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Rubens masterpiece sets Christie’s record

Lot and His Daughters sells for £44,882,500 — the highest price ever achieved for an Old Master painting at Christie’s — following an electrifying bidding battle

An exceptional early work by Peter Paul Rubens, Lot and His Daughters, led Christie’s Old Master and British Paintings Evening Sale on 7 July, realising £44,882,500 /$58,167,720 after an intense battle between four bidders which lasted for an electrifying 14 minutes.

The figure represents the highest price ever achieved for an Old Master painting in Christie’s 250-year history. This outstanding result built on the success of last month's Defining British Art Evening Sale: the Old Master section was 100% sold and realised £23,007,000.

Paul Raison, Deputy Chairman of Old Master Pictures, commented: ‘The sale of this significant painting demonstrates that Christie’s continues to lead the masterpiece market at auction and in this field. A stunning work of psychological complexity, Lot and His Daughters was created at a time when Rubens’ reputation as the most renowned artist in Antwerp had already placed him firmly at the centre of the European artistic stage.’ 

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Seigen 1577-1640 Antwerp), Lot and His Daughters, circa 1613-1614. Oil on canvas, 74 x 88½ in. (190 x 225 cm). Sold for £44,882,500 on 7 July 2016

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Seigen 1577-1640 Antwerp), Lot and His Daughters, circa 1613-1614. Oil on canvas, 74 x 88½ in. (190 x 225 cm). Sold for £44,882,500 on 7 July 2016

One of the most important paintings by the master to have remained in private hands, Lot and His Daughters had been unseen in public for more than a century. Measuring more than two metres wide, the work boasts remarkable provenance, having been held in the collections of wealthy Antwerp merchants, a Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands, Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor and the Dukes of Marlborough, who hung it in Blenheim Palace — the work having been sold in its original Blenheim frame.

The result contributed to the £63,390,100/$84,745,570 overall total for Christie’s Old Master and British Paintings Evening Sale, which achieved sell-through rates of 93 per cent by value and 77 per cent by lot, attracting registered bidders from 25 countries across 5 continents. The sale formed part of Christie’s ongoing Classic Week — the first of its kind in London — bringing its running total to £86,150,663.

Commenting on the sale, Henry Pettifer, International Director, Head of Old Master & British Paintings, highlighted the ‘energetic’ atmosphere in the sale room. ‘Top prices were realised at all price levels,’ he observed, ‘with notable highlights including The Four Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter by Pieter Brueghel II, which sold over estimate to achieve £6,466,500; Bellotto’s pair of panoramas of the Grand Canal Venice which realised £3,554,500; and Jacob van Ruisdael’s View of Haarlem, which reached £1,538,500.’

Christie’s Classic Week continues until 13 July, with highlights set to include a leather jacket once owned by Einstein, and an original autograph manuscript written by J.S. Bach.