Turner painting of Rome sells for record £30.3 mln in London

3rd December 2014, Comments 0 comments

A large oil painting of Rome by JMW Turner fetched the highest price ever paid for a work by the British artist at an auction in London on Wednesday.

"Rome, from Mount Aventine", depicting the river of the Italian capital bathed in morning light, sold for £30.3 million ($47.4 million, 38.6 million euros) at the Sotheby's auction.

Four bidders competed for the 1835 painting, described by the auction house as one of Turner's "supreme achievements". 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."

It was the highest price paid for a pre-20th century work by a British artist and beat the previous record set for a Turner painting -- £29.7 million paid for "Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino" in 2010.

Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1836, the work was last sold in 1878, when it was bought from a friend and patron of Turner's by Archibald Primrose, later to become British prime minister.

The auction house said the sale "coincided with a wider moment of Turner mania".

A biopic about the painter by Mike Leigh was released in October, and netted star Timothy Spall the best actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal of the artist.

A major exhibition of the Romantic painter, famous for his English landscapes and paintings of Rome and Venice, opened at Tate Britain in September.

© 2014 AFP

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