The Paris season’s final sale was a remarkable success reaching a total of €8.2 million, the highest sale total achieved for the category in the last 20 years in France. This result is testament to the refined choice of rare artists and powerful, high-quality pieces on offer.
The afternoon’s highest price went to a Caravaggesque portrayal of Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy by Artemisia Gentileschi, which was contested by seven bidders and reached €865,500, a world auction record for the artist. This Baroque work, hidden from view for 80 years and in excellent condition, was rediscovered by the Paris Old Master Department in a historic collection from the south of France. Pierre Etienne, Head of Old Master Paintings & Drawings said: ‘it was a great thrill to rediscover a top-level work by such an exciting artist. The market saluted this painting of tremendous importance with an international-level price.’
Another spectacular bidding war saw three bidders compete for Paul-César Helleu’s Impressionistic Portrait of Madame Helleu with an Umbrella(c.1899) from the Olivier Sainsère Collection, a magnificent female portrait that obtained €793,500, the second-highest price for a work by the artist and a record for Helleu in France. Pascale Pavageau, Head of 19th Century Paintings & Drawings said: ‘The incredible price obtained for this masterpiece by Paul-Cesar Helleu rewards a rare work in a perfect state of preservation – a veritable Impressionist showpiece.’
Five other world records were recorded during this sale for the artists Frans Pourbus, Le Cavalier d’Arpin, Louis Dupré, Miguel Jacinto Meléndez and Carlo Fornara.
Continuing in the tradition of past years, the Old Master and 19th century sale in Paris focuses on rediscoveries. Among the top lots, we are delighted to offer Mary Magdalene in ecstasy, an extremely rare work by the important Italian 17th-century baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi. It is now set to re-emerge in public after being hidden from view for 80 years. This powerful painting will be surrounded by many other great works such as a pair of François Boucher paintings from the collection of the Maréchal Berthier, Prince of Wagram. These two pictures have remained undiscovered on the walls of the descendants of Berthier for two centuries.
A fantastic equestrian portrait by Gericault, probably Aly, one of Napoleon’s most famous horses, dating from around 1812, will be one of the highlights of the 19th-century section of the sale. Connoisseurs will also appreciate two atmospheric marine scenes by Louis-Philippe Crépin.
The Impressionist period will be represented by a lovely portrait of aYoung model by Federico Zandomeneghi and the wonderful Portrait of Madame Helleu with an umbrella by Paul Cesar Helleu, both coming from important private collections.