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Sotheby's 19th Century European Paintings Sale in London totals $13.2 million
Sotheby's employees adjust a work by Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla called 'Pescadores Valencianos' (Valencian Fishermen) during a photocall at the auction house in London. The painting estimated at 1 million -1.5 million pounds, (US$ 1.6 - 2.4 million ) sold for £3,737,250 ($5,945,591 / €4,644,666) in the 19th Century European Paintings sale on Nov. 20 in London. AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth.

LONDON.- Today’s sale of 19th Century European Paintings at Sotheby’s London brought a strong total of £8,286,900 / $13,183,629 / €10,298,986, within the pre-sale estimate of £6.7/9.8 million.

The sale was led by Joaquín Sorolla’s Pescadores valencianos (Valencian Fishermen), which sold to a European Foundation for £3,737,250 ($5,945,591 / €4,644,666), establishing a record for the artist at auction in sterling. The work is one of the finest oils by Sorolla ever to appear at auction. A landmark painting, its subject matter and style would go on to influence Sorolla for the next quarter century. In I896, Sorolla presented Pescadores valencianos at the Internationale Kunstausstellung in Berlin where the jury unanimously awarded it a gold medal. It was subsequently acquired by Nationalgalerie in Berlin; the museum de-accessioned the work in 1930 and it has since remained in distinguished private collections and appeared today for the first time at auction.

Commenting on the sale, Adrian Biddell, Senior Director and Head of the 19th Century European Paintings Department, said: “It was as ever a privilege to offer a major work by Sorolla. He is the artist that dominates the 19th Century paintings market. And one that we have had the honour of selling over many years, confirming our market leadership position for the artist –we hold the top ten prices achieved for Sorolla at auction. Pescadores valencianos is an exceptional work, a landmark painting in Sorolla’s oeuvre. We always believed that it would sell well, but it was especially satisfying to find that our belief in the picture was shared by the international collectors who bid on it.”

Danish artist Peder Severin Krøyer’s Marie Krøyer and Anna Ancher on the Beach at Skagen sold for £493,250($784,711 / €613,013), eclipsing its pre-sale estimate £150/250,000 and establishing the second highest price for the artist at auction. The painting was pursued by three bidders on the telephones and three bidders in the room, before finally selling to a European Foundation. The recently re-discovered and newly attributed study is one of four recorded preparatory oil paintings that relate to Krøyer’s large-scale ‘blue period’ masterpiece Summer Evening on Skagen’s South Beach in the Skagen Museum, Denmark. It depicts Marie Krøyer, the painter’s wife, with Anna Ancher arm in arm walking along the shore on Skagen’s South Beach. The work was acquired by Queen Margherita of Italy and remained with the Royal House of Savoy until being acquired by the present owner in the spring of this year.

In addition, a painting by Gustave Courbet never before offered on the market–Le Ruisseau de Plaisir-Fontaine, dans la vallée du Puits Noir, painted in 1864 –sold for £481,250 ($ 765,621 / €598,099), above the high estimate (£200/300,000). Consigned to auction from a French Private Collection, its provenance can be traced unbroken through the same family to the artist, and a sitter for Courbet’s masterpiece L’Enterrement à Ornans (Burial at Ornans). Claude-Hélène-Prosper Teste was Mayor of Ornans and a friend of Courbet, and the picture’s first owner. An evocative subject, an exceptional pristine provenance, and outstanding condition made the painting especially desirable.

Sunset over Lake Ruovesi, a celebration of Finnish identity and the brief Nordic summer by Akseli Gallen-Kallela soared above its pre-sale estimate of £90/120,000 to achieve £325,000 ($517,440 / €404,222), the second highest price for a work by the artist at auction. Painted in 1915-16, the painting had not been exhibited in public in over 20 years. Depicting Lake Ruovesi, where Gallen-Kallela had his 'wilderness studio', the view evokes the quintessence of the Finnish
outback so close to Gallen-Kallela's heart.

A record for a gouache by the artist at auction was established when Nils Dardel’s Young Man in Black, Young Girl in White sold for £445,000 ($708,438 / €553,358) against an estimate of £400/600,000.

Estimates do not include buyer’s premium.

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