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Paintings recovered from West Acre High House a hit at auction

Portraits of some of Britain’s most historical figures recovered from the historic West Acre High House sold for £83,980 at auction last week.

The Birbeck family portrait collection included a portrait of Britain’s first prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole by Charles Jervas, which sold for £28,000.

Brett Tryner, of Cheffins Auctioneers, said: “This is an historically important selection of pictures and portraits from one of Britain’s greatest families.

“These pictures were fresh to the market and the prices paid today are reflective of their rarity.

“Pictures of some of our country’s most important historical figures, painted by some of the most preeminent artists of the time are always popular with a combination of private collectors and institutions.”

The private collection, then owned by Sir Anthony Gormley, hit the open market for the first time at a fine art and antiques sale held at Cheffin’s Auctioneers last Thursday.

The collection included works by some of the most prominent portrait painters of the 17th and 18th centuries, including the likes of Charles Jervas, Antoine-Francois Callet and Henry William Pickersgill.

Other highlights of the collection included a callet portrait of King Louis XVI of France by Antoine-Francois Callet which was acquired at The Stowe House Sale in 1848. The image was gifted by the exiled King ahead of the fall of Napoleon, and sold for £19,000.

Another highlight was a portrait of Viscountess Townshend of Raynham, Sir Robert Walpole’s sister, which made £4,400, the alleged ‘The Brown Lady’ of Raynham Hall, who supposedly haunts Houghton Hall and Sandringham House.

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