A piece of 'lost' artwork dating back to the 18th century has sold for more than £4,000 in a Dorset auction.

The picture by English painter Francis Towne reached £4,400 before the hammer came down at South Dorsetshire Auction in Wareham.

Entitled ‘Tivoli, an Evening Study’, the pencil, ink and watercolour work was painted by the artist on May 22, 1781, while he was staying in Rome on a ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe.

It had disappeared from public view after it was last sold in London for £6.0s.0d in 1936.

Auctioneer Mark Croucher said it had remained within the ownership of the same family since, and ‘represented a pretty good return on investment’ over the last 88 years.

He said: “Towne has grown in popularity over recent years, and this particular work was taken from one of his sketchbooks.

"While not as spectacular as some, the simplicity of his work has been an inspiration for some of the top artists of the 20th century.

“We are pleased to have achieved such a strong price for the vendor.

"Our on-line bidding system brings a worldwide audience to our rather unassuming salerooms in Wareham although in this instance the winning bidder was based on the English east coast.

“The sale price was in line with what could be expected from a major London saleroom, while our low commission rate means the vendor will receive the vast majority of the hammer price.”

The same sale also saw a 19th century French spherical clock on a cherub mount with matching garnitures exceed its estimate to reach £ 650, while a pair of Charles Augustus Lutyens oils of cherubs at play reached £440 – Lutyens was the father of the famous architect Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens.

South Dorsetshire Auctions hold antiques & collectables auctions every other Sunday, with the next on Sunday, February 11.