It seemed very appropriate that a painting by an artist named Valentine was one of the top selling lots at Trevanion and Dean’s pre-Feburary 14 day auction last Saturday.

The oil on board painting by Victorian artist Valentine Thomas Garland was put up for auction by a Shrewsbury vendor and depicted two wistful looking Jack Russell Terriers.

Despite its small size and unusual subject matter, the painting was one of the most hotly-contested lots in the auction and for Christina Trevanion, partner at the firm of auctioneers, says the artist was well known for his canine paintings.

"Garland was a painter of animals who lived in Winchester and London, he exhibited 24 works at the Royal Academy from 1868 and became one of the most popular artists of the period," she said.

"He worked in both watercolour and oils and was known especially for his paintings of dogs, which are instantly captivating, and have a gentle warmth to them that make them particularly appealing."

It is said the British are a nation of dog lovers and the bidders at Trevanion and Dean certainly felt the same as the picture quickly eclipsed its pre-sale estimate as buyers both in the room, on the telephone and from around the world bid online to secure the painting.

It finally sold to a telephone bidder for £1,700, one of the highest prices every paid for a Valentine Thomas Garland at auction.

Eager romantics also snapped up many others of the 780 auction lots which will be squirrelled away and presented to their loved ones on Thursday morning, with a collection of as-new designer wares including Louis Vuitton bags, Tiffany & Co jewellery, Gucci bags and Chanel shoes selling incredibly well.

The auctioneers also reported very strong prices achieved in the silver, jewellery and watches sections, where a Rolex Oyster Perpetual sold for £2,500 and a Rolex Air King sold for £1,380, despite being in tired condition.

The furniture section of the auction also yielded strong prices as a great fun ‘Test Your Strength’ machine sold for £1,600 and a large Victorian mahogany bookcase sold for £1,000.