The European Sculpture and Works of Art Department is one of the broadest collecting categories at Sotheby’s. This has never more been apparent than in our upcoming sale on 2 July, which will offer works of extremely fine quality from across an extraordinary range of dates, countries and materials. Particularly notable are two bronzes: one from 16th century Italy, and the other 19th century France. The Italian bronze, which depicts a classical nymph, beautiful in her form and unashamed in her nudity, is an outstanding example of Renaissance sculpture. The French bronze of Roger and Angelica on the Hippogriff is modelled by distinguished sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye and has been hailed as the most ingenious work in modern art.
We also have the privilege of offering works from the prestigious Rau Collection this July. Renowned philanthropist Dr Gustav Rau dedicated his life to helping children in third world countries. His final contribution to the cause was to bequeath his extraordinary art collection to it: the works from the Rau Collection in our salerooms are sold to benefit UNICEF. Among them is an exquisite French ivory triptych dating to the early fourteenth century, depicting the life of the Virgin. Carved in remarkably sensitive and finite detail, the work is a masterpiece of Gothic craftsmanship. Further highlights include a South German Corpus Christi by Riemenschneider, from the end of the 15th century, and a striking French marble Ours Blanc by Pompon, from the turn of the 20th century.
Selected highlights will be on view during the 12-21: A Millennium of Masterworks exhibition from 7 to 11 June.
Yesterday’s London sale of European Sculpture & Works of Art: Medieval to Modern realised £8,203,700 ($12,487,672), one of the highest totals for a Sotheby’s auction in this category, against a pre-sale estimate of £7,062,000 – 10,199,500 ($10,749,776 – 15,525,679). The sale was 83.7% sold by value and 59.5% sold by lot.
The top lot was The Gustav Rau Triptych, one of the most outstanding Gothic ivories surviving from the early 14th century, which sold for £2,770,500 ($4,217,255). Measuring 10½ by 10⅜ inches open, the triptych was undoubtedly commissioned for a patron of royal or near-royal status and used for personal devotion. The ivory headlined a group of sculptures from the Gustav Rau Collection, sold to benefit the German Committee for UNICEF.
Commenting on the sale results, Erik Bijzet, Head of Auction Sales, European Sculpture & Works of Art, said: “We are very pleased with the £8.2 million achieved for the sale, which is one of the highest totals for a Sotheby’s auction of European Sculpture & Works of Art. The demand for Medieval pieces continues to go from strength to strength, as demonstrated by the top two lots: The Gustav Rau Triptych, one of the most outstanding masterpieces of medieval sculpture ever to appear at auction, and the early, rare sculpture attributed to Tilman Riemenschneider. Forty-six pieces from the Gustav Rau Collection, sold to benefit the German Committee for UNICEF, realised £5,238,400, a fitting testament to the importance and quality of the works. Many of these pieces witnessed competitive bidding in the room and on the telephone. Overall, 48.6% of works sold achieving prices above the high estimate.”