This highly successful sale realised a total of £4.65 million / $7.18 million (pre-sale estimate £3.56-4.99 million). The top price of the day was the £725,000 paid for the remarkable late drawing by Goya, a sheet from the artist’s final ‘Private Album’, followed by £365,000 for the superb gouache by Joris Hoefnagel. The latter was one of no fewer than 15 artist’s records set during this sale.
Others included £341,000 paid by the Getty Museum for the superb watercolour of Venice, by Richard Parkes Bonington, and the £233,000 achieved for Daniel Gardner’s majestic Portrait of Mary Whitbread, later Lady Grey. Other major successes included the £155,000 achieved, against an estimate of £20,000-30,000, for the dramatic, large figure study by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon. The outstanding group of six drawings by Menzel, from the Eberstadt Collection, were also the subject of spirited competition, realising a total of £297,500 (against pre-sale estimates of £82,000-133,000).
Throughout the sale, there was lively bidding from a crowded, animated room, and also on the telephones and online, with bids coming from no fewer than 22 countries around the world, demonstrating once more the increasingly global nature of this very active market.
A deep, rich and varied sale full of outstanding material that has not been seen on the market in decades, this summer’s Old Master and British Drawings auction contains highlights that span nearly four centuries of the draughtsman’s art. These begin with an astonishing, almost life-size modello in watercolour and gouache on vellum for a painted portrait of Ottheinrich von der Pfalz, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, which was executed around 1537 by the Nuremberg artist Peter Gertner. Then, dating from 1571, comes a superb allegorical ‘cabinet miniature’ by Joris Hoefnagel, the artist’s earliest known work of this type, which has been on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, since 1991. No Hoefnagel of comparable importance has been offered at auction in modern times.
Also dating from the late 16th century are the three outstanding drawings by the extremely rare German-born master Johann Rottenhammer, one of the leading artists at the Prague court of the Emperor Rudolf II. The 17th and 18th centuries are comprehensively represented, across the Italian, French and Dutch schools, by, for example, a fine, newly identified drawing by Salvator Rosa, a major figure study by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, and a good group of Dutch drawings from the collection of Henry and June (‘Jimmy’) Weldon, which includes an excellent and rare work by Philips Wouwerman. In the area of English drawings and watercolours, the star is a superb rediscovered watercolour of Venice by Richard Parks Bonington, but there are also very good drawings by Fuseli, Gainsborough and Turner (not least a timely view of the battlefield at Waterloo). Finally, we are delighted to present an exceptional series of six studies by Adolf von Menzel, all coming for sale from the Eberstadt collection. With outstanding drawings of all periods, schools, techniques, and functions, this sale should prove enthralling to anyone interested in the process of artistic creation.