LONDON - Sotheby’s sale of 19th-Century European Paintings in London today realised £7,168,400 / ˆ7,937,589 – surpassing the pre-sale high estimate of £6,748,600/ ˆ7,472,744, and obtaining sell through rates of 70.2% by lot and 88.4% by value. Public institutions pitted themselves against private collectors and trade, driving prices over estimate in many instances. Overall, 41.6% of the works sold today achieved prices in excess of high estimate. The top lot of the day was Joaquin Sorolla’s "Barcas en la Playa", which sold for £1,665,250 / ˆ1,848,763 – doubling the low estimate of £800,000 / ˆ880,000.
Adrian Biddell, Head of 19th-century European Paintings, said after the sale: “We could not be more pleased with the results from today’s sale. We saw spirited bidding from all corners of Europe and beyond. In particular collectors of Scandinavian, Iberian and German art demonstrated an extraordinary appetite for quality works. It was exciting to see paintings by German artists Karl Blechen and Anselm Feuerbach achieve prices that outstripped existing records by multiple factors. The price achieved for the Sorolla demonstrates that Sotheby’s is the best platform for top works by this luminous Spanish painter: over the last twelve months Sotheby’s has sold four Sorollas - each one for a price well in excess of a million pounds. In today’s sale four telephone bidders battled it out for Barcas en la Playa, which finally sold to a private collector for £1,665,250 - well above the high estimate of £1.2 million.”
Spanish works spark strong interest
Spanish works offered today realized a combined total of £2,739,625 / ˆ3,033,594 – exceeding the high estimate for the group of £2,510,700 / ˆ2,780,105, garnering a sell through rate of 70.8% by lot, and 93% by value. Over 47% of the works sold achieved prices above high estimate.
The Spanish section also supplied the star lot of the sale, Joaquin Sorolla’s "Boats on Shore" from the Club Español in Buenos Aires sold for £1,665,250 (well above the high estimate of £1.2 million) to a private collector. Other notable works in the Spanish section were the atmospheric representation of Parisian night life at the turn of the century "Loge at the Concert Hall" by Hermenegildo Anglada-Camarasa, which sold for £313,250, soaring above the high estimate of £180,000, and Julio Romero de Torres’s alluring rendition of one of his favorite models Elena Pardo, "The Torero Girl" bought by an anonymous bidder for £301,250 in line with the pre-sale estimate of £250,000- 350,000.
Works by German, Austrian and Central European artists leave estimates far behind
Works by German artists fared extremely well. Among them, a superb example of the work of symbolist painter Anselm Feuerbach attracted interest from institutions and private collectors alike. Recently restituted to the heirs of Wilhelm Freund, Feuerbach’s "Medea an der Urne" (lot 39) found itself at the center of a protracted bidding battle, finally selling to an anonymous bidder for £457,250 (ˆ507,640) – leaving the pre-sale estimate £15,000-25,000 far behind and establishing a new auction record for the artist.
Other German works – many of them recently restituted or the subject of settlements – were also the subject of intense competition. "Umgestϋrzter Teekessel" (lot 6) by Adolph von Menzel made £373,250 / ˆ414,303 - some seven times the pre-sale estimate (£40,000-60,000), while Karl Blechen’s, "Mϋhle im Tal" (Mill in a Valley, lot 5), once in the collection of Herman Göring and one of two works recently restituted to the heirs of Julius Freund, sold for £91,250 / ˆ101,306 - some six times pre-sale expectations of £12,000-18,000.
A major work by Austrian artist Albin Egger-Lienz - "Ave Maria Nach der Schlacht am Bergisel" (Prayer after the Battle of Bergisel) – aroused a similar level of keen competition, with a host of interested parties driving the price up to a final £123,650 / ˆ137,276 (est: £60,000-80,000). The painting depicted the last of the four battles of the Bergisel - the bicentenary of which is marked this year. Works by Edward Cucuel outperformed estimates by a wide margin: his "Mädchen im Pelz" (lot 28) sold for £94,850 / ˆ105,303 (est: 25,000-35,000), while Sommer (lot 26) sold for £85,250 / ˆ94,645 (est: £15,000- 25,000).
Hungarian artist Janos Vaszary’s "Women in the Park" realized £51,650 / ˆ57,342 (est: £15,000-20,000), while Laszlo Paal’s "Forest Landscape with Figure" (lot 30) sold for £30,000 / ˆ33,306 (est: £7,000-9,000), "Port in Collioure" (lot 34) by Polish artist Maria Melania Mutermilch sold for £36,050 / ˆ40,023 (est: £30,000-40,000).
• Nine of the 11 Scandinavian works offered today found buyers, together realizing a combined total of £946,000 / ˆ1,050,250 (estimate for the 11 works: £769,000-1,143,000). In this section, 97.8% was sold by value, and 81.8% sold by lot.
• Swedish works: A rare double-portrait by Carl Larsson, "Spegelbild Med Brita" (Mirror Image with Brita), depicting the artist with his fifth daughter Brita sold for £421,250 / ˆ467,640. Meanwhile, Isaac Grϋnewald’s "Lot och hans Döttrar" (Lot and his daughters) sold for £181,250 / ˆ201,224 – more than twice its pre-sale estimate of £60,000-80,000.
• Finnish artist Hélène Schjerfbeck demonstrated once again her constant appeal. Her "Little Gudrun" elicited a bid of £133,250 / ˆ147,934.
• "Lunatics" – a majestic piece by leading contemporary Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum realised £97,250 / ˆ107,967.
• Danish artist Johan Laurentz Jensen’s "Exotic Blooms in a Grecian Krater" made £49,250 / ˆ54,677.