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Sotheby's Sales of Old Master & British Pictures Bring a Total of $94.5 Million
A lighting technician with Sotheby's Rupert Barth von Wehrenalp (L) holds a flash as Sotheby's staff member Helen Collier poses for photographs next to the painting "Modern Rome - Campo Vaccino" by British artist J.M.W. Turne. REUTERS/Paul Hackett.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s summer sales series of Old Master & British pictures (paintings and drawings) concluded yesterday, having realised a total of £62,473,325 / $94,514,064 / €75,094,059 - a figure that is above pre-sale expectations (overall estimate was £42,134,000-61,512,000) and one that represents a 39% increase on the equivalent sales at Sotheby’s last July.

The individual sales brought the following totals:

• Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale - £53,585,250 / $80,862,989 / €64,293,316 (estimated was £33,765,000-49,565,000)

• Old Master & British Paintings Day Sale – £4,042,375 / $ 6,141,985 / €4,837,503 (estimate was £4,285,000-6,169,000)

• Old Master & British Drawings – £3,044,775 / $4,621,968 / €3,670,472 (estimate was £2,680,000-3,792,000)

• Master Drawings from a Distinguished European Collection - £1,901,925 / $2,887,122 / €2,292,768 (estimate was £1,404,000-1,986,000)

Discussing the week’s sales series, Alexander Bell, Co-Chairman of Old Master Paintings, Sotheby’s Worldwide, commented: “This week’s results have demonstrated once again the health and stability of the market for Old Master and British pictures. As we saw throughout 2009, collectors in this field continue to respond very favourably to paintings with strong images, that are fresh to the market, are in good condition and that are well estimated. We saw many exceptional prices, led of course by the record-breaking result for Turner’s Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino. Participation from private collectors – from all over Europe, Russia and North America – was notably higher than usual and buyers came from some 25 different countries, showing the international appeal of this market.”

J.M.W. Turner:
J.M.W. Turner’s great masterpiece Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino took centre stage this week, when it soared above its pre-sale estimate of £12-18 million and sold for £29,721,250 / $44,935,558 / € 35,727,792 – setting a new auction record for the British Master. The work was presented for sale by a descendant of the 5th Earl of Rosebery and it was acquired in the sale by Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, London Dealers, who bid for the work on behalf of The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California.

This exceptional result reaffirms Sotheby’s dominance in the sale of major works by Turner:

• Of the top five Turner oil paintings sold at auction, Sotheby’s has sold four: Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino; The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius; Pope’s Villa at Twickenham; and Seascape Folkestone.

• Of the top ten Turner works sold at auction (oils and watercolours), Sotheby’s has sold seven.

Further strong prices for Turner at Sotheby’s this week included:

• His view of Flint Castle, North Wales, which sold for £541,250 – above its estimate of £300,000-500,000

• His watercolour of Venice from Fusina, which made £825,250 - a price within the estimate of £700,000-1,000,000.

Other notable prices/ moments this series:

• Three rare works by members of the great Brueghel dynasty all performed well: The Kermesse of Saint George with the Dance Around the Maypole sold for £2,505,250 (est: £2.2-2.8 million) while his The Outdoor Wedding Feast by Pieter Brueghel the Younger brought £1,609,250 (est: £900,000-1,300,000); and Jan Brueghel the Elder’s characteristic Flemish village scene made £1,609,250 (est: £800,000-1,200,000). All three paintings had been off the market for more than 50 years and were consigned following the successful sale of Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s The Massacre of the Innocents at Sotheby’s last July for the sum of £4.6 million. The two works by Pieter Brueghel the Younger were hitherto unrecorded.

• Jan Lievens study of the head and shoulders of an old bearded man wearing a cap, from circa 1629, brought £2,505,250, within an estimate of £2-3 million, setting a new record for the artist at auction. This price comfortably exceeds the sum of £1,853,600 achieved for the painting when it last appeared at auction at Sotheby’s in 2004.

Sotheby's | Old Master & British Pictures | Alexander Bell |

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