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Old Master Paintings Realise GBP13,334,000 at Sotheby's
Girolamo da Carpi, Ferrara circa 1501 - 1556 (?), Portrait of Bindo Altoviti (1491-1556). Estimate: 200,000—300,000 GBP. Sold for: 3,065,250 GBP. © Sotheby’s.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s second major sale of Old Master Paintings in London this year was staged this evening and realised £13,334,000, against a pre-sale estimate of £9,510,000-13,540,000. The sale was 61.5% sold by lot and 71.7% sold by value and a majority of the works achieved prices in excess of their pre-sale estimates. Seven new artist records were set tonight and there were more than 150 registered bidders.

Alex Bell, International Head of Sotheby’s Old Masters Department, said: “This evening’s sale showed enormous strength for quality paintings with attractive estimates that are fresh to the market. Considerable excitement was generated in the saleroom when van Mieris’s A Young Woman In a Red Jacket Feeding a Parrot – probably the artist’s most famous image – came up for sale and sold for five times its high estimate. An exceptional Renaissance portrait of Bindo Altoviti also achieved an outstanding price of £3,065,250, ten times the high estimate. The results prove that the market for Old Master Paintings, which enjoys a stable collecting base, is both robust and resilient.”

The top-selling lot in tonight’s sale was Frans van Mieris the Elder’s A Young Woman in a Red Jacket Feeding a Parrot, which soared above pre-sale expectations, bringing £3,625,250 against an estimate of £500,000-700,000. The painting was hotly contested for by some seven bidders before selling to a bidder in the room. This principal version of van Mieris’s most famous and much-copied composition has an impeccable 300-year provenance (its whereabouts have been well documented since the early 18th century) and it is one of the most important works by the artist ever to appear at auction.

Another work, a highly sought-after, eye-catching portrait on marble of Bindo Altoviti by Girolamo da Carpi fetched £3,065,250 against an estimate of £200,000-300,000. The portrait provides a penetrating likeness of one of the most remarkable personalities of the Italian Renaissance - the Florentine banker Bindo Altoviti (1491-1556). The painting has impeccable provenance having passed by direct descent from the late 18th century through successive generations of the Sellon family of Switzerland.

A rare coastal landscape by Jan Brueghel the Elder was another top performer tonight, achieving £1,071,650 against an estimate of £500,000-700,000. Four bidders competed for the painting, which was one of the artist’s earliest works - one he most probably painted at the end of his stay in Rome and before his departure for Milan. A pioneering work, it played a key role in Brueghel’s own development as well as being highly influential on his contemporaries and successive generations of artists in the low countries.

The selection of works from the London residence of the Italian industrialist and businessman, Luigi Koelliker, made £1,004,750 this evening, against an estimate of £1,310,000-1,860,000. This total is in addition to the £2,162,515 realised earlier in the day for the furniture and works of art from the Koelliker Collection. Further paintings from the collection - including an important work by Titian - will be sold in the sale of Old Master Paintings at Sotheby’s New York on January 29 and 30, 2009.

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