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Record for a Sale of Old Master & 19th Century Paintings and Drawings at Sotheby's
Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat (1570), an exceptional example of the work of Simon de Myle, soared to €1,095,150/$1,564,739 (lot 30, estimate €300,000-400,000). Photo: Sotheby's.

PARIS.- The final sale of the season at Sotheby’s Paris, devoted to Old Master & 19th Century Paintings & Drawings, yielded €7.6m – the highest total for a sale of Old Master & 19th Century Paintings & Drawings by Sotheby’s France to date, including three world records.

Pierre Etienne, Head of the Old Master Paintings & Drawings Department, observed that ‘Today’s sale included many rediscovered or market-fresh works from 17th and 18th century France, consigned from European private collections like the prestigious House of Bourbon or the former Hôtel Biron. The results obtained reflect the vitality of the market for Old Master pictures which, for quality works, remains dynamic and international; international connoisseurs have no hesitation in competing for high-level works that have been carefully selected for provenance, condition and artistic quality.’

The sale’s highest price of €1,241,252/$1,773,492 was paid by a French buyer for an exceptional set of seven sketches made by Jean-François de Troy for his cartoons for the Story of Esther tapestry suite made by the Manufacture des Gobelins (lots 61-67).

Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat (1570), an exceptional example of the work of Simon de Myle, soared to €1,095,150/$1,564,739 (lot 30, estimate €300,000-400,000). The unique nature of this striking, highly personal work prompted furious competition between European and American bidders.

French painting was also represented by a portrait of a lady at work by Charles-Antoine Coypel, which obtained the afternoon’s third-highest price of €276,750/$395,418 (lot 55, est. €60,000-80,000).

The Collection of the House of Bourbon produced two world records: €276,750/$395,418 for a charming portrait of a Young Woman in an Interior Holding a Glass by Dutch painter Cornelis Pietersz Bega (lot 46, est. €30,000-40,000); and €132,750/$189,672 – over four times its €30,000 estimate – for Auction on a Village Square by Nicolas-Antoine Taunay (lot 47).

The French State pre-empted two paintings: Michele Desubleo’s Allegory of Music for €70,350/$100,515, on behalf of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Strasbourg (lot 31, est. €30,000-40,000); and Jean-François Le Moyne’s Diana Returning from the Hunt for €456,750/$652,600, enabling the work to return to its original home – the Hôtel Biron in Paris, now the Rodin Museum (lot 59, est. €200,000-300,000).

Amongst the 19th century paintings and drawings, works by leading French landscapists aroused keen interest. Two canvases by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot proved popular: his Archway – Auteuil tripled its €50,000 high-estimate on €162,750/$232,536 (lot 125); while his Souvenir of Normandy (Sunset) claimed €114,750/$163,954 (lot 112, est. €70,000-100,000).

Meanwhile Alphonse-Henri Perrin’s Gardens of the Villa Medici in Rome flew to €168,750/$241,108, a world record for the artist (lot 96, est. €20,000-30,000) ; and Tortoise-Seller in Venice by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-98), evoking his trip to Italy in 1847/8, claimed €120,750/$172,526 (lot 110, est. €100,000-150,000).

A collection of some 70 drawings, paying tribute to the legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt, appealed to a whole bevy of European connoisseurs. The highest bid went to Marie-Désirée Bourgoin’s large watercolour portrayal of Sarah Bernhardt sculpting in her studio in 1879, which doubled its €18,000 high-estimate on €35,550/$50,793 (lot 153).

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June 28, 2011

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