Old Master Paintings have been at the core of our business since James Christie founded the firm in 1766. It is fascinating to think that old master painters were the contemporary artists of James Christie’s time. The famous portrait of James Christie, now in the Getty Museum, was painted by Thomas Gainsborough in 1778.
In today’s age, old masters are more relevant than ever - the pinnacle of western art history, providing depth, quality, rarity, and longevity that is not available anywhere else. It is still possible to buy works by the greatest names who have influenced art for 500 years (Botticelli, Rembrandt, Rubens, El Greco, Goya, Breughel, Canaletto, Turner, Constable and many more), as well as great works by lesser known artists.
Great old master paintings command the highest price in today’s art market. Some highlights of our auction and private sales are illustrated above. However many old master paintings can be bought for very affordable prices.
In 2016, our 250th anniversary, Christie’s has redefined the market for old masters by creating marquee Classic Weeks in London in July and December and in New York in April and October. These Classic Weeks combine our traditional old master and 19th Century art auctions with sales of decorative arts and antiquities. Christie’s has also led the market with innovative cross-category concept sales: Revolution in New York, and Defining British Art in London, which juxtapose great art from old masters to contemporary. These marquee weeks and concept sales have produced outstanding results in terms of both sales values and sold rates, generating strong bidding from traditional collectors as well as new clients from Asia and collectors of 20th Century art.
Christie’s 2016 summer old master auctions in London totalled £88 million, the highest total for the category at any auction house since our record season in July 2012.
Christie’s international team of old master specialists are passionate experts who lead the market in sourcing and selling the best works, fresh to market, with exceptional provenance.
We look forward to our next Classic Weeks in New York in October, during the week of the first Tefaf New York art fair, and in London in December. We also look forward to our old master paintings sales in Paris in September, during the week of the Biennale des Antiquaires, and in Amsterdam in November.
Private sales offer a discreet alternative to public auction for buyers and sellers.
Christie’s has been conducting major private sales of old master paintings since James Christie negotiated the sale of the art collection of Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, to Catherine the Great of Russia in 1778.
Please contact our very accessible international specialists to discuss buying, selling, valuation or any other subject.