Peter Doig’s canoe painting to fetch £20m

Peter Doig's Swamped' expected to fetch $20-30 million. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Peter Doig's Swamped' expected to fetch $20-30 million. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
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A PAINTING by a Capital-born artist will fetch up to £20 million when it goes under the hammer at an auction house in New York next month.

Swamped was painted by Peter Doig in 1990 – the year he won the prestigious Whitechapel Artist Prize at the age of 31.

The painting captures the mesmerising atmosphere of a moonlit lagoon, with a mysterious white canoe situated at its heart.

It is expected to fetch between $20 and $30m (around £13-20m) when it is sold in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Sale on May 11 and 13 at Christie’s auction house in New York.

Doig’s pictures of canoes have become icons of contemporary painting, according to experts. In this work, Doig’s solitary boat floats silently in the swamp, carrying a motionless figure.

A spokesperson for Christie’s said: “As our eye drifts across the composition, we are greeted by an uncanny yet romantic scene, which is suspended in a perpetual state of uncertainty. Isolating a single frame from the 1980 cult horror classic, Friday the 13th, Doig builds a shuddering ­tension in his painting.

“This atmosphere is only amplified by the artist’s rich assimilation of pictorial techniques and influences from across the history of art.”

Swamped went on display for five days at Christie’s London auction house yesterday, along with two other masterpieces painted by renowned British artists.

Portrait of Henrietta Moraes by Francis Bacon and Benefits Supervisor Resting by Lucien Freud are also expected to fetch millions of dollars when they go under the hammer.

Francis Outred, head of post-war and contemporary art, said: “At the heart of Doig’s oeuvre is an extremely rare series of paintings of canoes made across the last 25 years.

“Swamped is the first fully realised example. It is a phenomenal trip down memory lane for me, having previously fought to get the work into an evening auction in 2002, where it achieved three times the previous world record, at £322,000. ”

Doig, 55, the son of an evidently restless Scottish accountant, was born in Edinburgh in 1959, moved to Trinidad in 1962, where his father worked at a shipping company, then to Canada in 1966.

He moved back to Trinidad, which is now his home, in 2002.