Clive Forster-Cooper was Director of the Natural History Museum at the time Meredith Frampton painted him in 1945, and by then had shown an extraordinary dedication to his vocation, sleeping in his museum office throughout WW2 in the hope of protecting his fossils.
His personal collections included large amounts of material which partially founded the fossil vertebrates collections of Cambridge University Museum of Zoology.
The painting shows the slightly hunched Forster-Cooper working with models of skulls and jaws, and of the cheek teeth of various Mesozoic mammals.
The book in front of him is Vol. II of Parker and Haswell Text Book of Zoology, in an edition revised by him, open at a page depicting the skulls of the reptiles from which mammals evolved.
Given a guide price of £5,000-7,000, fascinated bidders rapidly flung bids back and forth, ratcheted the price all the way up to an impressive £79,200.
Despite living to 1984, this is the last art work which Frampton is known to have produced, which seems a great shame given the skill with which details in the scene (string, sealing wax, faint forehead wrinkles and objects in the darkened corner of the room) are captured.