LONDON - Tonight Sotheby’s Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale realised a total of £32,268,650 / $50,600,470 / ˆ40,174,408, comfortably within the pre-sale estimate of £26.7 - 40.4 million. 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, 1st- 4th June 1666, which sold for £5.3m / $8.3m / ˆ6.6m after nine minutes of intense competition among four bidders. This fascinating example of a war artist at work 350 years ago was considered of such national importance that the precursor of the Rijksmuseum attempted to buy the painting when it was offered for sale in 1800, but was outbid. Tonight it was bought by a private Dutch collector, and so will return to Holland.
Alex Bell, Sotheby’s Co-Chairman, Old Master Paintings, Worldwide, 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.”
HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS EVENING’S SALE:
• Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s The Battle Between Carnival and Lent, the artist’s most accomplished work to come to the market in recent memory, achieved £4,521,250 / $7,089,772 / ˆ5,628,948 (est. £4-6 million). Depicting the Brueghelian themes of the folklore and customs associated with the Shrovetide festival as well as the contrasts of human nature, the panel is in an exceptional state of preservation.
The sale featured two masterpieces of the German Renaissance:
• Lucas Cranach the Elder’s The Feilitzsch Altarpiece, sold for £4,297,250 / $6,738,518 / ˆ5,350,068 (est. £4-6 million). This remarkable work, commissioned around 1511 had belonged to only three families in its 500-year history and had never before appeared at auction.
• Hans Baldung Grien’s panel The Virgin as Queen of Heaven Suckling the Infant Christ, sold for £2,113,250 / $3,313,787 / ˆ2,630,992 (est. £1-1.5 million). Appearing at auction for the first time in more than 30 years, the panel had previously been in the collection of the Electors of Hohenzollern and of Robert Von Hirsch, one of the greatest collectors of the 20th century.
Other Notable Results:
• Christ Amongst the Doctors, a rare example by sixteenth century Italian artist Orazio Borgianni, a favourite of the European aristocracy, sold for £3,401,250 / $5,333,500 / ˆ4,234,550 (est. £400,000 - £600,000), setting a record for the artist. The painting has a notably early provenance, having been listed in the inventory of a Spanish diplomat in 1631.
• Travellers Halted at a Country Inn, most likely a unique example of a collaborative work by the Ostade brothers, Adriaen and Isack, sold for £2,169,250 / $3,401,601 - ˆ2,700,712 (est. £1.8-2.5 million).
• Portrait of Edward VI from the Circle of William Scrots sparked animated competition and sold for £1,777,250 / $2,786,906 / ˆ2,212,673, more than twice its estimate of £500,000 – 700,000.
• A 15th century French-school portrait of Louis XI, the only surviving lifetime portrait in oil of the king, eclipsed its estimate to sell for £735,650 / $1,153,573 / ˆ915,883.