POST SALE RELEASE: Old Master and British Paintings Evening Sale - London, 3 July 2012

Christie’s evening auction of Old Master and British Paintings realised £85,057,100/ $133,454,590/ €105,725,975, the highest ever total for the category.

Worldwide

Christie’s evening auction of Old Master and British Paintings realised £85,057,100          / $133,454,590/ €105,725,975, the highest ever total for the category. The sale was 84% sold by lot and 96% by value. The top price was paid for The Lock, a masterpiece by John Constable (1776-1837) which realised £22,441,250/ $35,210,321/ €27,894,474 - a world record price for the artist at auction (estimate: £20 million to £25 million).

Richard Knight, co-Chairman of Old Master and British Paintings Department and Georgina Wilsenach, Head of Old Master & British Paintings at Christie’s London: “This evening we offered an auction of outstanding quality and saw the market for Old Masters continue to break boundaries. Having been entrusted with so many exceptional consignments, highlights of the auction were exhibited in Doha, Hong Kong, Moscow, Amsterdam, New York and then London, alongside masterpieces of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art. This evening’s sale went on to attract buyers from 22 countries in 4 continents, many of whom were new to this category, and some whom were new to Christie’s altogether.  We are thrilled that John Constable’s ‘The Lock’ sold for £22.4 million, setting a new world record price for the artist and equalling the record price for any Old Master painting sold at Christie’s.  We are also very pleased that the Pieter and Olga Dreesmann Collection realised a total of £25.3 million / $39.7 million / €31.5 million, with every work finding a buyer and led by Rembrandt’s ‘A Man in a Gorget and Cap’.

The top price was paid for The Lock, a masterpiece by John Constable (1776-1837) which realised £22,441,250/ $35,210,321/ €27,894,474, setting a world record price for the artist at auction and equalling the record price for an Old Master Painting sold at Christie's* (estimate: £20 million to £25 million). Acquired by an anonymous buyer, it is one of six paintings from the artist’s most celebrated series of large scale works - The Stour Series - which also includes The Hay Wain, now in The National Gallery, London. From the Collection of Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, it had been sold only once before since it was acquired from the artist and is remarkable for its excellent state of preservation.

Highlights of the auction:

-           A Man in a Gorget and Cap, 1626/27, by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (1606-1669) was offered from The Pieter and Olga Dreesmann Collection of Dutch Old Master Paintings  and realised £8,441,250/ $13,244,321/ €10,492,474 (estimate: £8 million -12 million). This remarkable panel by the artist captivates the viewer with an intensity that far exceeds its neat dimensions; it measures 15⅝ x 11⅝ inches (39.8 x 29.4cm). The work presents a masterful treatment of light to create drama, achieved in part by Rembrandt’s use of chiaroscuro, pointing to the influence of Caravaggio, to whom he is clearly indebted in terms of style in this work. Beautifully preserved and richly painted, the artist employs a subtle range of rich colours; the sharp light falling on the steel of the gorget imbues the subject with a startling reality and presence. This work was exhibited in the Rembrandt/Caravaggio exhibition staged by The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, in 2006.

-          Christ between Saints Paul and Peter, a previously unpublished work by Pietro Lorenzetti (circa 1306-45) sold for £5,081,250/ $7,972,481/ €6,315,994  - a world record price for the artist at auction (estimate: £1 million to £1.5 million). Recognised as a mature work by the artist, it is exceptionally rare as it dated to the early trecento – before 1320. This work has not been subject to restoration in modern times and is believed to be the predella below the Madonna and Child enthroned with a Donar at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is stylistically very similar.

-          Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan, 1610, an unpublished and previously unknown copper panel, by Joachim Anthonisz. Wtewael (1566-1638) realised £4,633,250/ $7,269,569/ € 5,759,130, setting a world record price for the artist at auction (estimate: £2 million to £4 million). This is recognized as an indisputable masterpiece of Wtewael’s art, and among the greatest and most characteristic examples of the final phase of Dutch Mannerist painting. A remarkable tale of discovery, this work was offered from the Property of a French Noble Family having been found in storage during a routine Christie’s valuation. Ingeniously conceived, inventively and audaciously designed it is executed in a highly polished miniaturist style. The painting ideally embodies the full scope of Wtewael’s accomplishment. The untouched state of conservation allows every nuance of its refined finish to be read as the artist intended.

-           A Calm - A smalschip and a kaag at anchor with an English man-o'-war beyond by Willem van de Velde II, from The Pieter and Olga Dreesmann Collection of Dutch Old Master Paintings realised £4,073,250/ $6,390,929/ €5,063,050 (estimate: £2.5 million – 3.5 million). In superb condition and offered at auction for the first time in over 15 years, this poetic work beautifully captures the movement and reflections of both light and clouds on calm water. Exemplifying Van de Velde’s technical excellence, the work has a particularly distinguished provenance having formerly been in the collection of the Rothschilds and latterly that of Enrico Fattorini. It is a masterpiece of its kind. 

-          A view of Assendelft, 1634, by Pieter Jansz. Saenredam (1597-1665) realised £3,737,250/ $5,863,745/ €4,645,402 – a world record price for the artist at auction (estimate: £400,000-600,000). This is an extraordinary and highly significant rediscovery and addition to the oeuvre of the most important architectural painter in seventeenth-century Holland. Fewer than sixty paintings by the artist are known, of which the vast majority – in contrast with the present work - are his distinctive, stark, church interiors. 

 

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 * The record price for an Old Master Painting sold at Christie's is shared with Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath, with a Trainer, a Stable-Lad, and a Jockey by George Stubbs which sold for £22,441,250 at Christie’s London on 5 July 2011

        

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