A painting by Claude Monet not seen in public for more than a century was unveiled briefly yesterday before going back under wraps for a high-security flight to New York.
Prairie de Limetz is one of 36 impressionist works, collectively worth £30m, which are going on exhibition in New York before being auctioned in London next month.
Monet's 1888 depiction of poplar trees beside the river Epte is expected to sell for £3m, but it is not the most expensive item in the collection. That is Pierre-Auguste Renoir's 1876 work Le Premier Pas, which depicts one of his favourite models Nini Lopez and is expected to raise £6m.
However, the Monet's history means it is likely to be the main attraction in New York. Unseen in public for 113 years, it was bought directly from the artist by Vincent van Gogh's brother, Theo, and was sold privately until it reached the grandfather of the present owner in 1950.
Jussi Pylkkanen, of Christie's, said yesterday: "It is one of a series of beautiful, luminescent landscapes which have a poise and elegance never previously seen in Monet's canvasses.
"Our exhibitions in New York and London will represent the first occasions for which this work has been on public exhibition for well over a century."