THE Whitchurch auctioneers owned by TV star Christina Trevanion has smashed its own in-house record sale after the sale of a rare 17th century painting for more than £250,000.

The double portrait of a white and black woman with patches of make-up on was dated to around 1650, during the reign of Oliver Cromwell, commonly known as 'puritanical times'.

Christina said the painting created a wealth of pre-sale interest and explained why it has proved to be so popular, and expensive.

She said: "The painting, a double portrait dating to around 1650 was fascinating for a multitude of reasons.

"Firstly, it depicted a black woman sat alongside, and not subservient to a white woman, and secondly because each sitter had 'patches' upon their faces.

"We have to put this painting into the context of when it was created, we need to take ourselves back to 1650's England when we were under the rule of Cromwell's Puritanical Government.

"Face patches have been used since ancient times for purely practical purposes to cover up scars and blemishes.

"However, in the mid-17th century some men were outraged by the way women dressed and wore make up.

"In 1650 parliament debated whether to pass an act against 'The vice of painting and wearing black patches, and immodest dress of women'.

"The bill did not make it to law but had some popular support.

"The implication was that a 'patched woman' had something to hide, which may have been as innocent as a birthmark or small-pox scar, but she could also be hiding something much more sinister, perhaps a syphilis scar or other sexually transmitted diseases.

"The association of patches with sexual immorality, deceit and aristocratic affectation was everything Cromwell and his Puritan government sought to outlaw."

After much pre-sale publicity, Trevanion's saw interest in the painting from across the globe, from private buyers in America to the UK, with the international fine art market elite fighting to have the opportunity to acquire the historic portrait.

After an intense bidding battle lead by auctioneer Ashley Jones, between telephone bidders the panting finally sold to a UK bidder for an astonishing £220,000, with the 20 per cent buyers premium increasing that figure.

"For all UK business owners the last 15 months have proved incredibly challenging, responding to an ever-changing global crisis, and it has been wonderful to get back to our role of doing what we do best," added Christina.

"One of our valued clients said the sale of this painting puts Trevanion Auctioneers in the upper echelons of UK auctioneers.

"I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved here and I look forward to seeing where we go in the next year."

Trevanion Auctioneers are currently welcoming entries for their next auction which will be held on July 28.