Since the founding of Christie’s in 1766, sales of European and British Old Master Paintings have been at the epicentre of the company’s unrivalled auction history. This field encompasses most of the great names of the European artistic tradition, including artists, patrons and collectors, from before the Renaissance to the early 19th century.
Christie’s is the worldwide market leader for Old Master Paintings demonstrated particular strength in recent seasons, by establishing benchmark prices for outstanding works. Christie’s 3 July 2012 evening auction of Old Master & British Paintings in London realised £85,057,100 / $133,454,590/ €105,725,975, the highest ever total for the category at auction. In 2012, Christie’s held 7 of the top 10 prices in the category thus underscoring its dominant position and expertise in sourcing consistently fresh work with exceptional provenance. The market for Old Master Paintings has grown in popularity throughout the global collecting world with an increasingly international clientele coming from Asia, the Middle East , South America, and Russia. Moreover, new collectors are emerging within the more established corners of Europe and North America.
Our January 2013 sale in New York set three world records, including Annibale Carracci’s The Annunciation. Then, the July 2013 London sale, set a world record for the artist Abel Grimmer’s work, The Tower of Babel, which realised £980,275. We also saw exceptional results from Canaletto’s The Molo, Venice, from the Bacino di San Marco, estimated at 4,000,000-6,000,000, which sold for £ 8,461,875; and Sir Thomas Lawrence’s Portrait of Emily, estimated at 400,000-600,000, which realised £901,875.
Over the last few years, Christie's has sold outstanding paintings by masters such as Raphael, Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough, Canaletto, Constable, Turner and Titian and maintains record auction prices for works by British, Dutch, Flemish, German, French and Italian Old Masters. Christie's Old Master sales in London, New York, Paris, and Amsterdam offer a widely diverse range of subject matter; including still lifes, landscapes, portraiture, genre scenes, and pictures that depict the mythological, classical, historical and biblical themes that have defined the tenets of Western tradition and culture. The variety and mastery of work offered within this department embodies the significant expertise exemplified during this period.
In addition to our auctions, Christie's Private Sales allow one the flexibility and discretion to buy or sell works of art outside the auction framework. Our specialists work with buyers and sellers alike offering their experience, expertise and unique global reach to quickly identify either the work of art or the potential buyer.