W ith combined results surpassing the $100 million mark — fueled by a riveting competition for a rare Botticelli, an ancient Egyptian sculpture, and masterworks by several luminary women painters — the eight auctions comprising Masters Week 2022 signal healthy signs for the art market at the start of the year.
A late masterpiece by Botticelli reached the second-highest price for an Old Master painting at auction in the last 5 years
Sandro Botticelli’s Man of Sorrows realized $45.4 million in an unexpected three-way bidding war. Previously believed to be produced by the artist’s students, in 2009 the Städel Museum in Frankfurt reattributed it to Botticelli, in part due to technical analysis conducted by Sotheby’s. Man of Sorrows also becomes the second-highest sale price for a Botticelli following Young Man Holding a Roundel, which sold at Sotheby’s for $92.2 million last year.
To learn more about this exceptional painting, watch the video below.
The Dual Nature of Christ, Sandro Botticelli’s defining masterpiece Man of Sorrows
Paintings by four trailblazing women artists shattered estimates and set new records
The Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi — who headlines a traveling survey of Renaissance women painters opening next week at the Detroit Institute of the Arts — had two paintings in this auction, both of which are remarkable for featuring women protagonists and feminist messages. Her Portrait of a Seated Lady sold for $2.7 million, and her Susanna and the Elders for $2.1 million.
A painting by the Dutch still-life artist Rachel Ruysch featuring carnations, hibiscus, and morning glories tripled its high estimate to achieve $365,400. Meanwhile, both Anne Vallayer-Coster and Sophie Frémiet Rude reached new auction records when Still Life of Flowers in a Vase on a Table realized $1.8 million and The Death of Cenchirias, Son of Neptune and the Nymph Peirene realized $685,500, respectively.
Each of these magnificent artists was featured in a video produced by Sotheby’s. Learn more about the impact of their work by watching them, below.
Explore Incredible Works by Women Artists
An ancient Egyptian limestone sculpture sells for nearly $10 million
For the first time ever, a Masters auction included a work from antiquity. Dating to ancient Egypt’s late 5th dynasty (circa 2440–2355 B.C), this sculpture of a standing man was previously on view at both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. With a hammer price of $9.9 million, it nearly doubled its high estimate and landed in an American private foundation.
A Nazi-looted painting is restituted to its family after almost 80 years
In 1942, Nazis seized numerous works from renowned collector Jules Strauss’s elegant Parisian apartment. Decades later, his great-granddaughter Pauline Baer de Perignon tracked down works from his inimitable collection, including Nicolas de Largillière’s Portrait of a Lady as Pomona, which was exhibited by the Dresden State Art Collections in Germany. After its restitution to Strauss’s heirs, the work (also known as Madame de Parabère) was sold at auction on Thursday, where it found a new home for $1.23 million.
Sotheby's Talks | The Restitution of Nicolas de Largillière's 'Portrait of a Lady as Pomona
The sale, said George Wachter, Sotheby’s Co-Chairman of Old Master Paintings Worldwide, “continues the critically important efforts in reclaiming the histories of the art and lives irreparably damaged during the Nazi regime."
Fully ambidextrous, this Masters Week propels global market growth
Of the fifty-one lots within Master Paintings and Sculpture Part I, eight sold to in-person buyers and five sold online, with the rest coming in by phone. This continues Sotheby’s move toward “phygital” auctions with a global reach. The first sale alone included participants from thirty-two countries, particularly Russian-speaking countries and from Asia. With a $91 million total, Master Paintings and Sculpture Part I represents a 49% increase on the equivalent 2020 sale ($61.1 million) and 73% increase on 2019 ($52.7 million). It also recorded the highest number of new registrants to participate in an Old Masters sale.
All of which suggests the international art market is showing strong signs of recovery as we enter the third year of the global COVID-19 pandemic.