Our Evening Sale Of Old Master & British Paintings soared above estimate to £54 million (€68.6 million/ $84.4 million), confirming Sotheby’s long-held leadership in the category. One of the last great Turner masterpieces remaining in private hands set a world auction record for the artist, selling for a staggering £30.3 million/ $47.4 million/ €38.6 million (est. £15-20m / $24.1-32.1m / €19-25.3m). This result also represents the highest price at auction for any pre-20th century British artist and the second highest price for any work ever sold in the Old Master and British Paintings category. Four bidders competed for the work, driving the work high above its pre-sale estimate. The sale coincided with a wider moment of Turner mania, with the groundbreaking exhibition of “Late Turner” at the Tate and Mike Leigh’s sensational “Mr Turner”.
This December’s Evening sale of Old Master and British Paintings will be led one of the greatest masterpieces of British art left in private hands, J.M.W. Turner’s Rome, from Mount Aventine. Startlingly well preserved, it is one of two views of Rome commissioned by one of Turner's most important patrons, the artist's close friend Hugh Andrew Johnstone Munro of Novar (1797-1864). Following Munro’s death the painting was acquired at the sale of his collection in 1878 by Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847-1929), later Prime Minister of Great Britain. The picture has remained in the Rosebery collection ever since and comes to the market in December for only the second time since it was painted in 1835. Joining it is a quintessential view of St. Mark’s Square in Venice by Canaletto: from the artist’s best period, circa 1730, it has not been seen in public since 1857. A stellar group of Dutch and Flemish paintings is led by Adriaen Coorte’s extraordinary Three peaches on a stone ledge, and Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s unique Peasants dancing. Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Faun family completes a remarkably diverse line-up of fresh-to-the-market works whose sale will bring to an end a record-breaking year for Old Master Paintings.