Record Set for J.M.W. Turner Painting

'Rome, from Mount Aventine' by J.M.W. Turner, 1835, brought an artist auction record of $47.4 million at Sotheby's London on Dec. 3, 2014.

J. M. W. Turner now ranks as the most expensive of any pre-20th century British artist. That’s after one of the last great Turner masterpieces remaining in private hands set a world auction record for the artist, selling for $47.4 million at Sotheby’s London recently. Four bidders competed for Rome, from Mount Aventine, driving the work high above its pre-sale estimate.

Painted in 1835 and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1836, when Turner was 61 years old, Rome, from Mount Aventine is one of the artist’s supreme achievements and arguably the most important view of the Italian city ever painted. The large-scale oil painting is further distinguished by its exceptional state of preservation, as well as a prestigious and unbroken provenance. Until this evening’s sale, the work had changed hands only once in 1878, when it was acquired by the 5th Earl of Rosebery, later Prime Minister of Great Britain. The painting had since remained undisturbed in the Rosebery collection.

The sale coincided with a wider moment of Turner mania, with the groundbreaking exhibition of Late Turner at the Tate and Mike Leigh’s new film Mr Turner.

Image: Press Photo

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