The work by the celebrated train painter came for sale from descendants of the Haworth family who originally commissioned it. Offered with an estimate at £40,000-60,000 at the auction on March 10-11, it drew significant interest and was eventually knocked down at £65,000 to a private buyer based in California who left a commission bid.
Evening Star at Full Steam dates from 1963, two years before the BR standard class 9F engine became the last steam-powered locomotive to be withdrawn from service.
The engine is now in the National Railway Museum in York.
The 2ft 6in x 3ft 4in (76cm x 1.02m) oil painting was commissioned from Cuneo by the printer James Haworth & Company for use in the company’s 1964 calendar. It later became one of Haworth’s most successful fine art prints (copies of the original edition of 2500 can be bought for £75 today, while later reproductions now sell on eBay for around £40).
The original painting was one of 12 Cuneo works exhibited at a 50th anniversary dinner of railway track manufacturer Pandrol in 1987 and also formed part of the dedicated Cuneo exhibition held at the Mall Galleries in 1988.
Cuneo included his trademark rodent which can be spotted on the telegraph pole.
The 9F engines were among the largest steam locomotives ever built in the UK. When they first entered service in the 1950s they earned the nickname ‘spaceships’.
Evening Star was completed at Swindon Works in 1960. Although it was built with the intention that it would be preserved as a heritage object and had a short five-year working life, it had a notable career in service, often hauling its carriages and freights through England’s western regions at a top speed of over 90mph.