A re-discovered major Edwardian artwork yesterday sold for £380,000 – almost double its estimate – at an auction in the Westcountry.
The 1909 picture, titled Summer Idleness: Day Dreams, depicts a voluptuous Mediterranean beauty in a purple dress resting languorously upon a marble bench.
It was painted with meticulous attention to detail by the celebrated but tragic artist John William Godward, who took his own life in 1922.
The painting last passed through an auction house at Christie's in London in 1937 when it made just under £70, barely half of what the painting would have made during the artist's own lifetime.
It was then bought "on impulse" by the seller's mother from Harrods in 1957 for £100.
But the painting created a much bigger stir went it went up for sale at auction at Lawrences Auctioneers in Crewkerne yesterday, quickly surpassing its top estimate of £200,000. It was eventually bought for £380,000, including the buyer's premium, by a London dealer after some determined telephone bidding from other prospective buyers in Britain and America.
"Godward would be astonished by this price," specialist Richard Kay said after the sale.
"Even his very finest works were making just £150 at auction during his lifetime, which equates with barely £10,000 in today's money. However, when faced with the relentless forces of modernism in art in the 1920s, Godward despaired of retaining his market and gassed himself to death over his own stove.
"His family was so shamed by this act that they cut Godward's face out of all their photograph albums.
"It is marvellous to see his work re-assessed afresh and received with such enthusiasm by collectors."