LONDON—Dorchester auctioneers Duke’s has negotiated the sale to the U.K. of two important pre-Raphaelite paintings with a combined value of more than £1.2 million ($2.4 million). Music, an oil on canvas by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, and a watercolor, Hamlet and Ophelia, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, belonged to Jean Preston, a former museum curator who died last year at 77.
The works by Burne-Jones and Rossetti have been accepted by the government “in lieu” of inheritance tax. Pursuant to the terms of Preston’s will, they are earmarked for the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
When Duke’s visited Preston’s house to evaluate the contents, they unexpectedly found not only the pre-Raphaelite pieces but a pair of altar panels by Fra Angelico, which they then sold for nearly £2 million ($3.9 million).
Music, which had been commissioned by William Graham, an important Burne-Jones patron, was sold at Christie’s for £147 in April 1934. Another version of the painting was acquired by Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber in 1997 for £496,500 ($794,000.)