Rare Jane Austen watercolour sells for £164,500

A rarely-seen watercolour of British novelist Jane Austen has sold at auction for £164,500 to an anonymous private collector, Sotheby's confirmed.

A rarely-seen watercolour of novelist Jane Austen has sold at auction for £164,50. Credit: PA

The James Andrews portrait was commissioned by Jane Austen's nephew the Rev James Edward Austen-Leigh in 1869, to accompany his influential biography Memoir Of Jane Austen.

It is one of the most famous images of the Pride and Prejudice writer and will appear on the new £10 note from 2017.

Dr Gabriel Heaton, of Sotheby's, described it as "the most important likeness of Jane Austen ever likely to appear on the open market".

He said: "Seeing the most famous image of Jane Austen, for the first time, in a domestic sitting room was an astonishing experience.

"This delicate watercolour is so much more than a piece of literary portraiture - it is part of our cultural history."