J.M.W. Turner painting fetches US$47.4 million at London auction

Sotheby's auction house employees pose for photographs with the J. M. W. Turner oil on canvas Rome, from Mount Aventine in London. (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)
Sotheby’s auction house employees pose for photographs with the J. M. W. Turner oil on canvas Rome, from Mount Aventine in London. (Matt Dunham/Associated Press)

LONDON–A major oil painting Rome, from Mount Aventine by J.M.W. Turner sold Wednesday for $47.4 million at Sotheby’s in London, the auction house said, breaking a previous record for the artist. The identity of the buyer was not announced.

“This painting, which is nearly 200 years old, looks today as if it has come straight from the easel of the artist,” said Alex Bell of Sotheby’s old master paintings department.

“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.”

The sale comes amid renewed interest in one of Britain’s greatest artists, sparked by an acclaimed film biopic. The sale is timely, coming shortly before the release of a film of Turner’s life by Mike Leigh which saw actor Timothy Spall win the best actor prize from the New York Film Critics Circle earlier this week. Spall was also named best actor at the Cannes film festival for his portrayal of the artist in Mr. Turner.

Described by auction house Sotheby’s as one of the greatest masterpieces of British art still in private hands, Turner’s 1835 work Rome, from Mount Aventine was estimated to sell for more than $36 million. The final sale price was almost more than 50 per cent more than the estimate.

Sources: CBC, CTV News

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