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Described as “extraordinarily rare” by gallerist Philip Mould, the oil sketch sold at a Sotheby’s auction in January for a whopping $201,600 (even though it was expected to sell for 10x less). Philip Mould & Co., the London-based gallery that exhibited the artwork from June 30 to July 6, published a new blog post to give us a closer look at the pieces.

This painting by Diana, Princess of Wales, is a standout in this year’s Masterpiece exhibition, according to the caption on the exhibit’s wall. Drawing inspiration from the late Princess of Wales, this extraordinary head study of Diana was created in 1994 and is widely regarded as the most moving portrait of the “People’s Princess. “”

As a warm-up for a final portrait, artist Nelson Shanks painted this rough sketch, which is now on display at Charles Spencer’s Althorp House estate.

As the Philip Mould gallery pointed out in their caption, “The sittings for this portrait took place at a critical moment in Diana’s personal life, and over the course of thirty sittings and thirty-five hours, Nelson Shanks’ London studio became a place of solace and refuge for Diana.”

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In a letter to Nelson and Leona, Diana wrote: ‘…coming to the studio was a safe haven, so full of love and support.’ They continued, “Diana became close friends with both the artist and his wife Leona.”

Lady Di was painted in a green Catherine Walker dress, which she later wore in a Vanity Fair spread in 1997. The Princess of Wales is depicted in the sketch with her eyes lowered to the ground, as if she is meditating.

Seeing a glimpse of Princess Diana like this is such a treat.

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