The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Thursday, March 22, 2018

Great provenance & broad spectrum of buyers drive Old Masters Sale
Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of an architect, oil on canvas. Estimate: 200,000 - 300,000. Sold for: 416,750 ($526,980) (€489,763).

LONDON.- “Key to tonight’s success was the extraordinary provenance of a large proportion of the sale, with many of the works coming to the market for the first time, not just in decades but in centuries. The hunger of the market for such works was demonstrated by the participation of multiple bidders on so many of the lots, with paintings being driven well in excess of their estimates by a broad spectrum of private collectors and dealers from across the globe. In a collecting field as old as ours, it’s thrilling still to be introducing works by great masters to the market for the very first time.” ---Alex Bell, Sotheby’s Worldwide Co-Chairman of Old Master Paintings


Tonight’s sale totalled an above-high-estimate 14,835,500 / $18, 759,490 / €17,434,632

Pre-sale estimate: 7,990,000-11,850,000

80% of the lots sold above high estimate

Sell-through rate of 83% - second-highest rate for a Sotheby’s London Old Masters Evening Sale

40% increase in participants compared to last year’s equivalent sale

25% increase on geographical spread of participants compared to last year’s equivalent sale, with strong bidding from Russia, Asia and the traditional markets throughout the sale

5 auction records achieved


• The Top lot of tonight’s sale was a beautifully preserved version of Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s Return from the Kermesse, which realised 2.6m (Lot 34, est. 2-3m). This boisterous depiction of villagers returning from a country fair, full of merriment and abandon, enjoyed great popularity during the artist’s lifetime.

• The second-highest price achieved tonight was for an exceptional early Renaissance portrait by Titian and his studio, Portrait of two boys, said to be members of the Pesaro Family, which realised an above-high-estimate of 2.1m (Lot 11, est. 1-1.5m). This ranks as the fourth highest price achieved at auction for any work by Titian. This striking work is a rarity in the genre of portraiture, as it is one of the first and very few double portraits in Renaissance painting. Its originality also lies in the intensely expressive representation of childhood, rarely seen in Titian’s oeuvre.

• Lorenzo Lotto’s Portrait of an Architect fetched 416,750 (Lot 12, est. 200,000-300,000) – a record price in sterling for the artist. A recently discovered addition to the artist’s oeuvre, the work was probably painted in the 1540s.

• A magnificent 15th-Century Italian gold-ground by the Master of the Osservanza - one of the most prominent Sienese artists of the first half of the 15th century - Flagellation, fetched twice the high estimate at 1.4m (Lot 22, est. 400,000-600,000). This beautiful gold-ground painting from 1441 served as a file cover for official documents relating to the city state of Siena and has remained in the collection of famous German painter Franz von Lenbach for over a century.

• A magnificent gold-ground painting of the Nativity by Bicci di Lorenzo, one of the most important painters of early 15th-century Florence, sold for 368,750 (Lot 23, est. 300,000-500,000) – a record price for the artist.

• The stunning A Still life of tulips, wild roses, cyclamen, yellow ranunculus, forget-me-not and other flowers, in a glass beaker by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, who led the sudden outburst of flower painting in the Netherlands at the start of the 17th century, sold for 1m (Lot 37, est. 800,000-1.2m).

Tonight’s sale was characterised by fresh to market works, sourced from a selection of important collections. Over two thirds of works offered were appearing on the market for the first time in half a century. Almost 50% of the works offered tonight had remained in the same collection for over a century.

• The three works offered from the collection of the Marquess of Lothian sold for a combined total of 794,000 (Lots 1,3-4, est. 100,000-140,000), including Jacob Isaacksz. van Ruisdael’s A river landscape at dusk with a fisherman on a bank in the foreground selling for ten times high estimate at 512,750 (Lot 3, est. 30,000-40,000).

• The ten works sold from the Forbes Collection brought a combined total of 3.9m (Lots 514, est. 1.7-2.5m) – a collection assembled by Sir William Forbes, the Scottish banker and 7th Baronet of Pitsligo in the 19th-Century. This was led by the double portrait by Titian and his studio, Portrait of two boys and Lorenzo Lotto’s Portrait of an architect (detailed in Top Lots above).

• The four works sold from the Rutter Collection doubled pre-sale expectations, bringing a combined total of 1.9m (Lots 15-20, est. 420,000-610,000). These works come from a collection formed in the 1950s and 60s by the Viennese businessman Karl Rutter. This included David Teniers the Younger’s Boys blowing bubbles in an interior selling for over four times its high estimate at 680,750 (Lot 18, est. 80,000-120,000); Roelandt Savery’s The Temptation of Saint Anthony similarly sold for over five times its high estimate at 440,750 (Lot 17, est. 60,000-80,000).


• Lorenzo Lotto for Portrait of an Architect at 416,750 (Lot 12, est. 200,000-300,000) *Record in GBP

• Master of the Straus Madonna for Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist, Saint Anthony Abbot, Saint Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Margaret, which soared to 193,750 (Lot 21, est. 80,000-120,000)

• Master of the Osservanza for The Flagellation which fetched twice the high estimate at 1.4m (Lot 22, est. 400,000-600,000)

• Bicci di Lorenzo for The Nativity which sold for 368,750 (Lot 23, est. 300,000-500,000)

• Jacob Savery The Elder for The Season of Winter: a snowy landscape with a wedding procession and figures playing on the ice outside a walled town at 368,750 (Lot 32, est. 200,000-300,000).

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