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Joe Jones
A landscape by John Constable is expected to sell under the hammer for over £12 million and become one of the most valuable British paintings of all time.
Constable painted The Lock between 1824 and 1825 - and the work, which depicts a scene on the River Stour in the artist’s native Suffolk, has now emerged for the first time in 160 years.
The painting, which was the fifth in a series of six landscapes known as ‘Constable’s Six-Footers’, was made in response to the huge critical acclaim that greeted his first treatment of the composition. Constable loved the painting so much he held onto it until passing away in 1837 at the age of 60.
Following Constable’s death, the picture was offered alongside other major masterpieces in a sale of works from the artist’s studio. It was sold to Charles Birch, a leading collector of the day, for £131 and ten shillings.
Birch later fell on hard times and, in 1855, auctioned off the painting when it sold for £860, a record for any Constable that remained unchallenged until the Hay Wain was sold in 1866.
The painting was bought by William Orme Foster, part of a family of Worcestershire industrialists, and it remains in this family.
Now one of just three major Constables remaining in private hands, The Lock is to be sold by Sotheby's next week at its auction of Old Master & British Paintings in London.
Experts have given the painting an estimate of £8 to £12 million. However, with art prices on the up, there is a good chance The Lock could sell for significantly more.
Julian Gascoigne, Sotheby's senior British pictures specialist, said: "Constable's absolute mastery as a landscape painter is everywhere in this picture - in the vigour of the almost impressionistic brushwork, in the drama of the clouds and the changing weather, even in the movement of the grass in the fields and the sparkle of water as it cascades through the lock.
"It is one of those pictures that captivates, and the more one looks, the more one sees."
The painting will be exhibited in Hong Kong, New York and Los Angeles, before leading the Old Master & British Paintings Sale on 9 December.
Joe Jones
Veteran singer and debut novelist Morrissey has won this year's Bad Sex in Fiction award for his book List of the Lost.
The former Smiths vocalist’s first fiction book, after previously releasing an autobiography in 2013, was published by Penguin in September and received some negative reviews. It tells the story of four Boston relay runners who are cursed by an old man in the woods.
A scene involving Ezra, one of the athletes, and his girlfriend, Eliza, caught the attention of the judges and was the favourite to win when the shortlist was announced last month. The ceremony was presented by Nancy Dell'Olio on Tuesday 1 December.
The scene in question reads: “At this, Eliza and Ezra rolled together into one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.”
The shortlist included The Martini Shot, by the celebrated screenwriter of The Wire, George Pelecanos (“I rubbed myself against her until she was wet as a waterslide”); Joshua Cohen’s Book of Numbers (“her breasts were like young fawns, sheep frolicking in hyssop”); and Before, During, After by Richard Bausch (“When she took him, still a little flaccid, into her mouth, he moaned, ‘Oh, lover’”).
Established in 1993 by the Literary Review’s then editor, Auberon Waugh, the aim of the Bad Sex in Fiction awards is to draw attention to “poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction” with the hope of discouraging them.
Morrissey, who follows in the footsteps of Melvyn Bragg, Rachel Johnson and Sebastian Faulks in winning the dubious award, was unable to attend due to touring commitments. He was also unavailable for comment.
Joe Jones
Thousands of artefacts from the British Museum’s priceless collections have been put online in a partnership with Google that will allow web users to take a virtual stroll through its galleries.
The deal with the Google Cultural Institute, which has 800 partners from over 60 countries, also allows objects to be scrutinised by researchers around the world thanks to high-definition Gigapixel technology.
Artefacts viewable online include the famous Rosetta Stone, which helped unlock the secret of Egyptian hieroglyphs, and sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens.
“The world today has changed, the way we access information has been revolutionised by digital technology,” British Museum director Neil MacGregor said in a statement.
“It is now possible to make our collection accessible, explorable and enjoyable not just for those who physically visit, but to everybody with a computer or a mobile device."
There will also be a “Museum of the World” accessible through the site – a way of viewing the artefacts mapped to a timeline to allow users to make connections between cultures around the world.
Google and British Museum said in a statement that the collections would be “the largest space to be captured on indoor Street View”.
Highlights from the museum’s temporary exhibitions will also be available online, including two currently running on the Celts and ancient Egyptian religions.
Google announced a similar initiative last month that will allow users to view 500,000 works in French museum collections
Joe Jones
David Stewart has won this year's Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 for his group portrait of his daughter and her friends. The National Portrait Gallery presented the £12,000 award to the London-based photographer last night at the awards ceremony.
The winning portrait Five Girls 2014 depicts the distance between a seemingly close group of friends, and mirrors a photograph he took of them seven years ago, which was also displayed in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize in 2008.
About the photograph, David said: “I have always had a fascination with the way people interact – or, in this case, fail to interact, which inspired the photograph of this group of girls.
"While the girls are physically very close and their style and clothing highlight their membership of the same peer group, there is an element of distance between them.”
Second prize has been awarded to Hector, Anoush Abrar’s photograph of a young boy, inspired by Caravaggio’s painting Sleeping Cupid, while third prize has gone to Nyaueth, Peter Zelewski’s photograph of a woman he spotted on Oxford Street whilst working on his series Beautiful Strangers.
Fourth prize was awarded to Amira and her Children, Ivor Prickett’s photograph of a displaced Iraqi family who had fled their village near Mosul after Isis took control of the area.

The John Kobal New Work Award, worth £5,000, was won by Tereza Červeňová for her portrait of her friend Yngvild.
Beginning in 1993, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize has become the National Portrait Gallery’s signature exhibition, attracting contemporary photographers around the globe and offering extensive exposure to seasoned photographers and talented amateurs.
In the words of Dr. Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, “this compelling exhibition is, essentially, a dynamic photographic portrait of the world today.”
The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 exhibition runs from 12 November 2015 to 21 February 2016 at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Admission is £4. For more information, visit the website.

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