Image: George Washington portrait
Christies Images, Ltd.  /  AP
A painting of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale, the premier portrait artist of the American Revolutionary period, was expected to fetch between $10 million and $15 million at Christie's auction house on Saturday, but it sold for more than $20 million.
updated 1/21/2006 11:23:14 PM ET 2006-01-22T04:23:14

Charles Willson Peale’s full-length portrait of George Washington on the American Revolutionary War battlefield fetched $21.3 million at auction Saturday, setting a world record for the sale of an American portrait, Christie’s auction house said.

“George Washington at Princeton,” signed and dated 1779 by the Revolutionary period’s premier portrait artist, was one of eight full-length portraits of Washington painted by Peale between 1779 and 1781. It was the only one known to be in private hands.

Christie’s did not disclose the buyer Saturday. The auction house had said earlier the painting was expected to fetch $10 million to $15 million.

It was offered as part of a collection of American furniture and arts from Natalie Knowlton Blair, who with banker husband J. Insley Blair bought the painting in 1919. Knowlton Blair died in 1951.

The entire collection, which includes a 1729 chest of drawers by Robert Crosman and an 18th-century Queen Anne mahogany card table, sold for $32.3 million, setting a record for an Americana collection, Christie’s said.

The sale price of the portrait more than doubled the previous record for an American portrait sold at auction — Sotheby’s sold a half-length portrait of Washington in November for $8.1 million.

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