Following its modern and contemporary sales, Sotheby’s is gearing up for the Classics auction week at the end of July. Slated to go up for sale alongside a $15 million Rembrandt self-portrait in the firm’s new cross-category London evening sale on July 28th is a recently restored portrait by Flemish old master, Peter Paul Rubens. The 17th-century painting carries an estimated value of £2.5-3.5 million ($3.2 to $4.4 million).
Rubens’s Portrait of a Lady, features a standing young woman—jewel-adorned with hands clasped together in black formal dress— against a landscape and red drape in a scheme typically meant to signify high status. The three-quarter length portrait was last exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1902, and is one of only several portraits of woman made by the artists to come to market in the last century. According to the work’s catalogue essay, though little is known about the Rubens’ sitter, it’s exhibition history at the Royal Academy in the early 20th Century points to the woman in the portrait being a relative of the painter.
The painting comes to the market from the holdings of collector Charles Butler’s descendants, after only recently being refurbished and attributed to Rubens. Butler acquired the work at Christie’s in 1878 from the collection sale of the work’s first owner— storied 19th century Old Masters collector, Hugh Munro of Novar, who was a prominent backer of British painter, J.M.W. Turner.