Among a series of records for British watercolours posted during Sotheby's sale entitled An Exceptional Eye: A Private British Collection on July 14, the most spectacular price was the £2.1m bid for this striking view of the Lake of Albano and Castel Gandolfo by John Robert Cozens (1752-1797).
The 17in x 2ft 1in (43 x 62cm) watercolour over pencil was
described by the auctioneers as "exceptional in every sense" and,
against a £500,000-700,000 estimate, it duly attracted interest
from a number of key players in the market.
The buyer was the Canadian billionaire businessman and collector
Baron David Thomson of Fleet, a patron of the Art Gallery of
Ontario, who saw off interest from the London dealer Guy
The vendor - identified within the trade as controversial
fertility treatment doctor Professor Ian Craft - had purchased the
atmospheric work at Sotheby's in November 1991 for £178,000.
The price here represented not just a significant return on
investment but also a dramatic new high for Cozens, easily
surpassing the artist's previous record of £240,000 for Cetara,
Gulf of Salerno, Italy at Christie's in November 2004.