Key to tonights 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, its thrilling still to be introducing works by great masters to the market for the very first time. ---Alex Bell, Sothebys
Worldwide Co-Chairman of Old Master Paintings
TONIGHTS SALE AT A GLANCE:
· Tonights 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 Sothebys London Old Masters Evening Sale
· 40% increase in participants compared to last years equivalent sale
· 25% increase on geographical spread of participants compared to last years equivalent sale, with strong bidding from Russia, Asia and the traditional markets throughout the sale
· 5 auction records achieved
The Top lot of tonights sale was a beautifully preserved version of Pieter Brueghel the Youngers 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 artists 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 Titians oeuvre.
Lorenzo Lottos 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 artists 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).
STRONG PRICES FOR PRIVATE COLLECTIONS
Tonights 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 Ruisdaels 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 Lottos 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 Youngers 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 Saverys 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).