Norfolk artist Sir Alfred Munnings painting sells for more than £2m

The Sir Alfred Munnings painting which sold at Christies in London for £2,098,500.

The Sir Alfred Munnings painting which sold at Christies in London for £2,098,500. - Credit: Archant

An oil painting by Sir Alfred Munnings of the Queen and her racehorse, Aureole, has been sold at an auction for more than £2m, five times the £400,000 it had been expected to fetch.

It is also now the seventh most valuable Munnings picture sold at an auction.

The picture, HM The Queen and Aureole, in the paddock at Epsom before the Coronation Cup at the Derby meeting, 1954, was painted by Norwich-trained Munnings when he was in his mid-70s.

It depicts a scene when the Queen was 28 in the year after her Coronation in 1953.

It sold for £2,098,500 at Christie's in London on Thursday evening and its sale 'electrified the room' according to Christie's.

Aureole won the Coronation Cup by five lengths from Chatsworth at Epsom on June 3, 1954. The following month Aureole won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

After the race, the Queen was heard to remark: 'Wasn't it a wonderful performance? I hope all Sandringham are on it.'

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The Queen was so pleased she sent a crate of champagne to the press tent.

The Munnings painting also has a link to another famous Elizabeth: former Hollywood queen, Elizabeth Taylor. For several years the Munnings picture was owned by US senator John Warner, who in 1976, became Elizabeth Taylor's sixth husband.

Sir Alfred Munnings, a miller's son born at Mendham, Suffolk, on October 8,1878, started his working life at the age of 14 as an apprentice poster artist in Norwich with lithographers, Page Brothers. After working from nine in the morning to seven at night, he attended Norwich School of Art for a further two hours each evening.

In 1904, he moved to Swainsthorpe, where he rented part of a farmhouse, Church Farm, for £10 a year.