- 10 works sell for over £1 million /12 over $1 million
- New records achieved for Pencz, Guercino, Bellini, Joli, Wouwerman, Gandolfi, Rosa and Bonvin
- Top paintings from the Spencer Collections sell for a combined £14.2 million
London – The Evening Sale of Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings, and Watercolours realized £42,338,750 / $64,270,223 / €51,018,194, selling 70% by lot and 92% by value. The sale had a pre-sale estimate of £36,870,000 to £55,830,000.
Richard Knight, International co-Head, and Paul Raison, Head of Old Masters and 19th Century Art at Christie’s London stated: “The market for classical European art continues to produce solid results. This evening's sale took place in a packed saleroom and saw balanced, steady bidding, realising the 3rd highest ever total for the category at Christie's in London. There was a strong demand for works of the highest quality and for only the second time at Christie's in London, a sale in this category sold 10 works for over £1 million. Our decision to offer Old Masters alongside 19th Century Art and Works on Paper continues to reap benefits, as we see ever-increasing levels of cross-over buying between established collectors of these traditional categories. We are delighted with the record price of £5.6 million achieved for Pencz’s Portrait of Sigismund Baldinger, a museum-quality work of great importance and rarity. Equally strong prices were achieved for exceptional works by Rubens and Il Guercino tonight, marking a very positive start to this week’s ongoing sales of items from the Spencer Collections.”
The evening’s top price of £9,001,250/ $13,663,898/ €10,846,506 – the second highest price at auction for a work by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) - was achieved for A Commander being armed for Battle. This highly important portrait was one of two star lots offered from the Spencer Collections and sold by order of the Trustees. Depicting a powerful moment of implacable moral determination, it is masterfully presented by the artist in the most forthright and technically accomplished manner; particularly notable in the facial expressions and the handling of the light. A Commander being armed for Battle by Rubens was a comparatively late arrival to the Spencer collections, having only been at Althorp since 1802 when it hung as an overdoor.
The painting was offered alongside King David, a monumental work by Il Guercino (1591-1666) which realized £5,193,250 / $7,883,354 / €6,257,866, far exceeding the previous auction record of £1.3 million set for the artist’s Semiramis called to arms in 2005. Measuring over 2 metres in height, King David was acquired in Rome through the Scottish painter and dealer Gavin Hamilton by John, 1st Earl Spencer in 1768. Originally commissioned in 1651 by Giuseppe Locatelli for the Palazzo Locatelli in Cesena and depicting the Old Testament Hebrew prophet, King David, the work was bought specifically to hang in the Great Room at Spencer House and remained there until the 1920’s, when it was moved northwards to Althorp.
In total, 10 works of art sold for £1 million (12 over $1 million). Buyers (by lot / by origin) were 28% UK, 53% rest of Europe, and 19% Americas.
New world auction record prices were achieved for the following artists and works:
- Portrait of Sigismund Baldinger by Georg Pencz (circa 1500–1550), one of the last works by the artist to remain in private hands. This strikingly beautiful, museum-quality portrait realized £5,641,250/ $8,563,418 / € 6,797,706, and set a new record auction price for the artist. Widely recognized as a masterpiece of Northern Renaissance painting, the picture represents the final flowering of the golden age of Nuremburg painting, and is an early product of the cross-pollination between German and Italian High Renaissance artists.
- The Madonna and Child in a landscape by Giovanni Bellini (1431/6-1516), a rarely-seen painting by one of the most celebrated of Italian Renaissance artists, fetched £3,513,250 / $5,222,114/ €4,233,466, also setting a new world auction record for the artist. Last publicly exhibited in 1955, this is the most authoritative version of a Madonna composition by Bellini and shows the artist at his most mature and accomplished. The picture was first recorded in the possession of William Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley (1817–1885), who was one of the outstanding English collectors of the mid-19th century.
- Four views of London, a set of four paintings by the 18th century Italian artist Antonio Joli (circa 1700-1777) realized £1,441,250/ $2,187,818/ €1,736,706, marking a new world auction record for the artist. The two views of the Thames offer a dramatic sense of the Cities of London and Westminster, the commercial and political centres of England, as they stood in the mid-18th century, and before they merged into the great metropolis that we know today.
- The departure of a hunting party by Philips Wouwerman (1619-1668) achieved a new record price of £1,217,250/ $1,847,786/ €1,446,786. Recognised since the eighteenth century as one of Philips Wouwerman's 'chefs-d'oeuvre', the importance of this picture was signalled most recently by its selection for the first major monographic exhibition of the artist's work held at the Mauritshuis in 2009-10.
The sale’s other top prices included:
- The Bacino di San Marco, Venice, looking towards the Molo, an 18th century view of the fabled city by Michele Marieschi (1710-1743), fetched £1,609,250/ $2,442,842/ €1,939,146. The picture was originally part of the remarkable assemblage of views of Venice by Canaletto, Bellotto, and Marieschi which was acquired by the 4th Earl of Carlisle for Castle Howard.
- Portrait of Anne Sophia, Countess of Carnarvon (d. 1695) by Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), an important, historical portrait by the celebrated Flemish master, realized £1,609,250/$2,442,842/ €1,939,146. Lady Carnarvon was connected to the court by both birth and marriage. Her father Philip, 4th Earl of Pembroke, had been a favourite of King James I, and remained a central figure in the court of King Charles I, holding the influential position of Lord Chamberlain. The portrait is likely to have been executed for Sir Edmund Verney, with whose family Lady Carnarvon was on friendly terms, and was painted circa 1635.
- Niña en la playa by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923), one of the most important works by the artist to be offered at auction, realized £1,441,250/ $2,187,818/ €1,736,706. It was painted in 1910 at the peak of the artist’s career, following the success of his first exhibition in the United States in 1908.
Full results of the sales can be found at the following link: www.christies.com/results
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Images available on request
Notes to editors:
- Exchange rates for this auction were £:= $1.518/ €1.205
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*Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price - see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue.
*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.