A COLLECTION of tiny artworks amassed by a woman from York is set to fetch thousands of pounds at auction.

The miniatures, which would fit in to a small shopping bag and were chosen by a private York collector, are attracting international attention ahead of an auction at Dugglebys in Scarborough on Saturday (March 26).

The dozen pictures are exquisite little portraits of the rich and famous of the Georgian period, painted by some of the most extravagantly talented miniaturists of the age, artists who counted aristocrats and Royals amongst their clientele.

Dannielle Blackledge, a member of the David Duggleby collectables team, said: “It is an absolutely astonishing collection that took a lady from the York area, literally decades to bring together.

“Half the miniatures that will be going under the hammer were painted by artists who were Royal favourites.

"And one is the work of an artist who was the go-to chap for anyone at the court of Napoleon who wanted the early 19th century equivalent of a selfie.”

The star of the show is expected to be a portrait depicting the famous 17th century beauty Carey, Countess of Peterborough, painted by the Swedish-born artist Christian Richter (1678-1732). The countess was a royal maid of honour and one of the ‘Hampton Court Beauties’, the most glamorous and fashionable ladies of the court of William III.

That miniature was once part of the collection of Charles Edward Lees, a wealthy 19th century industrialist and collector who paid £20 for it in 1883.

Dannielle said: “We’re expecting her to make a bit more than that on Saturday – somewhere between £4,000 and £8,000.”

Another portrait that has been attracting particular interest ahead of the auction is that of a young David Murray, the Second Earl of Mansfield, painted by George Engleheart, one of the great miniaturists of the late Georgian period. Engleheart was appointed Miniature Painter to George III, producing at least 25 portraits of the king, as well as others of various members of the royal family. His Murray portrait is expected to make £3,000-£5,000.

Dannielle said: “Taking fine quality painting and good condition as a given, the factors that influence the collector appeal of a miniature are the name of the artist and the identity of the sitter. Lack one of those and value can decline quite dramatically.”

“That said we have one portrait of an unknown young woman by Royal Favourite Christian Friedrich Zincke that is expected to make £3,000-£5,000. She may be anonymous but her portrait case has a border of diamonds.”

The collection is to be auctioned in The Country House Sale on Saturday. The catalogue is available on the firm’s website (davidduggleby.com). Viewing is taking place at the Vine Street Saleroom in Scarborough each day this week (10am-4.30pm) and on Saturday morning from 9am until the start of the auction at 11am. The auction is to be webcast with online bidding through DD Live and thesaleroom.com.