Should this portrait by Rubens achieve within its estimate of £3.3m to £4m (PLN18m-PLN24m) when it comes up for sale at DesaUnicum in Warsaw on 17 March, it will become the most expensive work ever sold at auction in Poland. That title is currently held by Two Married Women (1949) by Andrzej Wróblewski, which sold for £2.4m in November last year.
According to DesaUnicum's president Juliusz Windorbski, “in Poland a work of art of such enormous historical, artistic and investment value has never before been exhibited”.
Executed by Rubens and his workshop in his Antwerp studio, Portrait of a Lady (around 1620-25) depicts a woman wearing a black velvet dress, thought to be either Rubens’ wife or one of his sisters-in-law. It has previously been in the collections of the Dukes of Buckingham and Chandos, the mining tycoon Jules Porgès and, from 1950 to 2011, the exiled Egyptian prince Muhammed Ali Ibrahim.
The present owner bought the work from a private London collection in 2018, and the work is listed as currently being held “outside the EU”.