Sotheby’s £1.8m Irish art sale, part of a revived category for the auction house, had enough successes to rekindle interest in what might prove a valuable cranny of the global art market:

65 per cent of the lots sold with many artists achieving record prices while one Sir John Lavery painting sold for four times its estimate. The Cello Player far exceeded its top estimate of £20,000-£30,000 when it went to a private collector for £112,500.

The top price achieved was for Gerard Dillon’s painting Mending Nets, Aran, which went to an American buyer for £191,000, significantly over its £150,000 estimate. It had been sold for £80,000 at Adam’s in Dublin six years ago.

Charlie Minter, head of Irish art at Sotheby’s, said: “This year’s sale made £1.8 million, over the low estimate and building upon the success of last year’s sale. There were notable prices achieved for leading Irish artists – the likes of Henry, O’Connor, Lavery, Dillon and Swanzy – and it was exciting to see contemporary artists again performing well.”