Brushed by Success:
High Bids for Old Masters
A River Landscape With Elegant Figures On a Path, A Village On The Far Bank
Sold for 50000GBP
By: Clare Speak / World Words Published: September 1, 2013
Greatly sought-after by art investors worldwide, paintings by Old Masters have historically brought steady prices at auction.
A selection of works, including rare specimens from the 16th and 17th centuries, were sold for a total of more than $50.5 million – comfortably within the evening’s pre-sale estimate at the recent Sotheby’s Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale, held in London on 3 July.
The evening’s top lot was a historic naval scene by Willem van de Velde the Younger, The Surrender of the Royal Prince during the Four Days’ Battle, June 1-4 1666. Following nine minutes of intense competition between four bidders, the painting sold for $8.3 million. The winning bidder was a private Dutch collector, so the piece now returns to the Netherlands.
The works of 17th century artist Domenikos Theotokopoulos, also known as El Greco, fetched some of the highest prices at the auction. His renowned oil on canvas work, Saint Dominic in Prayer, eclipsed a pre-sale estimate of $4.5 to 7.5 million to reach a staggering $13,901,629.
Other notable lots in the evening’s sale included Christ Amongst the Doctors, a rare example by 16th-century Italian artist Orazio Borgianni. The painting was listed in the inventory of a Spanish diplomat in 1631 and has since been a favorite among European aristocracy. The work broke the artist’s previous records by selling for $5,333,500 – eight times its estimate.
Alex Bell, Sotheby’s Co-Chairman, commented: “These are exciting times for the Old Masters and British Paintings market. We saw strong prices tonight in an extremely dynamic sale, in which collectors were prepared to go head-to-head for the very best works. The auction attracted an encouraging number of new clients to Sotheby’s and we saw consistently strong participation from the new markets.”
Sotheby’s now hopes to encourage collectors of Impressionist and Modern artworks to re-consider the Old Masters as a reliable investment with more predictable sale prices. Ahead of their fall auctions, Sotheby’s will show J.M.W. Turner’s The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius on November 3 at its York Avenue headquarters. It's expected to sell for $12 to 16 million.