A painting by LS Lowry that experts had no knowledge of for more than 70 years has sold at auction for £2.65m.
The 1943 work – titled The Mill, Pendlebury – was sold to a private collector at Christie’s in London.
The painting, which depicts workers in the Greater Manchester town enjoying a day off and children playing cricket, had spent most of its life in the US.
Its existence came to light after the death of medical researcher Leonard D Hamilton, the painting’s owner.
Lowry gave the painting to Mr Hamilton’s parents more than 70 years ago, when the family lived in Manchester.
Mr Hamilton took it with him when he moved to the US in 1949, where he went on to make a major contribution to the discovery of the double helix shape of DNA.
The painting had been expected to fetch between £700,000 and £1m at Tuesday’s auction.
Yet its new price tag falls some way behind those of Lowry’s later works The Football Match (1949) and Piccadilly Circus (1960), which both sold for £5.6m in 2011.
Laurence Stephen Lowry gained recognition for his seemingly simple depictions of working-class life in the industrial parts of northern England.
Last year, the painter’s relationship with his mother was dramatised in the film Mrs Lowry & Son, starring Timothy Spall as the artist and Vanessa Redgrave as his mother Elizabeth.
Acme Mill, the mill depicted in the painting, was the first cotton spinning mill in England to be solely driven by electricity. Production ceased in 1959 and the building was demolished in 1984.