Warwick portrait sold for nearly £400,000

1st Earl of Warwick ahead of an auction at Sothebys
1st Earl of Warwick ahead of an auction at Sothebys

A portrait of the first Earl of Warwick has been sold at auction for £386.500.

The painting was part of a sale of Old Masters and British works of art at Sotheby’s in London last week.

An anonymous buyer bid far above the auctioneer’s estimate of between £150,000 and £250,000.

The painting, by French artist Jean-Marc Nattier, was started when the earl, Francis Greville, was aged 21, and still on his Grand Tour of Europe before returning to Warwick Castle in the 1740s.

It was after this he set about improving the castle and engaged Capability Brown to landscape the grounds.

The picture is believed to have been sold by the Greville family in the late 19th or early 20th century and has been in private hands ever since.

In the Sotheby’s catalogue the work was described as “an incredibly elegant portrait” of one of the most refined and cultured noblemen of his generation.

A significant patron of the arts, Lord Brooke, who became 1st Earl of Warwick, was the son of William Greville, the 7th Baron Brooke, and his wife Mary.

As part of his five year long Grand Tour, the young lord certainly visited Florence and Rome, collecting treasures along the way.

He visited Paris on the return leg which is when he must have sat for the French painter Nattier’s original sketches.

He is pictured seated at a harpischord, with a sheath of music in his hands.

Nattier signed the harpsichord to authenticate the work which Sotheby’s experts describe as “a masterpiece of Anglo-French art and an important vestage of the cultural sythesis that was the 18th century Grand Tour.”

Once owned by the Duke of Northumberland, the name of the picture’s new owner, or whether is will ever been seen in public again, remains a mystery.