This July’s Evening sale is led by a rediscovered chef d’oeuvre by Claude-Joseph Vernet of his home town, Avignon. Vernet painted the work in the summer of 1756 during a recuperative period half way through his great Ports of France project for the King. Exceptionally, the sale includes two paintings by El Greco: a monumental Crucifixion from the descendants of the painter Ignacio Zuloaga, and an intimate devotional work of exceptional quality depicting St. Dominic in prayer, consigned from the collection of the late Dr Gustav Rau. Also from the late Dr Rau’s collection is a magnificent set of six detached frescoes by Gian Domenico Tiepolo depicting important episodes from the history of the Venetian da Porto family. Both the Tiepolos and the El Greco are being sold to benefit the Foundation of the German Committee for UNICEF – to support the children of the world.
An unprecedented level of participation from new markets propelled Sotheby’s London Evening Sale of Old Master & British Paintings to £35,048,000. Collectors from 33 countries took part in the sale with record numbers from Asia and the Middle East. More than 400 years since El Greco executed Saint Dominic in Prayer in early 17th-century Toledo, bidders from new markets battled tenaciously for this powerfully expressive work which was appearing at auction for the first time. They drove the price to £9,154,500 (est. £3-5million), a new record for a Spanish Old Master and the highest price across London’s Old Masters sales this week.
In total, 8 auction records tumbled tonight, including that for Claude-Joseph Vernet, whose outstanding View of Avignon from the right bank of the Rhône outstripped pre-sale expectations to realise £5,346,500 (est. £3-5million). A new auction record for a female Old Master artist was also established when Rachel Ruysch’s Still Life of Roses from 1710 achieved £1,650,000 (est. £1-1.5million).