A rare Paul Cezanne watercolour artwork that was assumed lost to history and last seen in public in 1953 has re-emerged from a private collection in Texas and was sold for a staggering £11.71m at a New York auction.

Entitled "A Card Player", the Cezanne masterpiece was rediscovered after almost 60 years and was the highlight of the Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale.

Previously known only from a black and white photograph, the study was rediscovered earlier this year in the collection of the late Dr Heinz ichenwald. Eichenwald is a prominent collector and internationally renowned medical expert who spent his career in Dallas, Texas, after migrating to the United States in the mid-1930s.

The artwork, regarded as one of modern art's great masters, was estimated to achieve around £9.24 to £12.3 million.

The Associated Press reported that the French post-impressionist artist created the five-painting "Card Players" series between 1890 and 1896. The preparatory study offers a rare glimpse into Cezanne's creative process. The figure in the painting is that of Paulin Paulet, a gardener on Cezanne's estate near Aix en Provence, France. It was last displayed at a New York gallery in 1953.

"The Card Player series is justifiably regarded as one of the most important of the modern era, influencing so many of the painters who sought to follow in Cézanne's footsteps. This remarkable study offers us a rare glimpse into this modern master's artistic process, showing us how he worked through the pose and positioning of the characters that would come to populate his greatest masterpieces," Sharon Kim, International Director of Impressionist and Modern Art, said in a statement.

"For a full-size study from this series to come to light now, when it was feared to have been lost to history by scholars and collectors alike, marks a pivotal moment in the art market and promises to inspire great interest from clients around the globe this spring," she further mentioned.

In recent years, rediscovered masterpieces from important private collections like the Eichenwald's have captivated the global art collecting community and pushed auction prices to new and often record-breaking levels.

During May, 2010, Christie's set a world auction record of £65.6 million for the most expensive painting ever sold at auction with the sale of Pablo Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust, a 1932 master work by the artist that had emerged from a private California collection after more than six decades.