Christie's auction house in London has unveiled Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer's rarest work, Saint Praxedis, ahead of an upcoming auction. Jeanne Yurman reports.
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Dozens of art lovers and prospective buyers flocked to Christie's auction house in London this week to see Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer's rarest work. Its name is Saint Praxedis. Painted in the 15th century, the image features a scarlet-robed saint squeezing a martyr's blood. There are 37 Vermeer paintings in the world. Only two, including Saint Praxedis, remain in private collections with the rest belonging to museums. Some art specialists have questioned the painting's authenticity. But Christie's Director of Old Master Paintings, Henry Pettifer, says those doubts should be put to rest. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRISTIE'S DIRECTOR OF OLD MASTER PAINTINGS, HENRY PETTIFER, SAYING: "Well, we're dealing with a signed painting. We've tested and retested the signature. It's very reliably signed by Vermeer. It's dated to 1655, which is his earliest dated painting. And it fits, we believe, strongly with Vermeer's early work. Saint Praxedis is on display ahead of an auction in which Christie's expects serious buyers from Russia and the Far East. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRISTIE'S DIRECTOR OF OLD MASTER PAINTINGS, HENRY PETTIFER, SAYING: "We exhibit a lot of these main highlights pre-sale in those countries. And certainly we are seeing buyers emerging from those countries interested in the very greatest of masters that we can bring to the market." The painting's winning bid could fetch an estimated 8 million pounds or well over $13 million U.S. dollars.
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