Christie’s Two Classic Week Evening Sales Top £64million

Posted in Art Market by Editor on July 10, 2021

Lot 9: Bernardo Bellotto, View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi, 1745-47, oil on canvas, 53 × 93 inches (133 × 235 cm). The lot essay for the painting suggests that “this justly-celebrated picture and its erstwhile companion, Verona from the Ponte Nuova looking upstream with the Castel San Pietro (Powis Castle, the National Trust), are the supreme masterpieces of Bellotto’s early career.” On 8 July 2021 the painting sold at Christie’s for over £10.5million. Slightly below its low estimate of £12million, the price was nevertheless an auction record for Bellotto.

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Christie’s press release, via Art Daily (9 July 2021) . . .

On 8 July 2021, the wealth of works offered across Christie’s two Classic Week Evening sales—the Exceptional Sale [with 30 lots] and the Old Masters Evening Sale [with 46 lots]—realised a combined total of £64.6million ($89 / €75million). Welcoming registered bidders from 102 countries across four continents, the top lot of the evening was Bernardo Bellotto’s View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi, which achieved £10.6million ($14.6 / €12.3million) (estimate: £12–18million). Bringing the running total for Classic Week sales to date to £70,214,250 / $96,723,68 / €81,867,274. The auctions continue until 15 July, and with estimates starting from £500 to £18 million, this marquee week presents rare opportunities for new and established collectors across price levels.

Exceptional Sale
Christie’s, London, 8 July 2021

Lot 20: Leonardo da Vinci, Head of a Bear, silverpoint on pink-beige prepared paper, top corners cut, 3 × 3 inches (7 × 7 cm). The earliest provenance of the small drawing places it in the possession of Sir Thomas Lawrence.

Christie’s Exceptional Sale (No. 19443) realised £19,537,500 / $26,903,138 / €22,780,725, selling 77% by lot and 85% by value. The top lot of the sale was Head of a Bear by Leonardo da Vinci, which set a new world auction record for a drawing by the artist, achieving £8,857,500 / $12,196,778/ €10,327,845.

Stijn Alsteens, International Head of the Department of Old Master Drawings at Christie’s, comments: “Christie’s is greatly honoured to have brought this small but magnificent Old Master drawing to the market in the Exceptional Sale this evening in London. The drawing attracted attention from all around the world, and I was confident that the great quality and rarity of the work would lead to an exceptional result—the fifth highest price ever achieved for an Old Master drawing at auction.”

Giles Forster, Head of the Exceptional Sale, noted: “The breadth and depth of bidding across periods and categories in this sale is notable, highlighted by the top lots spanning Old Master drawings, decorative arts, and manuscripts. In addition to the stellar result for the record breaking top lot by Leonardo da Vinci, the price realised for the remarkable Charles I inkstand attributed to silversmith Christiaen van Vianen of £1.9million ($2.7 / €2.3million) (estimate: £1–1.5million) reflects the museum quality nature of this work, which was previously on long term loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The new auction record established for an Isaac Newton manuscript £1,702,500 / $2,344,343 / €1,985,115 (estimate: £600,000–900,000) highlights that autograph scientific manuscripts by Newton are of the greatest rarity on the market. We are also pleased to have established new auction records for a meteorite and for furniture by the bronzier Ferdinand Barbedienne with the remarkable ‘Japonisme’ aquarium, which show the unique ability of the Exceptional Sale to bring record prices for ‘wow factor’ works of art.”

Old Masters Evening Sale
Christie’s, London, 8 July 2021

Lot 14: Angelica Kauffman, R.A., Group Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Smith-Stanley, Countess of Derby, with Her Infant Son Edward, later 13th Earl of Derby and Her Half-Sister, Lady Augusta Campbell, Playing the Harp, oil on canvas, 50 × 40 inches (127 × 102 cm). The painting sold for £562,500, just above it its low estimate. The lot essay acknowledges Bettina Baumgärtel and Wendy Wassyng Roworth for their help in cataloguing the painting.

The Old Masters Evening Sale (No. 20053) realised £45,083,250 / $62,079,635/ €52,567,070, selling 94% by value and 78% by lot. The top lot of the sale was Bernardo Bellotto’s View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi, which achieved £10,575,000 / $14,561,775 / €12,330,450 (estimate: £12–18million).

Clementine Sinclair, Head of the Old Masters Evening Sale, comments: “We are thrilled with the results of this Old Masters sale, which at £45million was the strongest evening sale since July 2016. Only two evening sales have exceeded this total over the past ten years. The prices realised for Bellotto’s majestic view of Verona and George de La Tour’s arresting image of Saint Andrew set new record prices for the artists at auction. The wealth of fresh material prompted competitive bidding with the exquisite cabinet picture by Frans van Mieris making more than four times the low estimate. All three works by female artists in the sale [Artemisia Gentileschi, Michaelina Wautier, and Angelica Kauffman] sold successfully, with two more than tripling their original low estimates. This evening was a real boost for the Old Masters market and underlines the continued demand for great works that are fresh to the market with exceptional provenance.”

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