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Archive for Sunday, January 22, 2006

1st president’s portrait sells for $21.3 million

January 22, 2006

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— Charles Willson Peale's full-length portrait of George Washington on the American Revolutionary War battlefield fetched $21.3 million at auction Saturday, setting a world record for the sale of an American portrait, Christie's auction house said.

"George Washington at Princeton," signed and dated 1779 by the Revolutionary period's premier portrait artist, was one of eight full-length portraits of Washington painted by Peale between 1779 and 1781. It was the only one known to be in private hands.

Art dealer C.L. Prickett purchased the painting. Christie's had said earlier it was expected to fetch $10 million to $15 million.

It was offered as part of a collection of American furniture and arts from Natalie Knowlton Blair, who with banker husband, J. Insley Blair, bought the painting in 1919. Knowlton Blair died in 1951.

The entire collection, which includes a 1729 chest of drawers by Robert Crosman and an 18th-century Queen Anne mahogany card table, sold for $32.3 million, setting a record for an Americana collection, Christie's said.

The sale price of the portrait more than doubled the previous record for an American portrait sold at auction - Sotheby's sold a half-length portrait of Washington in November for $8.1 million.

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