The British Drawings and Watercolour department’s strength as the definitive market leader in this field has been cemented by the exceptional sales results achieved in recent years. With a combined experience of over 80 years in the field we continue to deliver exceptional results. Its innovative sales strategy provides a global platform for both buyers and sellers.
Early British works on paper are offered alongside Old Master Drawings three times a year: in January in New York, and in London at both King Street and South Kensington, in July and December respectively. By presenting British drawings in two continents, it has allowed the department to maximize its international position and present such works to a broad, global audience.
Important works are also included in the Old Master Picture Evening sales. This strategy has allowed watercolours and drawings to sit alongside paintings by the same artists, their contemporaries and those European artists who proved so influential on the development of British Art. There are also regular sales of British Drawings and Watercolours at Christie’s South Kensington, as part of their regular series of ‘Interior Sales’. By offering British watercolours and drawings at both our London sale rooms, we are able present works in all price brackets, and thus able to engage and encourage new and young buyers as well as more established collectors.
Victorian and British Impressionist works on paper are sold alongside oil paintings in the highly successful dedicated sales of this period, in June and December in London.
The department holds numerous records including the top two world records for any British work on paper sold at auction, with Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ Love among the Ruins which sold for £14,845,875 and J M W Turner’s The Blue Rigi: Lake of Lucerne, Sunrise which sold for £5,832,000.
Alongside this the department continues its long tradition of highly successful single owner sales, having handled the successful sale of Andrew Wyld: Connoisseur Dealer Parts I and II in July 2012, which was 94% sold by value and 82% by lot.
2013 has continued to build on the success of previous years. Again a number of world records were achieved across the field starting with the sale in New York in January of Thomas Gainsborough’s pastel drawing of Caroline, 4th Duchess of Marlborough, half-length, in a blue and white dress which sold for $2,434,500. At our King Street sale rooms in July an outstanding record was achieved with the sale of the monumental work on paper, Love among the Ruins by Sir Edward Coley Burn-Jones. Having remained unseen since entering a private collection in 1958, this masterpiece achieved £14,845,875. In the same month Daniel Gardner’s group portrait of members of the Sturt family sold for £ 133,875, whilst, in the Victorian sale in December a new world record for a work on paper by the artist Henry Scott Tuke was achieved when his Watching the Sea sold for £92,500. Just a few weeks before, John Constable’s Helmingham Dell, Suffolk, had realised £662,500, more than doubling the previous record, also set by Christie’s in 2009. Strong prices were also achieved for artists as diverse as Turner, Girtin, Lear, Lewis, Thorburn, Seago, Stanhope Forbes and Poynter amongst others.
Overall our sales achieved over £21,000,000 with an overall selling percentage of 79% by lot and 240% by value.