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'Ida Reading a Letter' by Vilhelm Hammershøi which sold for a record £1.5m at Sotheby’s.

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The five works sold for a combined £3.69m on June 11, topped by Ida Reading a Letter, shown here, which sold for a record £1.5m (plus 25/20/12% buyer's premium) to an international private collector, more than double the £500,000-700,000 estimate.

A typical still interior scene in a muted palette, the 2ft 2in x 23in (66 x 59cm) oil on canvas from 1899 depicts the artist's wife and was among the first works painted by Hammershøi in Strandgade 30, his home in Copenhagen from 1898 to 1909, which was the subject of many of his interior scenes.

Ida Reading a Letter was consigned from a private collection and its market freshness contributed to the competition between three telephone bidders.

It tripled the previous auction record for Hammershøi, established at Sotheby's in 2006 forInterieur med Staffeli, Bredgade 25 (Interior with easel, Bredgade 25), c.1910, which sold for a premium-inclusive £590,400.

Nina Wedell-Wedellsborg, head of Sotheby's Denmark, said: "This was the perfect storm of five top-quality works from different collections supported by a wide spread of international bidders to achieve utterly exceptional prices.

"All five paintings by Hammershøi sold at Sotheby's today were completely fresh to the market and in excellent condition. They worked well as a group, with each distinctive motif - the artist's wife, a candlelit interior and a cityscape - so representative of Hammershøi."

Bidders came from Asia, America, Scandinavia and Central Europe.

The four other Hammershøi works sold in the sale were Interior with Two Candles  (£950,000), Ida in an Interior  (£560,000), Ida Standing at a Desk  (£380,000) and Strandgade with Christians Kirke in the background  (£300,000).