Gloucestershire

'Lost' Samuel Taylor Coleridge portrait sold for £51,000

The portrait Image copyright Wotton Auction Rooms
Image caption The picture has been sold at auction for £51,000

A portrait of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once feared lost has been sold at auction for £51,000.

The whereabouts of the oil painting remained unknown for years until an anonymous seller presented it for sale.

It was only known to exist because an engraved version was held at the National Portrait Gallery.

Attributed to artist William Shuter, it had been estimated to fetch between £500 and £1,000 at Wotton Auction Rooms in Gloucestershire.

The portrait, measuring 28 cm by 24.5 cm and set in a gilt frame, depicts the 18th-century Romantic author - who was famed for his opium intake - at a young age.

An inscription on the back, dated 1873, suggests it was painted at Nether Stowey, Somerset, where Coleridge rented a cottage between 1797 and 1800.

He is said to have lived there when he penned some of his best-known poems, including the Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Kahn.

Image copyright Wotton Auction Rooms
Image caption An inscription on the back of the portrait dates it to 1873

He was a close friend of fellow Romantic poet William Wordsworth, who lived nearby.

Auction house cataloguer Julia Fry said she identified the painting because it was very similar to an existing portrait of Wordsworth.

"It's a lovely portrait. It was nice to see Coleridge in a young state, before the opium kicked in," she said.

She said the painting had been sold by a local family who had owned it for many years, but had not realised its significance.

The picture was bought by an anonymous bidder from the UK, who will pay £62,000 for it including the buyer's premium.

Image copyright Wotton Auction Rooms
Image caption The portrait has not been removed from its gilt frame, in order to limit possible damage

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