A recently discovered painting by British artist LS Lowry has sold for £2.6 million at auction.
The Mill, Pendlebury belonged to a DNA scientist and the art world only became aware of its existence in August, when the owner passed away.
The painting from 1943 shows one of Lowry’s typical industrial landscapes, thought to be in the north west of England.
Lowry mostly depicted scenes of industrial Britain, featuring chimney stacks, mills and factories – as well as matchstick figures in the shadows of the buildings.
The Mill, Pendlebury was bought by the Mancunian scientist Dr Leonard D Hamilton in the early part of Lowry’s art career, and was hung on his bedroom wall while he was studying medicine at the University of Oxford.
In 1949 Dr Hamilton travelled to the US, along with the painting; there, he was said to have helped pioneer the discovery of the double helix shape of DNA by developing a technique to extract it.
On Tuesday evening, a private collector bought the painting for £2.65m at the Christie’s auction house in London – smashing the guide price of £700,000 to £1 million.
The head of modern British art at the auction house, Nick Orchard, said the artwork’s composition “just ticks all the boxes” and that the history of the painting would have been a draw for collectors.
He added: “The figures are a lot more differentiated than in other works, although it is not untypical from Lowry’s work from this period, but the figures add the emotion to the painting.
“It’s about the people and their ease in an industrial setting. It’s a happy painting – it has to be a Saturday or a Sunday because the men are not at work, they’re pushing the prams.
“The children are not at school, they’re playing cricket.
“It’s Britain at play, which is a nice thing to see.”