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Sotheby's London Old Master and British Painting Evening Sale soars over estimate to realise $117.1M
17 Auction records, including the highest price ever paid for a drawing by Sandro Botticelli. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- The top lot of the evening was George Stubbs’ Tygers at Play, which realised £7,698,500 ($13,194,459/€9,677,046) (est. £4-6m/ €4.9-7.3m / $6.7-10m). Painted circa 1770-75, this masterful depiction of two leopard cubs ranks among Stubbs’ most popular subjects. The painting had rarely been seen in public, having been exhibited only four times since its original appearance at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Coming from a distinguished British aristocratic collection, it had remained in the possession of a single family until 1962, when it was acquired by the past owners. Tonight it was acquired by an Asian private collector.

17 Auction records, including the highest price ever paid for a drawing by Sandro Botticelli. The only drawing by the great Renaissance Master to have come to auction since the 19th century, Study for a Seated St. Joseph, his head resting on his right hand sold for £1,314,500 ($2,252,922/ €1,652,332) (est. £1-1.5m / €1.2-1.8m/ $1.7-2.5m). This is more than 25 times the price of $88,000 (£52,710) paid by Barbara Piasecka Johnson at Sotheby’s New York in 1988.

Additional records set for Giovanni da Rimini (lot 17), Jan Brueghel the Elder (lot 19), Raffaellino Del Garbo (lot 25), Bartolomeo Cavarozzi (lot 30), Benedetto Gennari (lot 35), Jan Sanders Van Hemessen (lot 41), Jacob Huysmans (lot 42), George Romney (lot 43), Willem Kalf (lot 46), The Master of the Female Half- Lengths (lot 52), Willem van Nieulandt the Younger (lot 56), Hieronymus Francken II (lot 57), Dominic Serres (lot 60), Michele Marieschi (lot 61), a collaboration between Jan Brueghel the Younger and Hendrik van Balen the Elder (lot 2), and a work from the workshop of Albrecht Bouts (lot 7).

A new auction record was set for Giovanni da Rimini when a wing of a diptych depicting episodes from the lives of the Virgin Mary and other saints by Giovanni da Rimini sold for £5,682,500 ($9,739,237/€ 7,142,926) – almost double its high estimate (est. £2-3m / €2.4-3.7m / $3.4-5m). Dating from circa 1300-05, a pivotal moment in European painting, this beautifully preserved panel, painted in tempera on gold ground, had been in the collection of the Dukes of Northumberland since 1856.

Over half of the works (33 lots) offered tonight came from four of the world’s most eminent aristocratic and private collections, including the celebrated collections of the Dukes of Northumberland, the Earls of Warwick, Barbara Piasecka Johnson and Baron Coppée.

Tonight’s sale brought Sotheby’s 2014 Old Master worldwide auction total to $220 million.

Henry Wyndham, Chairman, Sotheby’s Europe commented: “Today’s superb results demonstrate the great appetite of today’s international collectors for outstanding works with exceptional provenance. As we have seen, the key to unleashing the full potential of today’s market is to present such works with the right estimates in thoughtfully curated sales.”

Discussing tonight’s auction, Alex Bell, Joint International Head and Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department said: “This evening’s results set a record for an Old Master and British Paintings Evening sale at Sotheby’s London and eclipsed our landmark 2002 total of £67.58 million. With 17 auction records and unprecedented international participation, we saw the market at its best. The prestigious aristocratic and private collections that constituted the core of tonight’s sale were the secret of this success. Having remained in the same collections for centuries, most of the works carried the imprimatur of the greatest art patrons of the day, such as the Dukes of Northumberland and the Earls of Warwick and bore witness to the discerning eye of some of the most important collectors of the 20th century, including Baron Coppée and Barbara Piasecka Johnson”

RENAISSANCE AND BAROQUE MASTERWORKS FROM THE COLLECTION OF BARBARA PIASECKA JOHNSON Sold to Benefit The Barbara Piasecka Johnson Foundation Totalled £8,095,000 ($13,874,021/€10,175,448) - est. £8.6-12.7m ($13.8-20.4m/ €10-14.8m)

Barbara Piasecka Johnson (1937-2013) - art connoisseur, philanthropist and wife of the late John Seward Johnson, heir to the Johnson and Johnson medical and pharmaceutical firm –assembled one of the most remarkable collections of Old Master paintings, drawings and works of art in recent times.

In addition to the record breaking Botticelli drawing mentioned above, an auction record was set for a work by Caravaggio’s gifted follower, Bartolomeo Cavarozzi when The Sacrifice of Isaac by sold for £3,666,500 ($6,284,014 / €4,608,806) (est. £3-5m/ €3.7-6m / $5-8.4m).

