Over the last two days, at Sothebys
London, masterpieces from the past attracted collectors from around the world, with over 50 countries and 40% more people participating in our sales of Old Master paintings, sculpture, works of arts and drawings and the highly anticipated Treasures auction. Todays and yesterdays four sales brought a combined total of £31,831,191 /$41,414,233 / 37,353,779.
Many of the lots offered combined royal and aristocratic provenance with extraordinary beauty, freshness to the market and the imprimatur of the most influential art patrons and collectors of their time.
OLD MASTERS EVENING SALE (6 July)
Total: $16,463,500 / $21,284,013 / 19,300,150
Participants from 27 countries (up from the equivalent sale last year)
8 Auction records for works by Jean-Etienne Liotard, Marten van Cleve the Elder, Niccolò di ser Sozzo, Pacino di Bonaguida, Barthel Beham, Louis-Gabriel Blanchet, Dominic Serres and a still life by Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Almost half of the lots sold above high estimates
Three works were pursued by institutions, two of them successfully
Auction record for a work by Jean-Etienne Liotard: One of the last and finest oil paintings by the artist remaining in a Private Collection, A Dutch Girl at Breakfast realised £4,405,000 / $5,694,784 / 5,163,979 (est. £4-6 million). Unseen on the market for almost 250 years, the work had remained in the possession of the family of William Ponsonby, 2nd Earl of Bessborough, Liotards friend and patron, since 1774.
Auction record for a still life by Jan Brueghel the Elder: One of the greatest flower still lifes by left in private hands, Still Life of flowers in a stoneware vase, sold for £3,845,000/ $4,970,816 / 4,507,491 (est. £3-5 million). This beautifully preserved painting has been recently restituted to the Rothschild family, having previously hung in the National Gallery in Prague.
A Monumental Oil Sketch by Rubens, The Chariot of Apollo, fetched £1,145,000/ $1,480,256 / 1,342,283 (est. £1-1.5 million). Not seen on public display since 1823, this oil study had been in the possession of the family of the celebrated Rubens collector August Neuerburg, since 1930.
40% of the works offered tonight had not appeared on the market for over 60 years.
16% of the works have been in the same collection for over 240 years, often remaining in the possession of the families of the original owner.
Dutch & Flemish Paintings
In addition to the Brueghel, the sale included a rich group of Dutch and Flemish paintings which together realised £7,264,500 (est. £7.1-10.9 million).
Italian Renaissance Works
Led by Pacino di Bonaguidas The Miracle of the Tomb of Saint Proculus which sold for £425,000 / $549,440 / 498,227 (est. £50,000-70,000), Italian Renaissance works performed well tonight, realising a combined total of £1,040,000, well above pre-sale expectations (est. £680,000-940,000).
*Previous Auction Records:
Previous auction record for a work by Liotard: Portrait de Mademoiselle Louise Jacquet, Pastel, sold for 1,464,750 ($1,843,612) at sothebys Paris in June 2012
Previous auction record for a still life by Jan Brueghel the Elder: Blumenstrauß in Tonvase, oil on canvas Sold for 2,331,000 ($2,907,571) at Kinsky in November 2014
TREASURES (6 July)
Total: £6,303,250 / $8,148,842 / 7,389,296
Top lot: The magnificent Rothschild Orpheus Cup, made in Augsburg, Southern Germany circa 1600-1640 surpassed expectations and sold for £1,061,000 / $1,371,661 / 1,243,810 (est. £600,000-800,000, illustrated p.1). It is extremely rare for a late Renaissance gold and enamelled object to have stimulated so much comment and adulation. The Orpheus Cup is first recorded as one of the exhibits at the 1862 International Exhibition on loan from the collection of Baron Lionel de Rothschild (1808-1879).
A magnificent ormolu and enamel musical automaton "jardinière" table clock whose case was probably made by Chinese workshops at Guangzhou and the movement was signed by the London clockmaker, Robert Philp, circa 1785 made £1,025,000 / $1,325,120 / 1,201,607 (est. £400,000-600,000).
OLD MASTER AND BRITISH WORKS ON PAPER (5 & 6 July)
Total: £6,149,066 / $8,127,835 / 7,234,388
Top lot: A masterful Self-portrait by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680) soared above estimate and achieved £869,000 / $1,148,644 / 1,022,380, smashing the previous auction record for a work on paper by the artist* (est. £600,000-800,000).
Never previously on the market, this outstanding chalk portrait drawing boasted extraordinary provenance, having remained in the possession of the artists direct descents since it was drawn some 360 years ago. It is one of only two self-portraits by the artist in existence and the only one which remained in private hands.
Drawings from the Oppée Collection
Another highlight of this summers sale was a group of drawings from the famous collection assembled in the first half of the 20th century by the great scholar and connoisseur, Paul Oppé (1878-1957). The ensemble brought £1,866,691, well above the pre-sale estimate of £1.1 to 1.5 million.
* Previous auction record for a work on paper by Sir Peter Lely: Head of a woman, colour chalk, sold for £12,650 (£21,353) at Sothebys London on 10 July 1997.
OLD MASTER SCULPTURE & WORKS OF ART (5 July)
Total: £2,915,375 / $3,853,543 / 3,429,945
Top Lot: Bust of a Nobleman, possibly Ludwig V., Elector Palatine, Southern German, probably Augsburg, circa 1520-1535, sold for £629,000 / $831,412 / 740,020 (Est. £100,000-150,000).
This virtuoso wood bust of a nobleman is a remarkable survival from Renaissance Germany, exceptional in being among only a handful of German portrait busts from the early 16th century that have defied the ravages of time. Originating in a Southern German artistic centre, probably Augsburg, during the 1520s or early 1530s, the portrait is particularly rare in bearing a compelling likeness to one of the foremost Southern German rulers from this period, Ludwig V., Elector Palatine.