Christie’s Summer 2021 edition of London Classic Week saw a spike in buyer numbers compared to the previous year, along with setting numerous price records, including a world record price for a piece from Leonardo Da Vinci and the same for a work by Bernardo Bellotto.
Christie’s Summer 2021 edition of London Classic Week concluded on 15 July, realising a combined total of £96,012,125 / $132,301,729 / €111,895,390, with 20% growth in new buyers and bidders vs comparable 2019 sales series. Comprising seven live auctions and two online-only sales, the strength of this result is a fitting tribute to the inspirational creativity and craftsmanship offered, from antiquity to the 20th century.
Karl Hermanns, Global Managing Director, Classic Art Group, commented: “We are thrilled to end Christie’s strong season with one of the most successful sets of Classic Art auctions in several years, even in the environment with travel still somewhat restricted. Christie’s remarkable market leadership in the last two weeks is testament to the strength that our Classic Art teams and global network have in market insight, relationships with established buyers and sellers, and ability to attract new buyers.”
A brief snapshot of the sale’s highlights:
The Old Masters Evening Sale realised £45,083,250 / $62,079,635 / €52,567,070, marking the strongest sale since July 2016, with only two others previously exceeding this total over the past ten years.
Selling 94% by value and 78% by lot, the quality, freshness and exceptional provenance of the works offered attracted registered bidders from 102 countries across four continents, including active participation from multiple museums, with the Frans Hals Museum acquiring A merry company by Dirck Hals and Dirck van Delen from Property of the Heirs of Jacob Lierens.
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, setting a new record price for the artist (estimate: £12,000,000-18,000,000). Further highlights included George de La Tour’s arresting image of Saint Andrew, which also set a record price for the artist at auction; the exquisite cabinet picture by Frans van Mieris achieved more than four times the low estimate, selling for £3,502,500 / $4,822,943 / €4,083,915.
The demand for female artists continues, with all three works by Artemisia Gentileschi, Angelica Kauffman and Michaelina Wautier setting the second-highest price for the respective artist, with two more than tripling their original low estimates.
The Exceptional Sale realised £19,537,500 / $26,903,138 / €22,780,725, selling 77% by lot and 85% by value. The sale was led by Head of a Bear by Leonardo da Vinci, which set a new world auction record for a drawing by the artist, selling for £8,857,500 / $12,196,778 / €10,327,845.
The remarkable Charles I inkstand attributed to silversmith Christiaen van Vianen set a world record price for 17th-century silver sold at auction and the second-highest price for English silver sold at auction, selling for £1,942,500 / $2,674,823 / €2,264,955 (estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000).
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, with further records also set for a meteorite and for furniture by the bronzier Ferdinand Barbedienne with the remarkable ‘Japonisme’ aquarium.
These two live-streamed evening sales on 8 July welcomed registered bidders across four continents and set 11 new world record prices at auction.
The B.J. Eastwood Collection: Important Sporting and Irish Pictures on 9 July realised £14,187,750 / $19,522,344 / €16,471,978, more than doubling its pre-sale low estimate, selling 94% by value and 93% by lot. The thirty lot collection represented BJ’s prized collection of the last 50 years which showcased his great love of equestrian painting and Irish art. With over 70% of works selling for over their high estimate, demand was equally strong for the Sporting and Irish pictures in the sale.
The leading lot was Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S. (1878-1959) The Vagabonds which realised £1,942,500 / $2,672,880 / €2,255,243 (estimate £700,000-1,000,000). A new artist record was set for a work by Paul Henry, R.H.A. (1876-1958) Mountains and Lake, Connemara, painted in 1934 which sold for £622,500 / $856,560 / €722,723 (estimate £120,000-180,000).
The British and European Art auction on 15 July realised £5,266,375 / $7,293,929 / €6,151,126, setting an artist record for Carlos Schwabe with his work on paper La Porte d’Or which sold for £225,000/ $311,625 / €262,800 and a record for a painting by the same artist with L’Idéal which sold for £93,750 / $129,844 / €109,500.
The top lot of the sale was the captivating Sir John Everett Millais, P.R.A. (British, 1829-1896), Nina, daughter of Frederick Lehmann, Esq. which sparked competitive bidding and sold for £500,000/ $692,500 / €584,000, more than doubling the pre-sale low estimate (estimate: £200,000 – 300,000).
Further highlights included the pastel Study of Alexa Wilding by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (British 1828-1882), which sold for £350,000/ $484,750 / €408,800, from the extraordinary group Pre-Raphaelites to Symbolists: Important Drawings & Paintings from The Collection of Hartmuth Jung. European works were led by Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898) Le Lion Amoureux (The Lion In Love), which realised £325,000 / $450,125 / €379,600.
Christie’s Valuable Books and Manuscripts auction on 14 July totalled £3,515,500 / $4,861,936 / €4,116,650. The top lot of the sale was the Caxton Cicero, (estimate: £250,000 – 300,000), which achieved £400,000 / $553,200 / €468,400.
Published exactly 540 years ago, it is the first work of classical antiquity ever printed in English by the first printer in England, William Caxton. Further highlights of the sale included Charles Darwin’s first edition On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (estimate: £100,000 / 150,000), which realised £325,000 / $449,475 / €380,575 and Shakespeare’s Third Folio (estimate: £80,000 – 120,000), which sold for £237,500 / $328,463 / €278,112. The Third Folio is the first complete edition of the plays of Shakespeare and the rarest of the four Folios.
Christie’s Antiquities auction on 7 July totalled £2,549,875 / $3,504,211 / €2,960,411, achieving sell-through rates of 80% by lot and 82% by value. The top lot of the sale was an Amlash Pottery Female Figure (Iran, circa early 1st millennium B.C., estimate: £10,000 – 15,000), which realised £312,500 / $430,937 / €364,063, establishing a world auction record for an Amalsh pottery figure.
Further leading lots included a Greek Bronze Helmet of Corinthian Type (Archaic Period, circa mid-6th century B.C., estimate: £40,000 – 60,000), which achieved £200,000 / $275,800 / €233,000 and an Irish Bronze Side-Blow Horn (late Bronze Age, circa 8th-7th century B.C., estimate: £30,000 – 50,000), which realised £162,500 / $224,087 / €189,313.
The sales series also presented a broad array of stellar works across Old Master and British Drawings and Watercolours, including a Fine Collection of Old Master Prints realised £3,052,375 / $4,236,697/ €3,559,069 and established new record prices for works by Guercino and Ter Borch; Old Master Paintings & Sculpture Online achieved £2,190,500 / $3,014,128 / €2,543,171 and set two new record prices for works by Lucas van Uden and Andrea Bianchi, Il Vespino; The Collection of Rita Espirito Santo and Three Private European Collections which realised £680,500 / $944,534 / €794,824.
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