Sotheby's auctions classic Ely Cathedral painting

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A STUNNING 19th Century masterpiece of Ely Cathedral is expected to fetch thousands of pounds at auction.

Keeley Halswelle’s 1886 oil painting, which shows the grand ancient building with a steam training running through the foreground, was designed to depict the contrast between old and new.

Its now quaint appearance in today’s modern world is predicted to make it worth between £10,000 and £15,000 when it is sold at Sotheby’s in London.

Some experts quietly predict it will sell for more.

Simon Toll, a specialist in Victorian and Edwardian paintings, said: “The idea was that Ely Cathedral represented the past and that the train racing through showed the modern world.

“With the glorious landscape and the majesty of the building, it is quite a contrasting picture. It is not purely a landscape painting.

“To have a steam train in the picture now looks quite quaint but it was depicting something very modern at the time.”

The painting, titled Passing Storm, came to Sotheby’s from a private collector.

It has been held by various people over the years but was sold at Christie’s in 1998 for £10,000, making Mr Toll think the picture could fetch much more this time around. “There has already been quite a lot of interest in it,” he said. “The current estimate is quite modest and we are hoping it will do quite well.

“It will probably be bought by someone either with a strong connection to Ely or people who are enthusiastic about trains.”

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