George Stubbs' Tygers at Play sold to an Asian collector for £7.6m ($13.1m) in Sotheby's Old Master and British Paintings Evening Sale in London last night - an increase of 31% on a £6m ($10.2m) estimate.
Stubbs (1724-1806) is best known for his horse paintings, which were enormously popular during his own lifetime. In addition, he painted a series of exotic animals (of varied accuracy).
Sotheby's commented prior to the sale: "Demand for the enduring appeal of Stubbs's exotic animal portraits remains as high as it was during the artist's lifetime…
"Rarely, if ever, do works of this quality, importance and rarity appear on the open market for auction."
The sale set a new record for an old masters auction at Sotheby's London, achieving total sales of £68.3m ($117.1m) - just beating the 2002 figure of £67.6m.
Alex Bell, joint international head and co-chairman of Sotheby's old master paintings department, commented: "With 17 auction records and unprecedented international participation, we saw the market at its best.
"The prestigious aristocratic and private collections that constituted the core of tonight's sale were the secret of this success."
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