Miniature watercolour could net £6,000 in sale

WILLIAM EGLEY (BRITISH, 1798-1870) ''A double portrait of two daughters of Richard Fellowes Benyon (1811-1897), seated in a woodland landscape with a basket of flowers, both in white dresses, the younger girl with a pink sash, the elder with a blue sash

WILLIAM EGLEY (BRITISH, 1798-1870) ''A double portrait of two daughters of Richard Fellowes Benyon (1811-1897), seated in a woodland landscape with a basket of flowers, both in white dresses, the younger girl with a pink sash, the elder with a blue sash

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At JUST five inches by six it’s not much bigger than a CD case - but this tiny 150-year-old watercolour painting on ivory by South Yorkshire artist William Egley is now set to fetch up to £6,000 at auction.

The portrait miniature, of sisters Marion and Edith Benyon, was painted in October 1864 when Egley was in his mid sixties.

Now the miniature, which is in an eye-catching frame with pierced surround, is expected to sell for between £4,000 and £6,000 at Christie’s in London tomorrow.

William Egley was born in Doncaster in 1798 and was self-taught. He worked in Doncaster, Nottingham and London, where he acquired an aristocratic clientele.

He also exhibited at the Royal Academy in London. Now some of his miniatures are owned by the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Last year at Christie’s Princess Diana’s brother, Earl Spencer, sold an Egley miniature for £2,750. At Bonhams in 1998, another Egley miniature sold for £100,000, setting a new world auction record for his work.

Marion Benyon - the older fair-haired girl in tomorrow’s auction lot - was the paternal great-grandmother of Richard Benyon, a junior Environment minister and Conservative MP for Newbury.

William Egley died in 1870, six years after producing his Benyon sisters miniature. His son, William Maw Egley, was also an artist.