The star lot of the sale was a piece by Richard Parker Bonington, which was in residence at 10 Downing Street for 10 years.

The work was consigned by Lady Ward's descendants who had the piece in their collection since the 1960s. It had been on loan to Downing Street from 1994 to 2003, then went on to the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 09.33.59 Richard Parker Bonington, A coastal landscape with fisherfolk, a beached boat beyond
Image via Christie's

The coastal scene had a pre sale estimate of £2-3 million. Three bidders fought it out on the phone, with the winning bid standing at £2.15 million, a record for a work by Bonington sold at auction as the previous record of £340 000 was set in 1987.

Including buyers' premium, the total for the sale was £19 million, with a 65% selling rate as 31 out of 48 lots found buyers.

Prior to the sale, six pieces from the Alfred Beit Foundation were withdrawn, which included two works by Peter Paul Rubens, with a combined estimate of £5.3-7.9 million.

The paintings were being sold to raise funds of €15 million for the upkeep of Co Wicklow's Russborough House. The Irish government, as well as heritage groups and even an  online petition stopped the works from leaving Ireland.

A shock of the night was the work by Bernardo Bellotto, which had an estimate of £8-12 million, failing to sell.

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