LONDON (Reuters) - From Joshua Reynolds to Lucian Freud, works spanning several centuries of British art will go under the hammer as part of a sale celebrating 250 years since auction house Christie's was founded.
The highlights are three major works, led by "Ib and her Husband", an intimate 1992 portrait by Freud of his pregnant daughter and her partner lying on a bed. The painting is estimated at around 18 million pounds ($26.24 million).
Joining it is Reynolds' 1778 "Portrait of Lucy Long, Mrs George Hardinge", which has never previously been publicly offered for sale and has been described as "one of the finest works by the artist to come to the market in a generation".
Said to be in "remarkable" condition, the portrait is estimated at around 2-3 million pounds.
The third major work is "Golden Hours", painted circa 1864 by Frederic Leighton, which goes to auction for the first time in 100 years and is estimated at 3-5 million pounds.
"All of the pictures are exemplary of their type," Orlando Rock, chairman of Christie's UK, told Reuters.
"I think from a quality point of view, they ... all epitomize the periods they were created in."
The works are set to go on tour at Christie's in New York and Hong Kong next month before the June "Defining British Art" sale, which will be launched alongside an exhibition of British art works handled by Christie's.
($1 = 0.6861 pounds)
Reporting by Alex Fraser and Marie-Louise Gumuchian, editing by Ed Osmond