Rediscovered Flaming June study sold at Sotheby's
A highly rare study for one of the 19th century's most famous paintings has sold at Sotheby's, after being discovered hung on a bedroom wall.
The drawing by Frederic, Lord Leighton was made in 1895 for his most famous painting, Flaming June, and is the only-known head study made for the now-iconic Victorian artwork.
The work's existence was only known of through its appearance in an issue of the Magazine of Art, published in 1895. The drawing itself had remained hidden for more than a century, before being recently discovered in a bedroom at West Horsley Place, the stately Sussex former home of Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe.
"I discovered the drawing hanging behind the door in Lady Roxburghe's bedroom in West Horsley Place and immediately realised I was looking at the original of the drawing that is illustrated in the Magazine of Art from 1895," said Simon Toll, Victorian Art specialist at Sotheby's.
"This head study for the painting is the last piece of the jigsaw in terms of the preparatory work Leighton undertook before starting on the big oil painting. It was a thrilling find, one of the most heart-stopping moments of my career."
Having passed down through the family for three generations, the drawing finally found its way to the auction block and soared past its high estimate of £60,000 to sell for £167,000 to an American collector.
Another recently rediscovered work by Leighton also featured in the sale. Painted in 1879, Catarina – a portrait of an Italian girl with flowers in her hair – had remained in the same family since the 1930s and brought a price of £233,000, against a top estimate of £150,000.
In total the sale realized £4,667,625 ($7,306,700).
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