A painting by LS Lowry which was not been seen in public for two decades has sold for £5.6 million.
The 1949 work, called The Football Match, was bought at an auction at Christie's in London today, setting a new world record for the artist.
It is not known who bought the painting, which is one of the most eye-catching depictions of the sport by the Manchester City-supporting painter, famed for his depictions of Salford life.
Experts had predicted it would go for between £3.5 million and £4.5 million. Its final price of £5,641,250 includes the buyer's premium.
Hundreds of his signature stick figures can be seen gathered at a match on a washed-out looking pitch between terraced houses and factories with billowing chimneys.
Christie's described the painting as "a modern masterpiece".
Lowry, who died in 1976 at the age of 88, was known for his simple depictions of working-class life.
He painted largely in his spare time while working for the Pall Mall Property Company in Manchester, but still achieved recognition during his life.
He was the royal artist at the Queen's coronation in 1953 - the year after he retired - and nine years later became a Royal Academician. In 1967, his work featured on a stamp.
The sale outstrips the previous highest price for a Lowry, also sold by Christie's, when Good Friday, Daisy Nook fetched £3.8 million in 2007.
Philip Harley, head of 20th century British & Irish art at Christie's London, described the painting as "the ultimate work for passionate connoisseurs of Lowry's work and of football".
The painting toured in London, the US and Paris shortly after it was completed before entering a collection in 1950.
Lowry was famously celebrated in the chart-topping hit Matchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats And Dogs by Brian And Michael in 1978.Reuse content