in exchange for a pound of sugar.