Sotheby's Old Master Drawings sale kicked off Masters Week on 28 January 2015, totalling $5,347,940. Sale highlights included works by Francesco Guardi, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo and Giovanni Francesco Barbieri. Federico Barocci’s Study Of The Head Of A Young Lady Looking Down sold for $221,000 (est. $50/70,000). The top lot, a Jacques-Louis David study for The Intervention of the Sabine Women, soared to $401,000, over six times its high estimate of $60,000. Setting a record for a work on paper by the artist at auction, Henry Fuseli’s study for The Three Witches Appear before Macbeth and Banquo fetched $281,000 (est. $60/80,000).
Covering all aspects of Western European drawing from the 15th to the mid-19th century, this is one of the deepest, richest sales for years in this category. Two spectacular groups of 18th-century drawings, one Italian the other predominantly French, come to sale from two notable private collections. The first consists of seven outstanding Venetian drawings, by Guardi, Tiepolo and Zuccarelli, which were part of the famous collection of the Duc de Talleyrand, formed in the early 20th century, and have not been seen on the market since then. The second group is much larger: more than 50 18th- and early 19th-century French drawings, acquired over more than four decades, and including fine groups of drawings by the leading masters of the period - Watteau, Fragonard, Boucher and David – many of them relating to important commissions, as well as a wide range of superb drawings by their most important contemporaries.
But there are also extraordinary 16th-century treasures, such as the beautiful head study by Barocci, a newly-discovered work of the highest quality from the workshop of early German master Hans Baldung, and an extremely rare (and again newly discovered) figure study by the Milanese master, Sodoma, who worked alongside Leonardo at the very beginning of the century. Perhaps the most notable 17th-century highlights are a charming study of a putto by Rubens, dating from circa 1618, and a beautiful female nude, drawn by Rembrandt’s only significant pupil during his last years, Aert de Gelder.
The sale is rounded off with a group of fine drawings from the estate of legendary dealer and great drawings connoisseur Jan Krugier, and a selection of top early 19th-century French drawings, with notable series of works by both David and Géricault.