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Landseer stag scene sets price record

IN 1888, Christie's sold Sir Edwin Landseer's Scene in Braemar - Highland Deer for 4,950 guineas; yesterday, Christie's sold it for pounds 793,500, writes Dalya Alberge.

It was purchased by an anonymous private collector in Britain. Although Christie's forecast bidding would reach pounds 1.2m, the price broke the artist's record, more than doubling the previous figure, set in 1989 by a portrait of a Newfoundland dog.

The dramatic painting, nearly 9ft-high, depicts the artist's most familiar subject, the Red Stag, defiantly standing against a dramatic, hazy backdrop of the Scottish Highlands.

Such was the popularity of Landseer (1802-73) in his day that not only was he Queen Victoria's favourite painter, but one of his works sold in 1873 for pounds 10,000 - the highest price recorded in the 19th century.

However, like his Victorian contemporaries, whose works went out of fashion from 1920 to 1970, Landseer fell out of favour with collectors. In 1960 a major painting, Scene of the Olden Time at Bolton Abbey, sold for just pounds 63.

Scene in Braemar was completed in 1857 and has not been seen on the market since it was purchased in 1888 by Sir Edward Cecil Guinness. It has remained in the Guinness family which, for the past 10 years, had loaned it to the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin.

It is believed that the painting will remain in Britain.