Turner's Rome from Mount Aventine sets $47.4m auction record

One of the last and finest masterpieces by JMW Turner in private hands, Rome, from Mount Aventine, has set a new auction record for the artist.

The work still retains hairs from Turner's brush and his fingerprint

Selling at Sotheby's on December 3 in London, the magnificent landscape saw competition from four buyers before it sold for £30.3m ($47.4m) - it was estimated at £15m-20m.

The work is also now the most valuable piece by a pre-20th century British artist.

There are less than 10 Turner works in private hands, with Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino setting the previous record for his work at £29.7m ($46.5m) at Sotheby's in 2010.

Renewed interest in Turner's work, spurred by a major exhibition at the Tate Britain and Mike Leigh's new film, Mr Turner, meant Sotheby's and the art buying world had long expected the record to be broken by the present lot.

It was painted in 1835 when the artist was 61 and reaching the pinnacle of his artistic output. It was displayed at the Royal Academy and in 1878 was bought by the fifth Earl of Rosebery.

Thanks to its home in the renowned Rosebery collection, the work remains in superb condition and is among the best preserved of Turner's paintings.

Sotheby's Alex Bell commented: "It is hard to overstate the importance of Rome, from Mount Aventine. There are no more than half a dozen major works by Turner left in private hands and this work must rank as one of the very finest.

"This painting, which is nearly 200 years old, looks today as if it has come straight from the easel of the artist; never relined and never subject to restoration, the picture retains the freshness of the moment it was painted: the hairs from Turner's brush, his fingerprint, the drips of liquid paint which have run down the edge of the canvas, and every scrape of his palette knife have been preserved in incredible detail."

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