A J.M.W. Turner painting, "Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino" sold at auction on Wednesday for $45.1 million, setting a new record for the artist. At Sotheby's London six bidders pursued the painting driving the price well above pre-sale expectations. The price beat the old record set in April 2006 at Christie's in New York when an 1841 view of Venice, "Giudecca, La Donna della Salute and San Giorgio," sold for $35.9 million.
"Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino" was painted in 1839 and is his final painting of Rome, a culmination of all of the studies that he made during his two visits to the Italian capital. Before Wednesday's sale, the painting had only appeared on the open market once in the 171 years since it was painted. It was offered for sale by a descendant of the 5th Earl of Rosebery; the 5th Earl of Rosebery had bought the painting in 1878, while on honeymoon with his wife Hannah Rothschild. The painting was most recently displayed at the National Gallery of Scotland where it was on long-term loan. It will continue to have a museum life, the new owner is the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
The painting was the top-selling lot in Sotheby's summer Evening Sale of Old Master & British Paintings, which had a total of £53,484,350 (pre-sale expectations were £33.8-49.6 million).