Sotheby’s London Old Master & British Painting Evening Sale soared over estimate to realise £68.3M / $117.1M / €85.9M, the highest ever total for such a sale at Sotheby’s London. The top lot of the night was George Stubbs’ Tygers at play, which soldto an Asian collector for £7.7m.
Discussing the auction, Alex Bell, Joint International Head and Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department said: “This evening’s results set a record for an Old Master and British Paintings Evening sale at Sotheby’s London and eclipsed our landmark 2002 total of £67.58 million. With 17 auction records and unprecedented international participation, we saw the market at its best. The prestigious aristocratic and private collections that constituted the core of tonight’s sale were the secret of this success. Having remained in the same collections for centuries, most of the works carried the imprimatur of the greatest art patrons of the day, such as the Dukes of Northumberland and the Earls of Warwick and bore witness to the discerning eye of some of the most important collectors of the 20th century, including Baron Coppée and Barbara Piasecka Johnson”.
Four extraordinary private collections and one of George Stubbs’ most loved masterpieces, Tygers at Play, lead this July’s sale of Old Master and British Paintings.
From the collection of the Dukes of Northumberland at Alnwick Castle and Syon House are Jan Brueghel the Elder’s poetic Paradise landscape, amongst the finest Brueghels to come to the market in a generation, and Giovanni da Rimini’s epoch-defining leaf from a diptych, painted in circa 1300-05, depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin and other saints.
The Coppée collection, put together by Baron Coppée in the 1920s, is as renowned for the extraordinary quality and importance of the three Pieter Brueghel the Youngers that it incorporates, each perhaps the best version of its type, as it is for the encyclopedic nature of the Flemish art of the 16th and 17th centuries that it contains.
Barbara Piasecka Johnson was one of the great collectors of our time and from her estate come three highly important Florentine Early Renaissance drawings: one the only drawing by Botticelli to be sold at auction for over 100 years, and two drapery studies from the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio, both traditionally believed to be by the young Leonardo da Vinci. Also from the estate is the most significant Italian Carravaggesque painting to come to the open market for several decades, Bartolommeo Cavarozzi’s Sacrifice of Isaac.
Seven impressive portraits come from the collection of the Earls of Warwick, each of them a masterpiece of its kind. They are led by George Romney’s powerful portrait of Edward Wortley Montagu, often considered the artist’s greatest work, and a truly wonderful example of northern High Renaissance portraiture by Jan van Hemessen.
The sale also includes a vivacious sketch of the Annunciation by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, a monumental rediscovered panoramic landscape by Hendrick Avercamp, Thomas Gainsborough’s large and animated Cottage Door and several other masterworks, both well-known and rediscovered.
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