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
"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
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)
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