FLEMISH OLD MASTER PAINTINGS FROM THE COPPÉE COLLECTION Totalled £7,555,000 ($12,948,515 / €9,496,666) - est. £6-8.4m ($9.6-13.6m/€7-9.9m)
Assembled by the Belgian industrialist Evence Coppée III (1882-1945) in the 1920s, this outstanding collection comprised almost exclusively 16th and 17th century works, with an emphasis on the works of Pieter Brueghel the Younger and the Brueghel family

A splendidly evocative Winter landscape with a bird trap from 1626 sold for £3,890,500 ($6,667,928 / €4,890,375) to Patti Wong, Sotheby’s Chairman in Asia (est. £1-1.5m/ €1.2-1.8m/$1.7-2.5m)

Recognised as one of the most popular works in the artist’s oeuvre, an Outdoor Wedding Dance, most likely executed in the 1610s, made £1,538,500 ($2,636,835 / €1,933,901) (est. £1-1.5m/ €1.2-1.8m/ $1.7-2.5m)

DRAMATIC PORTRAITS FROM THE COLLECTIONS OF THE EARLS OF WARWICK Each of the 8 works sold for a combined total of £8,756,000 ($15,006,908 / €11,006,328) Est. £4.3-6.5m ($6.9-10.5m/€5-7.6m)
One of the most striking works in this group was an extraordinary portrait of the wildly eccentric traveler and linguist Edward Wortley Montagu (1775) by George Romney (1734-1802) set an auction record for the artist at £4,002,500 ($6,859,885/€5,031,159) (est. £2-3m / $3.4 -5m / €2.4-3.7m). Painted in Venice in 1775, this was the only painting currently known to survive from Romney's two year trip to Italy, between 1773 and 1775

A beautifully preserved portrait of a man by Jan Sanders Van Hemessen (1504-1556) attracted strong interest and sold for £1,762,500 ($3,020,749/ €2,215,470), an auction record for the artist (est. £800,000- 1.2m / $1.3-2m / €975,000-1.5m). The work was painted at a time when the artist was heavily influenced by the art of Bronzino

PROPERTY FROM THE CELEBRATED COLLECTIONS OF THE DUKES OF NORTHUMBERLAND Sold by Order of the 12th Duke of Northumberland and the Trustees of the Northumberland Estates
Over the course of the last two days, £32,694,100 ($54,922,954) worth of property from the prominent ducal collection sold in various sales, including Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, Old Master and British Drawings, Treasures and the Old Master and British Paintings evening sale (est. £13.6-20.4m / $21.9- 32.8m)

In addition to the work by Giovanni the Rimini, other highlights sold tonight included Jan Brueghel the Elder’s Garden of Eden – dated 1613 and painted on copper – which fell to Patti Wong, Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia for £6,802,500 ($11,658,805/ €8,550,771) (est. £2-3m / $3.4m-5m / €2.4-3.7m)

A fascinating portrait of Mohawk War Chieftain Thayendanegea (to whom the English gave the name Joseph Brant) made by Gilbert Stuart in 1786 surpassed estimates to achieve £4,114,500 ($7,051,842 / €5,171,944) (est. £1-1.5m/$1.7-2.5m / €1.2-1.8m)

Earlier today, the Treasures sale was led by a Roman marble statue of Aphrodite, which established a new record for any classical sculpture sold at auction in Europe when it sold for £9,378,500 ($16,073,811/ €11,788,813) (est. £4-6m / €4.9 – 7.4m / $6.8- 10.1m)

THE TREASURES SALE: Totalled £23,593,850 / $40,437,500 / €29,657,567 Pre-sale estimate: £13-20m/ $22.2-34.4m / €16.3-25.2m

Mario Tavella, Sotheby’s Deputy Chairman, Europe, said: “The tremendous allure of treasures from prestigious private collections offered in today’s sale fired the ambitions of bidders. Achieving the highest total for a Decorative Arts sale in history at Sotheby’s London reflected the sale’s composition of works of supreme rarity and quality.”

A mesmerising Swan clock made in London circa 1790 for a Chinese Emperor flew above estimate to sell for £1,538,500 / $3,884,554/ €1,933,901 (est. £1-1.5m / $1.7-2.5m / €1.2-1.9m).

THE OLD MASTER & BRITISH DRAWINGS SALE Realised £5,182,438 / $8,882,180 / €6,514,346 Pre-sale auction estimate: £4-5.8m / $7-9.9m / €5.1-7.3m
The sale was led by John Constable’s oil on paper View of the city of London from Sir Richard Steele's Cottage, Hampstead which more than doubled the pre-sale high estimate and sold for £794,500 ($1,361,694/ €998,690) (est. £200,000-300,000 / $338,000-510,000/ €246,000-369,000).

Works from the collection of the legendary art dealer Jan Krugier more than doubled pre-sale expectations, selling for a combined total of £1,079,875 ($1,850,798) (est. £369,900-525,300 / $633,972-900,312).

Today’s results brought the running total for works from the Krugier collection sold at Sotheby’s worldwide to an outstanding $238,066,522.

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