Bonhams' highly-anticipated Old Master Paintings auction is to feature a previously unknown portrait by Thomas Gainsborough on July 4.
Gainsborough was a leading portrait painter and favourite of King George III. He was also a founding member of London's Royal Academy, though he later fell out with the organisation over how paintings were hung in the gallery.
The newly-discovered portrait is one of the few Gainsborough works that has not already been recorded, after being passed down through the sitter's family for six generations since its creation. The auction will mark the first time the painting has appeared on the market.
Andrew McKenzie, director of Bonhams' old masters department, explains: "It is incredibly rare for an unknown painting by such a well-documented artist as Gainsborough to emerge on the open market and it is a truly exciting moment when a discovery like this is made."
In keeping with the trend of the time, it is thought that the painting was created to mark the sitter's new status, after she inherited her father's estate in 1765. It shows Catherine Warneford, heir to the fortune of successful London drug merchant Samuel Claverly.
The work is estimated at £20,000-30,000, though Paul Fraser Collectibles expects it to exceed this figure given its significance as a newly-discovered work and the popularity of its high-profile creator.
The sale will also feature a spectacular still life from Andries de Coninck, which is one of only four known signed works by the artist. One of two still lifes to be offered from a private Belgian collection, the piece is estimated at £200,000-300,000.
The Bonhams sale will coincide with further Old Masters sales from both Christie's and Sotheby's on July 3-4. The Christie's sale will be highlighted by John Constables' The Lock, which hopes to reclaim its title as the most valuable British artwork at auction.
Be sure to check back with Paul Fraser Collectibles to see the latest results from these exciting auctions.
You can view our art investment portfolio here.