A LOST portrait of one of England's most influential poets fetched more than £50,000 when it was sold in Wotton-under-Edge.

The picture of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a leading figure in the Romantic Movement, went under the hammer at Wotton Auction Rooms on July 23 and was sold for £51,000.

The portrait was by an obscure artist called William Shuter who has little track record at auction but whose paintings usually sell for low to mid hundreds.

However, research showed that an engraving of Coleridge, in the National Portrait Gallery seemed to be based on the painting.

It also appeared to be a companion piece to a portrait of William Wordsworth, a close friend of Coleridge, and they are now thought to have been produced as a joint commission.

The inscription on the reverse of the portrait states that it was painted at Nether Stowey in Somerset, where Coleridge lived between 1797 and 1800.

It was here he completed some of his most notable work including The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan.

The portrait shows Coleridge holding a book titled Hartley. This refers to the poet's philosopher hero, David Hartley, but also is perhaps a reference to his eldest son, Hartley Coleridge.

The engraving of the portrait was used in an edition of Coleridge's collected works in 1852, but the whereabouts of the original painting had been a mystery until now.