AN 18th century silver cup originally owned by an Oxfordshire artist could be sold for up to £20,000 at auction in America.

The 274-year-old cup, pictured, belonged to Oldfield Bowles, who once owned North Aston village near Bicester.

It became available after its most recent owner, American pianist Van Cliburn, died last February.

It will be auctioned at Christie’s at the Rockefeller Plaza in New York on March 5.

The cup was made by Paul De Lamerie, widely regarded as Britain’s greatest silversmith, in 1740.

It was given to Mr Bowles the year after he was born and has the inscription “the gift of Mrs Ann Mody to her godson Oldfield Bowles, January 1740”.

At North Aston the artist built a theatre and starred in his own amateur stage productions. He was also a friend and patron of leading artists Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, 53, the principal private secretary of Prince William and Prince Harry, is a direct descendant. He owns one of Mr Bowles’ paintings of his son-in-law Edward Golding.

He said: “It is fascinating for me as I am permanently trying to find out more of all that my father had stored in his head about our family.”

The cup was owned by Van Cliburn, who in 1958 won the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow.