A recently rediscovered masterpiece by influential landscape artist Claude Lorrain has sold at the top of Christie's Old Masters & British Paintings Evening Sale, setting a new world record for the artist.
The sale took place on December 3 in London, offering a prime selection of pieces. Lorrain's work, not unrecorded but unavailable to scholars since the late 19th century, sold for £5m ($8.2m) to become the highest valued example of the artist's work.
Entitled A Mediterranean port at sunrise with the Embarkation of Saint Paula for Jerusalem, the piece was exhibited at the Royal Academy in the early 20th century and has not been seen by the public since then.
Commissioned by Cardinal Domenic Cecchini in the 17th century, it was eventually acquired by English retailer and collector WH Smith, and has been in the Smith collection at Hambledon Manor ever since.
Various copies have been brought forward for examination as the original composition, though this is the authentic autograph version.
The market for works by Frenchman Lorrain (1600-1682) is strong, as demonstrated in Christie's January auction of Old Master and Early British Drawings, which saw a pen and ink landscape sell for $6.1m - a 666.3% increase on its $800,000 high estimate.
In total, the present auction realised £21.8m, with 10 artist records set. The second highest bids of the sale were seen by Rembrandt's Man with a Sword, 1644, which made £2.5m ($4.1m).
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