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    This full length  portrait of Isabel de Borbon (1602-44), Queen of Spain, the most important work by Diego Velázquez  to come to market in half a century, comes up at Sotheby’s in New York on February 1 with an estimate of around $35 million (€32.48 million).  The much loved queen, widely admired for her quick wit, intelligence and generous spirit, was daughter of King Henri IV of France and his second wife, Marie de Medici. The portrait once hung at the Buen Retiro palace in Madrid and at the Louvre. It was taken to France after Napoleon’s invasion of Spain in 1808 and sold to merchant banker Henry Huth in 1838.  Last at auction in 1950 it has been in the possession of the present owners since 1978 and is among the most valuable Old Masters ever to come to market. The last time a portrait of this calibre by the artist came to auction was 1970, when his Juan de Pareja sold for £2.3 million (€2.69 million)  – almost tripling the previous world auction record for any painting. Velázquez is among the most influential Spanish painters of all time.

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