A mysterious portrait of English actor Henry Irving is going up for auction later this month.
The painting, a direct copy of a portrait of Irving by French artist Jules Bastien-Lepage, has no signature linking it to a known artist, or any paperwork to confirm an attribution.
The sale on October 16 is being handled by auction house Dreweatts.
Lucy Gregory, a picture specialist at the auction house, said: “The particularly notable appeal this picture has is that, despite it being a copy, it is obviously something that was important to the Irving family, having been kept in their collection for more than 60 years.”
She added: “Coupled with the mystery surrounding who could have painted the work and the provenance that we already have, it offers an exciting historical context to the work, which still relates directly to Henry Irving himself.”
Irving was the first actor to receive a knighthood in 1895, after establishing a career on stage and in the theatre industry, including running the Lyceum in London.
It is speculated the portrait could be the work of William Nicholson, or one of his tutees, Winston Churchill.