Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 16.07.55 Sir William Orpen's portrait of Gertrude, Countess of Dudley

Sir William Orpen's portrait of Gertrude, Countess of Dudley holds an estimate of £30,000-40,000. Not only does is it an exciting piece, this painting has a story to tell.

Just before the First World War Gertude's antics threatened to throw the finest of British Society into disrepute and it was even suspected King George V and Queen Mary had to intervene in order to prevent the scandal.

Gertie Millar, born 1879 in Bradford, began her career on the stage at 13 at the St James's Theatre in Manchester. She moved to London and later in 1897 she became a firm favourite on the stage. Gertie married Lionel Monckton in 1902, an admired composer of musical comedies, who also wrote a many of Gertude's hit songs. However, all was not well in their marriage. Gertie was rumoured to have had an affair with the Duke of Westminster, which even lead to both wanting to divorce their partners in order to marry each other. Monckton would not divorce Millar and George V and Queen Mary  intervened in order to prevent the scandal of the Duke of Westminster from divorcing his wife.

Following her husband's death in 1924, Millar married the Earl of Dudley, William Humble Ward (1867-1932), who succeeded to the earldom in 1885. The family had a vast wealth from mines and ironworks. The couple spent most of their married life in Le Touquet, where P.G. Wodehouse was a neighbour and friend.

Gertie Millar was one of the best-loved stars and most photographed women of the Edwardian era, and from her humble Yorkshire beginnings she became Lady Dudley. The Countess of Dudley died at her home in Chiddingfold in 1952 aged 73. She left an estate valued at £52,354.
In 2012 the National Portrait Gallery held an exhibition entitled: Gertie Millar, Countess of Dudley: From Stage to Society and the gallery has an extensive collection of photographs of her.

Sworders' MD, Guy Schooling, said: "As well as being an intriguing picture of one of the most fascinating and photographed women of the age, it is a fine portrait by one of the most talented artists ever to come out of Ireland – and this is a rare opportunity to acquire such a work."

As if the Royal scandal was not enough, here are Barnebys star lots of the sale.

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French artist Henri Jean Guillaume Martin is a main feature of the sale. Included will be his piece Saint-Cirq-Lapopie which carries an estimate of £80,000-£100,000. It holds an impressive provenance as it was sold in Sotheby's, New York on 12th November 1988 for $137,500.

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Thomas Hudson's £8000-£12,000 Portrait of Mary, Daughter of Sir William Browne, Wife of William FFolkes, Three-Quarter Seated, in a Silver Dress with Lace Collar and Sleeves and White Lace Bonnet, signed, will be going under the gavel for an estimate of £8000-£12,000. The piece is signed and was later inscribed 'Mary Dr & heiress of Sir Wm Browne, 2d. Wife of W Folkes Esq ob.1773 aet.52' u.r.

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An extraordinary Black Forest carved walnut centre table with an estimate of £3000-£5000. This piece is one of four lots of Black Forest carvings present in the sale.
It is a late 19th century, signed, possibly with 'M.. Eugiane', the circular top carved in low relief with a central panel of chamois in a forest landscape within a broad border of fruiting vines and birds, over a frieze carved with busts in high relief, the triform base boldly carved as a tree trunk with forest animals and figures.

Check out the rest of the sale here.