Sotheby’s Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art Department brings together the finest drawings, watercolours and oil paintings from a wide selection of artists from the mid-19th century to the early 20th. Our long-standing relationships with collectors and specialists, together with our knowledge and experience have resulted in high-profile international auctions and world-record achievements.
Sotheby’s has dominated the Victorian market in recent years, achieving the two highest prices at auction for Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s The Finding of Moses, which sold for almost $36 million, more than ten times its pre-sale estimate, and Alma-Tadema’s Antony and Cleopatra, which sold for just over $29 million. In addition, record breaking prices have been achieved for Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s chalk drawing Proserpine (£3,274,500) and watercolour Venus Verticordia (£2,882,500). We are also proud to hold record breaking results for British Impressionist artists Philip Wilson Steer, Dame Laura Knight, Sir Alfred Munnings and Sir George Clausen.
Sotheby’s sales continue to reflect the strong interest in works by British artists, with established collectors competing with new buyers and bidders from all four corners of the globe. Our July 2016 sale included many rediscoveries and the excitement this generated created strong bidding, resulting in 60% of the lots selling for above their high estimates. Both Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s study of Marie Stillman for A Vision of Fiametta (sold for £245,000), and Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ monumental watercolour If Hope were not, Heart Should Break (sold for £329,000), were among the highlights of the sale, each achieving three times their presale estimates. Following the success of our July sale, we were delighted with the results of our December Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art auction. The stand-out lots were Sir George Clausen’s rediscovered The Bird’s Nest, which sold for £425,750 and Henry Herbert La Thangue’s The Farm Pond, which made £284,750. Victorian paintings also fared well, with John Atkinson Grimshaw’s unique beach scene A Summer Phantasy selling for £278,750 and John MacVicar Anderson’s majestic view of the Palace of Westminster achieving £230,750 – three times the previous auction record for the artist.
Sotheby’s Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art are held twice a year in London in July and December.