Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Tuesday, 23 September 2008 16:08 UK

Constable sketch fetches 17,400

The Constable sketch
The sketch was sold to an anonymous private collector

A rare sketch which was found after gathering dust in a council office for years has sold for 17,400 at auction.

The 200-year-old John Constable sketch of Malvern Hall, Solihull, was found in the borough council offices after being untouched for more than a decade.

Solihull Council said the cash was needed to help it balance its books.

The sketch, which was previously bought by the council, was sold to an anonymous private collector at the Knightsbridge branch of Bonhams.

The sketch is part of a series of drawings of the hall which was the home of the local landowner Henry Greswolde Lewis.

'Pretty rare'

It is thought it was drawn in preparation for an oil painting of the home which now hangs in the Tate Britain gallery.

The auctioneers had predicted it would fetch 15,000 to 20,000.

Alexandra Ault, from Bonhams, said: "You just don't see Constable doing many architectural works.

"He's much more likely to sketch landscapes, so this is pretty rare. We don't see this sort of thing come along very often at all."

A spokeswoman for the council said it was having to sell the sketch as part of its 4m efficiency savings.

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