Rare portrait of Princess Diana sells for more than $200,000, 10 times the asking price

Diana and the painter became close friends during the time they worked on the portrait.

Photo: PATRICK RIVIERE / AFP / Getty Images

A portrait of Princess Diana sold for more than 10 times its expected sale price, auction house Sotheby’s announced..

The oil painting, titled ‘Diana, Princess of Wales’, was painted in 1994 by the late American artist Nelson Shanks. Sotheby’s said it was expected to sell for $20,000, but it ultimately sold for $201,600.

The rare painting of Diana’s face was created during the beginning of a full-length portrait of her. Artists sometimes use these head-only paintings to refine the emotions and perspectives of their sitter’s face. That is, the paint was originally only for the use of the painter.

While the image shows the princess with the same downcast eyes and pensive expression that was included in her full-length portrait, her backless green gown was later swapped for a white blouse for the larger final project, according to Sotheby’s.

The full portrait, which hung in Kensington Palace before being moved to his home in Althorp in Northamptonshire, reflects, according to Sotheby’s: “The emotional cost of Diana’s public life in the mid-1990s, but also her inner resistance“.

Diana, Shanks and his wife Leona became close friends during their time working on the portrait. In a 1994 letter to the couple, Diana wrote: “I miss you and Leona in London as coming to the studio was a safe haven, full of support and love,” CBS reported.

Three years after sending that letter, Diana died in a car accident in Paris at the age of 36.

Shanks was commissioned to create a full-length portrait of the late Princess of Wales in the late 1990s., which required several in-person sessions in which the princess sat posing for more than 35 hours.

The artist is perhaps best known for his official portrait of former US President Bill Clinton, which includes a shadow of Monica Lewinsky’s famous blue Gap dress.

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