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Christie’s July Classic Week sales total £87,169,480

Bidders from 65 countries take part in the 11 sales, with Francesco Guardi’s Venice: The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi  fetching the highest auction price of 2017 for an Old Master painting, and the Beauneveu Lions achieving a world record for a medieval work of art

Christie’s Classic Week concluded on 13 July 2017, achieving a combined total of £87,169,480 / $112,601,271 / €98,976,239 across 11 sales. The week witnessed global participation from 65 countries, along with significant online bidding, highlighting the international collecting base for the Classic Week categories.

The sales were led by Francesco Guardi’s Venice: The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, which realised £26,205,000 / $33,883,065 / €29,847,496 in the Old Masters Evening Sale, the highest price achieved for an Old Master painting this year across all houses, and the Marble Lions from the tomb of Charles V by André Beauneveu, which sold for £9,349,000 / $12,088,257 / €10,648,511, a world auction record for any medieval work of art.

The view of Venice, which has a rich exhibition history, had been offered for sale only once before. It was acquired in 1768 by an English MP, Chaloner Arcedeckne (c. 1743-1804), during his Grand Tour, and remained in the family until 1891. It was then sold privately via Christie’s, along with its pendant, for £3,850, to the great collector Sir Edward Cecil Guinness, later 1st Lord, and 1st Earl of Iveagh (1847–1927), in whose family it had remained.


Francesco Guardi (Venice 1712-1793), Venice the Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi. Oil on canvas, 47⅛ x 80½ in (119.7 x 204.3 cm). Sold for £26,505,000 in Old Masters Evening Sale on 6 July 2017 at Christie’s in London

Francesco Guardi (Venice 1712-1793), Venice: the Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi. Oil on canvas, 47⅛ x 80½ in (119.7 x 204.3 cm). Sold for £26,505,000 in Old Masters Evening Sale on 6 July 2017 at Christie’s in London

The Collection of Raine, Countess Spencer inspired determined bidding, achieving £1,905,938 / $2,458,660 / €2,146,086, with sell-through rates of 93 per cent by lot and 95 per cent by value, bringing the total for the collection to £2,753,938 / $3,555,124 / €3,111,958, including the paintings offered in the Old Masters Evening Sale. The top lot of the sale was an 18 carat gold, ruby and diamond parure by Van Cleef & Arpels, which realised £221,000 / $285,090 / €248,846. 

Further highlights of Classic Week included Albert Einstein’s billiard briar pipe, which achieved £52,500 / $67,253 / €58,590, against a pre-sale estimate of £5,000 to £8,000, and The Maria Fitzherbert Jewel, which sold for £341,000 / $440,913 / €388,399, achieving an artist record for a portrait miniature by Richard Cosway. The online sale, Einstein: Letters to a Friend,  achieved sell-through rates of 100 per cent by lot and value, realising £1,291,667 / $1,666,250 / €1,454,417, over five times its low estimate. 

Institutions participating in the sales included The Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Cleveland Museum of Art. A total of 1,216 works of art were sold, setting 19 auction records in the process. 



Video: André Beauneveu’s carved marble group of two addorsed lions, sold for £9,349,000

These included David Rijckaert II’s oil on panel, A stoneware ewer, a Berkemeyer and a conical glass in a bekerschroef, with confectionary in a silver platter, on a ledge, which sold for £557,000 / $720,201, surpassing the previous world auction record for the artist, which was set at Christie’s in New York in 2015. The extraordinary collection of Tuscan Renaissance cassoni  panels saw world auction records set for works by Liberale da Verona (Verona c. 1445-1526/9)and Pellegrino di Mariano Rossini (active 1449-1492)A little later in the Old Masters Evening SaleThe Holy Family  by Alessandro Rosi (Florence c. 1627-c. 1707) achieved £233,000 / $301,269, easily surpassing the previous world auction record for the artist.

Leading the The Exceptional Sale, which achieved a total of £11,589,500, was André Beauneveu’s carved marble group of two addorsed lions for the tomb of Charles V of France, dated between 1364 and 1366. The lions, which were shrouded in mystery for over 200 years, realised £9,349,000. The Maria Fitzherbert Jewel, a diamond-glazed locket containing a miniature portrait of King George IV, almost tripled its high estimate when it sold for £341,000. 

Classic Week  opened with European Furniture & Works of Artwhich totalled £2,679,750. The top lot was a pair of mid 18th-century North Italian gilt-metal and rock-crystal eight-light chandeliers, which sold for £185,000, more than twice the high estimate. 

The Antiquities  sale realised £4,613,750 and was 91.5 per cent sold by lot and 98 per cent by value. The top price in the sale was achieved with an Egyptian granite head of Sekhmet, circa 1388-1351 BC, which sold for £605,000, more than four times its high estimate.

Old Master Drawings & Watercolours  was 82.5 per cent sold by value, and totalled £4,962,625, led by J. M. W. Turner’s wonderful watercolour, Norham Castle: Sunrise, which realised £581,000.