Turner's Rome masterpiece to go under the hammer

Send a link to a friend  Share

[December 01, 2014]  LONDON (Reuters) - A major oil painting by J.M.W. Turner goes on sale in London next week amid renewed interest in one of Britain's greatest artists, sparked by an acclaimed film biopic.

Described by auction house Sotheby's as one of the greatest masterpieces of British art still in private hands, Turner's 1835 work "Rome, from Mount Aventine" is estimated to sell for 15-20 million pounds ($23.5 to 31.3 million) when it goes under the hammer on Wednesday.

"There are fewer than 10 major Turners in private hands known today and this work must rank as one of the very finest," said Alex Bell, Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department.

"The picture is so well preserved that every fingerprint of the artist, every flick of his brush, every scrape of his palette knife can still be clearly seen."

Turner overturned 19th century conventions, challenging the boundaries of realism and abstraction with a boldness that foreshadowed Impressionists such as Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro.

The sale is timely, coming shortly after the release of a film of Turner's life by Mike Leigh which saw actor Timothy Spall win the best actor prize at the Cannes film festival for his portrayal of the artist. An exhibition of his later works is currently on show at London's Tate gallery.

The painting has only changed hands once before, when it was bought in 1878 by Archibald Primrose, the Earl of Rosebery, who later became British prime minister.

Its sister painting, "Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino", sold for 29.7 million pounds in 2010, a record for the artist, when it was bought by the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, far eclipsing its pre-sale expectations of 12-18 million pounds.

Also among the works in the sale on Wednesday is Canaletto's "Glorious View of Venice", which has not been seen in public since 1857 and has an estimated price of 5-7 million pounds.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

< Top Stories index

Back to top