John Martin's Shipwreck painting makes record-breaking $80,500

Shipwreck, an atmospheric watercolour by English romantic artist John Martin (1789-1854), has sold for $80,500 at Freeman's Auctioneers - a new world record for a watercolour painting by the artist at auction.

John Martin watercolour world record
Martin’s Shipwreck was offered from a private American collection

The tempestuous tableau sold with a magnificent 5,267% increase on what proved to be an extremely conservative $1,500 top valuation.

Although influential art critic John Ruskin disputed the painter's talent, Martin was one of the most popular artists of his day, and a number of Martin's sumptuous, dramatic landscapes survive in public collections.

His works, however, seldom appear at auction, and have not previously sold for anywhere near the five-figure sum achieved on June 18.

In July 2012, a signed and dated watercolour by the artist sold for £938 ($1,465) at Sotheby's - not quite meeting its £1,000 low estimate.

Works by John Martin, it seems, are on the rise.

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