Mini Mozart painting to see big bids at Sotheby's auction

One of just two paintings of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in private ownership is coming to auction for the first time, having been commissioned by the artist for his love more than 230 years ago.

Mozart miniature portrait.
Mozart gave the portrait to his lover, and recieved one in return

The 1777 portrait is being offered by Sotheby's on November 20 in London, having remained with the composer's family since its creation. It is now expected to sell for up to £300,000 ($483,180) as the highlight of the Music, Rare Books and Manuscripts auction.

The portrait measures just 4cm tall, perfectly sized for the locket of his first love and cousin Maria Anna Thekla Mozart. He received one of her in return.

"One of only two authentic paintings of Mozart remaining in private hands and one of only a dozen or so authentic paintings and drawings of the composer, this object's significance is virtually unparalleled," said Dr Stephen Roe, Sotheby's worldwide head of books and manuscripts.

"What is particularly exciting is that the portrait has never been reproduced in colour in the standard Mozart literature, and it is only now that the miniature's special qualities can be more widely appreciated.

"The artist, though unknown, has caught the essence of the composer."

Much of the relationship between Mozart and his cousin is known from a series of letters between the pair from October 31, 1777 and October 23, 1781, before which the pair had been reunited during a two-week stay with his uncle in Augsburg.

However, Mozart then fell in love with Aloysia Weber, a German soprano, before being shunned and marrying her sister, Constanz.

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