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Risqué Old Master consigned to attic sells for £2.8 million

4 December 2008 No Comment

An anonymous bidder paid three times the estimate for Portrait of a Lady as Flora, by Italian Giambattista Tiepolo, at Christie’s in London.

The mid-18th century picture provocatively shows the woman’s exposed left breast.

Richard Knight, international director of Christie’s Old Master Department, described it as “one of the most exciting and extraordinary discoveries of recent years”.

He said it had been found in the attic of a French chateau “where it had been hidden by the grandparents of the present owners due to the semi-naked subject”.

He added “The painting has lain untouched in the same private collection for over 200 years, and as a result it remains breathtakingly similar to the way it would have been immediately after it left the artist’s easel.

“Private collectors are attracted to rare, rediscovered paintings offered in untouched condition.”

It is thought the painting was produced in the 1750s as part of a series commissioned by Empress Elizabeth of Russia.

There are several theories about who the model might have been, the most interesting being that she was a goldalier’s daughter called Christina that Tiepolo valued so highly that he took her with him along with his family when he moved to Spain.

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