Enfilade

At Sotheby’s | The Female Triumphant

Posted in Art Market by Editor on February 3, 2019

Press release (30 January 2019), from Sotheby’s:

The Master Paintings Evening Sale, N10007
Sotheby’s, New York, 30 January 2019

Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan, 1788. The painting of India’s ambassador to France sold for $7.2million, surpassing it’s high estimate of $6million.

Sale of Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun’s Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan establishes a new world auction record for any female artist of the pre-modern era.

Sotheby’s annual Masters Week sales series kicked off on Wednesday in New York, with 170 paintings and drawings sold across two auctions for an overall total of $67.8 million. The day began with Sir Peter Paul Rubens’s drawing of a Nude Study of Young Man with Raised Arms (Lot 15) selling for $8.2 million—a new world auction record for any drawing by the iconic artist. That result helped propel the Old Master Drawings Sale (N10006) to a $15.1 million total, which itself marks the highest total for this category in Sotheby’s history. The Master Paintings Evening Sale (N10007) included the work of groundbreaking female artists of the 16th–19th centuries and established multiple auction records, most notably for Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, whose Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan (Lot 48) achieved an incredible $7.2 million—a new world auction record for any female artist of the pre-modern era.

Sotheby’s Masters Week series continued through Saturday, with online sales of Old Masters and 19th Century European Art open for bidding through 6 February. Below is a look at some of the highlights that drove the results of Wednesday’s auctions:

The Female Triumphant

To highlight this year’s Masters Week sales series, Sotheby’s assembled a group of works by female artists of the pre-Modern era, celebrating the lives and important work of these groundbreaking women. Titled The Female Triumphant, the group features major paintings, drawings and sculpture created by leading female artists from the 16th through the 19th centuries.

Angelika Kauffmann, Portrait of Three Children, Likely Lady Georgina Spencer (Later Duchess of Devonshire), Lady Henrietta Spencer, and George Viscount Althorp, ca. 1766–70, oil on canvas.

Calvine Harvey, Specialist in Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department in New York, commented: “The number of Old Master female artists who succeeded and are known to us today remains incredibly few: in 2018, Sotheby’s sold only 14 works by female Old Masters, compared to 1,100 male artists. It’s important to remember that the obstacles women artists of the pre-Modern era faced were substantial, and those that broke down those barriers were truly triumphant. It was therefore such a thrill to see strong prices throughout our initial offering of works from The Female Triumphant—none more so than the monumental portrait by Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun that achieved a new auction record for any work by a female artist of the pre-Modern era. With additional records established for the work Fede Galizia, Angelica Kauffmann, and Giulia Lama, the market clearly responded to the work of these groundbreaking women, including both new and established collectors.”

The initial offering of The Female Triumphant collection featured the top lot of tonight’s auction: Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun’s life-sized Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan, which achieved an astounding $7.2 million, a new world auction record for any female artist of the pre-modern era. Painted in the summer of 1788 and exhibited at the Salon of 1789, when political unrest had begun to boil in France, the work stands today as a symbolic testament to the relationship between Pre-Revolutionary France and India.

Fede Galizia, A Glass Compote with Peaches, Jasmine Flowers, Quinces, and a Grasshopper, oil on panel.

Works from The Female Triumphant established additional auction records for Fede Galizia, Angelika Kauffmann, and Giulia Lama. A pioneer of the still life genre, which she helped invent in the early 17th-century, Fede Galizia’s A Glass Compote with Peaches, Jasmine Flowers, Quinces, and a Grasshopper (Lot 42) achieved $2.4 million (estimate $2/3 million). Although she produced fewer than 20 refined, naturalistic still life compositions on panel, these works inspired followers in her lifetime and are now considered her most important paintings.

One of the wealthiest families in England, the young generation of Spencers likely depicted in Angelika Kauffmann’s Portrait of Three Children (Lot 52), sold for $915,000, surpassing its high estimate of $800,000. One of the most cultured and influential women of her generation, Angelika Kauffmann holds a place of particular importance in European art history as one of only two female founding members of the Royal Academy.

The full press release is available here

More information about Le Brun’s Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan is available here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s