What felt at instances like a four-act play with intermissions, Sotheby’s Outdated Masters marathon in New York on Thursday (26 January) racked up $74.5m ($89.7m with charges), setting a report with the restituted cowl lot. Mixed pre-sale estimates for the 124 heaps supplied throughout the 4 morning and afternoon gross sales ranged from $77.5m to $111.9m, maybe an excessively formidable expectation given the prevailing temper available in the market. Ten heaps unfold throughout the gross sales got here backed by home ensures and/or irrevocable bids (often known as third-party ensures). Sooner or later prior, Christie’s had come up equally in need of its pre-sale estimate, clocking $62.7m (together with charges) from its two marquee auctions.
The multi-sale motion started with a white-glove end result for ten Baroque works that had belonged to divorcing collectors Mark Fisch and Rachel Davidson. The group was led by Peter Paul Rubens’s gory and dramatic Salome introduced with the top of Saint John the Baptist (1609), which fetched the season-high $23.5m ($26.9m with charges), simply shy of its $25m low estimate. It final offered at public sale at Sotheby’s New York in January 1998 for $5.5m.
The big-scale Orazio Gentileschi composition Penitent Saint Mary Magdalene, that includes her partially undressed determine reclining partly on an open ebook, hammered at its low estimate of $4m. With charges the value got here to $4.8m.
The Rubens got here to market backed by an irrevocable bid andthe Gentileschi was backed by a assure.
A brief break adopted the sold-out Fisch Davidson assortment public sale earlier than the subsequent tranche of choices, a bunch of Dutch photos that had belonged to the late Seattle collector Theiline Scheumann. These works introduced extra blended outcomes, led by Frans van Mieris the Elder’s illuminating A younger girl sealing a letter by candlelight (1667), which bested its excessive estimate of $2m to hammer for $2.2m ($2.7m with charges).
One other winner was Jan van der Heyden’s beautiful and crisply lit An imaginary view of a quiet canal in Amsterdam, which introduced $1m ($1.2m with charges) in opposition to a pre-sale estimate of $1m to $1.5m.
One other espresso break preceded the principle motion, the Grasp Work Half I sale, which had a complete pre-sale estimate of $23m to $33.9m (earlier than charges). The sale noticed numerous casualties blended in with transient prospers of public sale fever, finally tallying a sell-through charge of simply 60.4% by lot.
A small jewel of a nativity scene, a composition executed in opposition to a golden floor by the Florentine Grasp of the Spinola Annunciation, offered for its low estimate of $2m ($2.4m with charges). That end result was ok to set a brand new public sale report for the 14th-century painter’s work.
Italian works stood out among the many greater than 50 heaps within the sale, with Annibale Carracci’s intense Portrait of a person with a moustache and beard, bust size (1587-90) bringing in $120,000 ($151,200 with charges) in opposition to an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000, and the beautiful, lately rediscovered and restituted cowl lot, Bronzino’s Portrait of a younger man with a quill and a sheet of paper, probably a self-portrait of the artist (round 1527) almost doubling its excessive estimate of $5m to attaining a record-setting $9m ($10.6m with charges).
At the least 4 bidders chased the Bronzino portrait, together with an internet underbidder. The prized lot went to a so-far unidentified man seated within the saleroom. It surpassed Portrait of a younger man with a ebook, which offered at Christie’s New York in January 2015 for $9.1m with charges.
The portrait had languished, unidentified for many years in a German authorities workplace constructing earlier than it was restituted to the property of Gertrude (Trudy) Sommer, the daughter of the unique proprietor, Ilsa Hesselberger, in 2021. Hesselberger had acquired the portray in 1927, however her artwork assortment and properties have been confiscated by the Nazis and he or she perished in a focus camp at age 51 in 1941. All the web proceeds from its sale will profit charities, together with Selfhelp Group Companies.
One other of the sale’s star heaps, Anthony van Dyck’s transferring depiction, A examine for Saint Jerome, in oil on canvas laid on panel and that includes the bearded saint nude and seated with outstretched arms, introduced $2.5m ($3m with charges), firmly in keeping with its $2m to $3m estimate. It got here to market backed by a third-party assure.
Additionally in a spiritual vein, Titian’s gloomy but dramatic Ecce Homo, depicting a sure Christ with the crown of thorns and a helmeted guard stationed beside him, offered for $1.7m ($2.1m with charges) in opposition to a pre-sale estimate of $1.5m to $2m. It final offered as “Studio of Titian” and titled Christ because the Man of Sorrows at Christie’s New York in October 2019 for $206,250 with charges. Within the interval it was cleaned and upgraded to autograph standing.
Reflecting a lighter temper, Pieter Brueghel the Youthful’s multi-figured Peasant marriage ceremony procession (1630), together with a bagpipe participant, realised $1.8m ($2.2m with charges), simply shy of its $2m low estimate.
Whereas patrons’ appetites appeared much less peckish at instances, starvation did seem for the likes of Peter Lely’s Portrait of the Hon. Mrs. Lucy Loftus, which sped previous its $300,000 excessive estimate to hammer at $1.2m ($1.5m with charges).
The day concluded within the afternoon with the 49-lot sale “Bouguereau and His Circle: Then and Now,” which juxtaposed works by the Nineteenth-century French tutorial painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau and his contemporaries with new work in a equally classical, representational vein. Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau’s candy The Little Mom made $320,000 hammer ($403,200) with charges in opposition to its $300,000 to $500,000 estimate.
Sotheby’s Masters Week gross sales proceed on Friday, when Christie’s will likewise wrap up most of its Traditional Week auctions.