With the saleroom often filled to post-covid capacity, and extremely active telephone and Internet bidding, Koller's
Old Masters & Antiques auction week was a resounding success. The auctions, initially scheduled for late March, realised overall more than 110% of the pre-sale estimates, not including buyer's premium. Bidders were enthusiastic and determined, driving hammer prices of many lots up to ten times their estimates, and this across all fields - fine arts, furniture & decorative arts, and jewellery.
From Corot to Purrmann, 19 June
The auction "From Corot to Purrmann", presenting a private Swiss collection of modern paintings, far exceeded expectations. The top lot was a view by Max Liebermann of his garden at Wannsee (lot 3115), which nearly doubled its pre-sale estimate to sell for CHF 488 000. Another work by Liebermann, a spontaneous depiction of ice skaters (lot 3122), sold for twice its estimate at CHF 305 000. All three works by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot sold for between four and ten times their estimates, led by "Ville d'Avray, un coin d'étang", 1865-70 (lot 3114), estimated CHF 20 000/30 000, which realised CHF 200 000.
Old Masters & 19th Century Paintings, 19 June
Intense bidding for a rare early 17-century still life by female artist Fede Galizia caused it to soar above its estimate of CHF 150 000/200 000 and ultimately sell for CHF 450 000 (lot 3018). A large goldground panel by Bicci di Lorenzo, ca. 1145-50 (lot 3007), sold for close to its upper estimate at CHF 342 000. A landscape by Dutch Golden Age artist Salomon van Ruysdael sold for ten times its pre-sale estimate at CHF 256 000 (lot 3045). Other highlights included an outdoor wedding scene by Marten van Cleve the Elder (lot 3021, CHF 269 000), and a pair of 18-century Mediterranean harbour scenes by Charles François Lacroix de Marseille (lot 3073, CHF 220 000).
The Müller-Frei Collection, 16 June
This private Swiss collection, lovingly assembled over decades, elicited a great amount of interest among bidders, particularly for its stellar examples of Meissen porcelain and English silver. An important Meissen porcelain "crinoline" group after a model by Johann Joachim Kändler from circa 1737 (lot 1542, CHF 50 000/70 000), was hotly disputed among the telephone and online bidders and rose to CHF 214 000. Another Kändler group, depicting an amorous couple with a birdcage (lot 1550) sold for nearly three times its estimate at CHF 116 000. An English silver hot chocolate cup by Ralph Leake (lot 1531) tripled its low estimate at CHF 64 000. The Müller-Freis also collected Asian porcelain, Old Master & modern paintings, and fine furniture, and works in all of these categories sold very well, for example a fine Chinese porcelain "Doucai" vase (lot 1629) which sold for CHF 208 000 against an estimate of CHF 30 000/50 000.
Furniture & Decorative Arts, 18 June / Jewellery, 17 June
The combination of high-quality works and interesting private provenances was a recipe for success in the Furniture & Decorative Arts auction. A pair of Italian silver covered tureens which had remained in the same family since they were created in the second half of the 18th century soared above their estimate of CHF 20 000/40 000 to reach CHF 183 000 (lot 1132). A Régence chest of drawers by François Lieutaud with a noble German provenance sold for CHF 165 000 (lot 1040). A highly attractive micromosaic-inlaid octagonal box, circa 1870, by Roman jeweller August Castellani sold for CHF 156 000 against an estimate of CHF 12 000/18 000 (lot 1202). The jewellery sale was led by a 5.42 ct diamond ring from the 1960s by Harry Winston (lot 2166, CHF 122 000).