An 18th century portrait of British boxer George "The Coachman" Stevenson crossed the auction block at Bonhams, London, on January 29.
The 61 x 43 cm oil on canvas brought £12,500 ($19,700), within its presale valuation of £10,000-15,000.
The pugilistic painting, which depicts the (ill-fated) Coachman in fighter's pose, was described by Bonhams' Alistair Laird as "a very rare image" before the sale. The 19th century paintings specialist commented: "I have never seen an 18th century painting to do with boxing in my 30 years in art auctions."
Having fought the English champion Jack Broughton for 45 minutes in a fairground booth on London's Tottenham Court Road, Stevenson died of the injuries he had suffered during the bout soon after.
The unforeseen event inspired Broughton to draw up a list of rules in order to prevent further tragedies. Published in 1743, two years after Stevenson's death, Broughton's Rules, as they came to be called, were universally adhered to by mainstream fighters until 1883.
The painting offers us rare insight into the life of a man whose death transformed British boxing for the better.
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