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Unearthed Sir John Lavery painting could fetch £54k

By Dick Barton

A lost oil painting by a Belfast-born artist has turned up after 90 years and is set to fetch between £38,000 and £54,000 at auction in America next week.

A View Of Fez was painted by Sir John Lavery in 1919 and was last seen in public in Boston in 1926. Its whereabouts were unknown for nearly a century.

Professor Kenneth McConkey, Lavery's biographer and the leading authority on his life and work, hailed its reappearance as "a wonderful discovery."

Seth Armitage, head of research for 19th century paintings at Sotheby's in New York, said: "Kenneth McConkey, the Lavery scholar, knew of the painting by title as it was exhibited just once, in Boston in 1926, but he had never seen it before.

"When we emailed him, he called it a wonderful discovery, and it is. In fact, its rediscovery has afforded a new appreciation of the artist's time in north Africa, as it helps document his travel there in 1919."

For the last part of a painting expedition to Morocco in 1919, when he painted Fez, the then-capital of the country, Lavery was joined by his friend, future Prime Minister and war-time leader Winston Churchill, a keen amateur artist.

The painting is expected to fetch between $50,000 and $70,000 (£38,000-£54,000) when it is auctioned at Sotheby's in New York next Wednesday.

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