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Portrait of Jane Austen fetches $270,000 on block

A file photo dated Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 shows a portrait of novelist Jane Austen by James Andrews, in Sotheby's auction house, London. (AP Photo/PA, Laura Lean, File) UNITED KINGDOM OUT

A file photo dated Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 shows a portrait of novelist Jane Austen by James Andrews, in Sotheby’s auction house, London. (AP Photo/PA, Laura Lean, File) UNITED KINGDOM OUT

LONDON (AP) — A portrait of “Pride and Prejudice” author Jane Austen that is soon to adorn British banknotes has sold for 164,500 pounds ($270,230) at a London auction.

The watercolor by James Andrews was commissioned by Austen’s nephew in 1869. It was sold by the Austen family and, according to Sotheby’s auction house, has rarely been seen in public.

The portrait is considered a definitive image of Austen, chronicler of English country life 200 years ago. She died in 1817, aged 41.

An engraving of it will appear on England’s 10-pound notes by 2017.

Gabriel Heaton of Sotheby’s described it as “the most important likeness of Jane Austen ever likely to appear on the open market.”

Sotheby’s said Tuesday that the watercolor was sold over the phone to an anonymous private collector.