February 15, 2006

Turner watercolor set to break record

LONDON (Reuters) - An 1842 watercolor by JMW Turner could
well set a saleroom record when it goes under the hammer in
June, auctioneers Christie's said on Wednesday.

The Blue Rigi: Lake of Lucerne is expected to fetch more
than two million pounds ($3.47 million), putting it on target
to beat the current record for a Turner watercolor on paper of
2.04 million pounds set in 2001 by Heidelberg with a Rainbow.

It is also within striking distance of the world record for
a British work of art on paper of 2.6 million pounds set in
2000 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Pandora.

Christie's said it is the most important watercolor to
appear at auction for more than half a century.

Blue Rigi was one of four works Turner produced in 1842
after a visit to Switzerland.

Influential 19th century art critic John Ruskin said they
were the best watercolors the artist ever painted.

The work, which shows Rigi Mountain rising out of the mists
of Lake Lucerne, changed hands twice -- in 1863 and 1912 --
before ending up in 1942 in the family of the current owner.

It will be the leading item at Christie's British Art Week
sales between June 5 and June 9.