Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 11:27 UK

Record price for Monet painting

Footage from the auction and comment from Christies auctioneer

A Claude Monet painting has been auctioned for more than $41m (20.9m) in New York, breaking the record for the French impressionist artist.

The painting, Le Pont du chemin de fer a Argenteuil, features a bridge with two trains passing over the River Seine while pleasure boats float below.

Auction house Christie's said the buyer wished to remain anonymous.

The previous record for a Monet painting was $36.5m (18.6m) for his 1904 Nympheas, which sold last year.

Argenteuil was a centre for pleasure boating among affluent Parisians and a popular subject for many impressionist artists.

Monet, who rented a house near the cast-iron railway bridge, painted the work in 1873.

'Uncertain times'

"It is the quintessential early Monet. We will not see another one this good for a long while, I don't suppose, unless this one lures a few out," said Christopher Burge, the auctioneer for the sale.

Le Pont du chemin de fer a Argenteuil
The sale was $4.5m (2.1m) higher than the previous record for a Monet

"It's very rare to get an 1870s Monet of this quality on the market and the result proved that tonight."

However at the same auction, two other works by Monet as well as works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Renoir and Matisse failed to find buyers, adding fuel to concerns that the art market is feeling the pinch of the US housing and credit crises.

"These are still uncertain times for the art market due to the economic climate," Charles Dupplin, art expert at specialist insurer Hiscox, said.

"But Monet's work has a history of stimulating exciting and record breaking auctions and it is cheering to see that the art lover's appetite for exceptional work has not been quelled."

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