Newly Discovered Portrait by Velázquez Sells for £3 Million at Bonhams

Old Master Paintings
7 Dec 2011
London, New Bond Street

Newly Discovered Portrait by Velázquez Sells for £3 Million at Bonhams

Old Master Paintings
7 Dec 2011
London, New Bond Street

A Lost Masterpiece by Adriaen Coorte Sets a New World Record of £2.1 Million for the Dutch Artist

A previously unknown Portrait of a gentleman by the Spanish artist Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599-1660) sold for £3 million on Wednesday, 7th December 2011 in the Old Master Paintings auction at Bonhams, 101 New Bond Street, London. The sale total was £6,329,500.

Andrew Mckenzie, Director of Old Master Paintings at Bonhams, comments, "This is a portrait of outstanding quality which has the most extraordinary presence. To have worked so closely with it has been a wonderful experience and a highlight of my career."

In August 2010 a number of works by the nineteenth century British artist, Matthew Shepperson, were consigned for sale at Bonhams Oxford office. Among these works was a portrait of a gentleman, which was brought to the attention of the Old Master Paintings department in London who advised the Oxford saleroom to withdraw it from sale for further investigation.

The stylistic similarities to works by the great Spanish master led to extensive research by the department and consultant Brian Koetser; their views were confirmed by Dr Peter Cherry, Professor of Art History at the University of Dublin and one of the world's foremost authorities on Velázquez and his school. In an article published in the Spanish arts magazine ARS, Cherry writes "the particularised likeness and recognisably lifelike texture, weight and colours of the fleshy face speak of the actual encounter between subject and painter; while the style and technical brilliance of the representation itself betrays its author."

Many experts were consulted about the painting, and technical analysis and an x-radiograph further confirm the attribution to Velázquez.

A second lost masterpiece of considerable importance offered today was Three peaches on a stone ledge with a Painted Lady butterfly by the Dutch artist Adriaen Coorte, which sold for £2.1 million, setting a new world record price for the artist at auction and smashing the pre-sale estimate of £300,000-500,000. This previously unrecorded painting is an interesting addition to Coorte's oeuvre. It belongs to a group of still lifes, all undated, which are signed with initials only. Compositionally this group is very close to another recently discovered painting, of 1693, which allows a dating of 1693-95 for the Bonhams picture and the rest of the initialled group.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

  1. Andrew McKenzie
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8261
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7439

Related auctions