Sotheby's has announced that it will offer one of the most internationally recognisable images of the 19th century, Dante Gabriel Rossetti's magnificent Proserpine, on November 19 in London.
The work is hailed as the defining image of the pre-Raphaelite art movement and has been given a £1.2m-1.8m ($1.8m-2.7m) estimate as testament to its quality.
The piece was begun in 1878, yet clearly occupied Rossetti's attentions for some time, as it was not dated until 1880.
Rossetti himself considered the image of Proserpine, or Persephone, to be the most beautiful of all his works, and it is the painting in which he included his most allegorical symbolism.
The artist was so enamoured with the composition and its subject, Jane Morris - wife of William Morris - that he produced various versions, with this example produced in coloured chalks and having not been seen at auction for more than 40 years.
It was originally purchased by William Graham, an MP for Glasgow, who was one of Rossetti's biggest patrons and owned 37 of his works.
"Dante Gabriel Rossetti's haunting image of Proserpine is one of the defining images of European art - instantly recognisable and representing the artist at the zenith of his originality," commented Sotheby's British and Irish art specialist Simon Toll.
"In many ways it stands apart from much of the art created by Rossetti's contemporaries, as something new and otherworldly that was unlike anything else that had been seen before it. This is one of the most important British pictures to be seen on the auction market in many years, having only been in three collections since it was created in 1880."
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