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.
A.C. Steland-Stief, Jan Asselijn, Amsterdam 1971, pp. 82, 162, no. 227, reproduced plate LVI, and under no. 225.
Please note the following corrected, and additional provenance and literature:
The sale called Destouches, Paris, was that of the late Alexandre-Louis Hersant Destouches, the correct year of his sale was 1794, not 1797, and the lot was No.131. The painting was bought by Michael Vauthier, on behalf of Peter Rainier.
It was bought by Baron James de Rothschild at the 1852 sale. It was seen by Sir Charles Eastlake as his No. 3, when he described it as Les deux pages: the entrance to a palace; a great part of the wall and foreground in shadow. (Sir Charles Eastlake, Ms diaries, Paris visit, 1860, in the Library of the National Gallery London. See Susanna Avery-Quash, The Travel Notebooks of Sir Charles Eastlake, 2 vols., The Walpole Society, London 2011, vol. II, pp.524-6.) and by Paul Lacroix in the same year, as his No. 20 (Paul Lacroix, Annuaire des Artistes et des Amateurs, (Paris 1860) Baron James de Rothschild, rue Laffitte, pp.166-167).
Please note that this work is displayed in a French, Louis XIV, carved and gilded frame with acanthus leaf sight moulding, a sanded frieze, acanthus leaf and strapwork ornament on a cross hatched gesso ground and a dentil back moulding. This frame has been kindly lent to us by Arnold Wiggins & Sons. Should you wish to purchase this frame please contact the Old Master Paintings department.
Please note that this work is displayed in a frame kindly lent to us by Tanous Fine Art Frames. Should you wish to purchase this frame please contact the Old Master Paintings department
Please note that this work is displayed in a reproduction British early 18th century cabinetmaker's frame in ebonised pearwood, kindly lent to us by Paul Mitchell Ltd. Should you wish to purchase this frame please contact the Old Master Paintings department
Please note that the measurements for this lot are as follows: 50.4 by 39.6 cm.; 19 7/8 by 15 5/8 in.
Please note the following additional cataloguing information including amended recent provenance:
Princess Ida Louise Labia (died 1961);
By whose Heirs sold, London, Sotheby's, 27 November, 1963 (not 27 March 1963 as stated in the catalogue), lot 24, sold for £7,000 to Betts;
With Galerie Finck, Brussels;
With Anthony Speelman, London, by 1975 (from whom stolen in August 1976, but recovered and returned in summer 1977);
With David Koetser, Zurich, by April 1978, from whom acquired by the late owners in 1979.
M. Klinge, Adriaen Brouwer - David Teniers the Younger, exhibition catalogue, New York & Maastricht 1982, p. 23, no. 17, reproduced.
We are grateful to Margret Klinge for her help. Dr Klinge sought the loan of this picture for the section on David Teniers the Younger which she curated in the exhibition Brueghel. Une dynastie de peintres held in Brussels in 1980 (see also lot 3 in this sale).
We are most grateful to Professor David Ekserdjian for pointing out that the butterfly is in fact a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and not a Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) as stated in the catalogue. The Painted Lady is a migrant, found in Europe only in Summer, and especially abundant in August, when peaches also ripen. Unlike most other still life painters, Coorte was remarkably consistent in his paintings in only including together fruit, vegetables, nuts and insects that are specific to a particular time of the year.