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Last Updated: Monday, 5 June 2006, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Turner breaks record at auction
Turner was inspired by the scenery around Lake Lucerne and the Rigi Mountain

A painting by JMW Turner has sold at auction for 5.832m - a record for a British watercolour.

The Blue Rigi was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder after a 10-minute bidding battle at Christie's in London.

The work, which Christie's described as "the most important watercolour to appear at auction for over 50 years", had been expected to fetch about 2m.

It features Lake Lucerne and the Rigi Mountain, in Switzerland, at sunrise, and was painted in 1842.

The previous record for a Turner watercolour on paper was 2.04m, fetched by Heidelberg with a Rainbow in 2001.

The Blue Rigi was bought in 1842 by its first owner for 80 guineas.

It was one of four watercolours Turner produced on his return from a trip to Switzerland the same year.

The 19th Century art critic John Ruskin said of the work: "Turner had never made any drawings like this before and never made any like them again."

It was last sold in 1942 for 1,500 guineas to the family of the owner who sold it on Monday.

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