Chinese export oil showing a Qing emperor at court, $20,000 (£15,900) at Tremont Auctions.

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Commanding the sale’s highest estimate at $15,000-18,000, it took $20,000 (£15,900).

The early 19th century oil on canvas laid on board depicts an imperial audience given by the emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820).

Measuring 4ft x 2ft 10in (1.22m x 86cm) in its frame, it is thought to show the pavilions in the Old Summer Palace, the main imperial residence of the Qing emperors and the centre of state affairs.

The site was largely destroyed by French and British troops in the final act of the Second Opium War in October 1860).

Although relatively rare, the scene is well known. A body colour on linen version is housed in the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and was brought back to England in c.1800 by Richard Hill, a supercargo for the British East India Company.

It is pictured in the influential book Chinese Export Art in the Eighteenth Century by Margaret Jourdain and Soame Jenyns where it is attributed to the studio of Lam Qua (1801-60), the Chinese painter from Canton who specialised in Western-style portraits intended largely for export.

Tremont’s painting was last sold at Eldred’s in Massachusetts in 1971.

The sale also yielded the watercolour of the Falls of the Clyde by John Ward sold at a surprise $18,000 that featured in the News pages of ATG No 2643.