Classic Week London | Autumn 2023

Art from antiquity to the 21st century

  • Event date 1 - 15 December
  • Event location London & Online

London Classic Week has concluded the 2023 sales calendar, totalling £43,091,506 over seven live and online sales celebrating the transformative power of creativity and invention.

Newly unveiled masterpieces led the sale season, with a pair of evocative views of Venice by Canaletto — unseen on the market since 1777 — taking top billing at £9,740,000, followed by Michael Sweert’s A portrait of the artist (?) presenting the Virgin in Prayer which had been unknown to scholars far exceeding its £400,000–600,000 estimate at £1,734,000. Old Masters Part I achieved the highest December total in London since 2019.

Rembrandt’s legacy as one of the greatest painter-printmakers in the history of European art was celebrated on 7 December. Seventy-four works from the Sam Josefowitz collection, the greatest private collector of prints by the Old Master in the 20th century, were offered across two sales, achieving a remarkable success. Two of his most important prints, The Three Trees and Christ crucified between two Thieves: ‘The Three Crosses’, sold for £869,400 and £1,225,800 respectively. The dedicated sale of Graphic Masterpieces by Rembrandt van Rijn achieved the highest total for an Old Master prints sale since 1985, with 100% of lots sold and an aggregate hammer price of 201% against low estimate. After ten minutes of competitive bidding, Saint Jerome reading in an Italian Landscape sold for a record-breaking £1,552,500 and his only etched still-life, The Shell (Conus Marmoreus) concluded the sale, far exceeding its £80,000–120,000 estimate to reach £730,800. Over 50 subjects achieved world record prices at auction, attracting bids from 22 countries. More rarities from the collection will be offered at Christie’s in 2024.

The inaugural sale of Ancient to Modern Art from the Mougins Museum of Classical Art showcased a harmonious blend of artwork from antiquity to the 21st century, with Part I totalling £4,302,900 and Sir Antony Gormley’s Reflection II leading the sale. From a 14th-century scientific instrument to modern literature, the Valuable Books and Manuscripts auction totalled £1,941,156, with a 15th-century Master of Jean Rolin Book of Hours taking top billing at £151,200. In The Alphabet of Genius: Important Autograph Letters and Manuscripts, a charming group of illustrations for the iconic children’s book The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry captivated collectors, with an original watercolour selling for ten times its mid-estimate and setting a new world record at £302,400. Three works from the British and European Art sale were acquired by major international institutions, while David Roberts’s Piazza of St Mark from the Canal, Venice set an auction record of a Venetian work by the artist at £302,400. Together, these successes underscore the quality of the work on offer.

The results of Classic Week reflect that the market continues to respond well to rare works, particularly those in exceptional condition, that are offered fresh to the market.

Classic Week continues in New York from 17 January 2024, bringing an exciting line-up of art from antiquity to the 20th century. Join us then, or when the auction series return to London in July.

Viewing

Christie's London


Location
Christie’s London
8 King Street, St. James’s
London, SW1Y 6QT

Viewing
Part I
1 December, 11:00am – 5:00pm
2 December, 12:00pm – 5:00pm
3 December, 12:00pm – 5:00pm
4 December, 9:00am – 5:00pm
5 December, 9:00am – 5:00pm
6 December, 9:00am – 5:00pm
7 December, 9:00am – 5:00pm

Part II
9 Dec 12:00pm – 5:00pm
10 Dec 12:00pm – 5:00pm
11 Dec 9:00am – 5:00pm
12 Dec 9:00am – 5:00pm
13 Dec 9:00am – 5:00pm

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Image caption: © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved DACS/Artimage 2023