A rare painting owned by opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa for many years is set to go under the hammer.

Opening, a large oil on canvas by prominent Kiwi artist the late Sir Peter Siddell, was set to go on display at Mossgreen-Webb's in Auckland on Tuesday before being auctioned off during the Important Paintings and Contemporary Art auction next week.

Dame Kiri sold the work for $191,000 at an auction of important, early and rare art work at the International Art Centre in Parnell in 2012. It has a current estimate of $190,000 to $250,000.

Mossgreen-Webb's head of fine arts Sophie Coupland said this was the first time the "very, very rare" work has been up for grabs since Dame Kiri sold it.


"The last time [Opening] came on the market it achieved an excess of its top estimate so we would really like to see it perform in the same way," said Coupland.

The fact Dame Kiri Te Kanawa had once owned it not only generated interest, but also contributed to the value of the artwork, she said. "I think provenance which is what that is, is always a factor in the sale of work."

The work offers a panoramic view of the Auckland suburb of Mt Eden, from the slopes of the mountain, covered in a blanket of threatening cloud.

While Sir Peter painted numerous works that depicted Mt Eden, his home of many years, Coupland said that at 1.2m by 1.7m Opening was one of the largest and most ambitious works he ever produced.

"This painting is arguably his magnum opus," she said.

"What's important about it is the technical virtuosity, the detailing of the villas and the looming cloud scape [that] really stands it as being arguably his greatest achievement."

The Important Paintings and Contemporary Art auction was set to feature 96 other works.

These included an extremely rare portrait of a Maori chief by French-born convict artist Charles Rodius, that predates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.

The drawing came from a private collection in Melbourne and had an estimate of between $70,000 and $90,000.

The Important Paintings and Contemporary Art auction will be on display at Mossgreen-Webb's on Falcon St, Parnell from Tuesday at 6pm. The auction will take place at the same venue at 6.30pm on November 29.