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    Friday, December 9th, 2022

    Led by Hans Holbein the Younger and Workshop there was five new records at Christie’s Old Masters evening sale in London last night. The auction brought in £13.1 million and the Holbein made £1,222,000. Records were also established for Jacob Savery the Elder (£544,400), Antonio Stom called Il Tonino (£138,600), Barnaba Agocchiari called Barnaba da Modena (£882,000) and Sebastiano Conca (£378,000) in a sale which attracted registered bidders from 15 countries and four continents.

    Leading the sale was Jean-François de Troy’s tableaux de mode Reading Party which achieved £2,922,000 bringing the combined total for the Collection of Lord and Lady Weinstock to £8,082,595 and Anthony van Dyck’s Portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria  which achieved £2,442,000. There was strong competitive bidding throughout and 33% of lots sold above the estimate.


    Friday, June 3rd, 2022
    Roses, lilies, an iris and other flowers in an earthenware vase. UPDATE: THIS MADE $1.5 million

     Old Master paintings, sculptures, and antiquities will come under the hammer at two live auctions at Christie’s in New York on June 9 and 10 and an online sale which runs to June 16. On 9 June, Old Masters | New Perspectives: Masterworks from the Alana Collection, offers one of the most important groups of Italian Renaissance works to come to market in a generation on June 9. On the following day the Old Masters sale features works by Northern Masters, women artists, and two pictures subject to restitution to the heirs of their owners. For the first time, Christie’s is offering  an Old Masters sale entirely without reserve online. 

    (See post on for April 15, 2022)


    Wednesday, July 7th, 2021

    The Old Masters evening sale takes place at Sotheby’s in London at 6 pm today. Here is a sneak preview of the some the highlights:


    Sunday, July 4th, 2021
    Hugh Douglas Hamilton
    Triple portrait of Emma, Lady Hamilton (1765–1815), as the three Muses (£400,000-600,000). UPDATE: THIS MADE £500,000 AT HAMMER

    This triple portrait by the Dublin artist Hugh Douglas Hamilton of Emma, Lady Hamilton, as the Three Muses comes up at Sotheby’s Old Master’s evening sale in London on July 7. A celebrated model, entertainer and artist’s muse; famous for her ‘Attitudes’ and her creative collaboration with international artists, particularly George Romney; her marriage to the great diplomat, antiquarian and collector Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy to Naples; and her relationship with Admiral Lord Nelson, the ‘Nation’s Hero’; Emma, Lady Hamilton was a cultural icon and European celebrity in the early nineteenth century. Born Amy Lyon, the daughter of a blacksmith from Cheshire, and later changing her name to Emma Hart, the young girl who was to become Lady Hamilton began her ascent as an actresses’ maid at the Drury Lane Theatre. 

    The auction includes an impressive group of early Netherlandish paintings from a Spanish private collection; masterpieces by some of the finest artists of the late 16th and 17th centuries, such as Jan Brueghel the Elder, Balthasar van der Ast and Ambrosius Bosschaert and a particularly strong offering of British works from private collections, many fresh to the market.


    Monday, January 11th, 2021

    Here is a video on the highest value Masters Week in Sotheby’s history from January 22-30 in New York. It is comprised of seven sales of paintings, drawings, and sculpture including important works spanning across four centuries and two distinct, impressive single owner collections formed by Dr. John O’Brien and Hester Diamond. 


    Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

    There was a new auction record for the Siennese painter Giovanni di Paolo at Christie’s Old Masters evening sale in London on December 3. Saint Clare rescuing the shipwrecked made £5.3 million in an auction that brought in £24.2 million and attracted bidders from 22 countries across four continents.

    Clementine Sinclair, head of the sale said:  “The Evening sale achieved the highest ever percentage sold by lot for a London Old Masters sale at 86% and was 94% sold by value, making it one of the most successful auctions in recent years. This is a testament to the strength and depth in the market for material that is fresh and well-priced. The sale was led by the two exceptional predella panels by Giovanni di Paolo, recently restituted to the heirs of Harry Fuld, which set a new auction record for the artist and made a combined total of £8.9 million. The sale also included an important group of still lifes, with examples by Ambrosius Bosschaert, Jan Breughel the Elder, Daniel Seghers and Abraham Mignon, which was 100% sold and set a new artist record for a work by Seghers. There was cross category interest and buying, underlining the success of combining Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture.” 

    Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c. 1399-1482) Saint Clare rescuing the shipwrecked


    Monday, March 19th, 2018

    Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) – Portrait of a bearded Venetian nobleman, bust length.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £5,416,400

    A rare portrait by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) will spearhead Sotheby’s Old Masters sale in London on July 4. Unseen on the market for 60 years, this remarkable depiction of a Venetian Nobleman was almost certainly cherished by the artist who kept it until his death in 1640. Acquired by the great Dutch collector Hans Wetzlar in the early 1950’s it has remained in the possession of his descendants ever since.

    Painter, designer, print-maker, sculptor, architect, diplomat, peace-treaty broker, at the helm of the largest studio of his time, Rubens was the first great artist-collector in Northern Europe and the fact that he almost certainly owned the present portrait until his death is testament to its importance.

    George Gordon, Worldwide Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Department, said: “Rubens is known as the “Prince of the painters” and his legacy is far reaching. His timeless modernity and immediacy is evident in this painting which encapsulates several strands of his creative, emotional and intellectual life. With its bravura brushwork which shows no hint of hesitancy, this is a portrait of a man as real to us as he was in the artist’s mind. Almost 400 years after being created, this is a painting that gives the viewer immense pleasure, and one in which we can feel Rubens’ own joy in creating it.”

    Painted in the 1620’s this is one of only a few portraits by the artist to come on the market in recent years. It is estimated in the region of £3 million.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £5,416,400


    Sunday, December 18th, 2016

    SIR PETER PAUL RUBENS (Seigen 1577-1640 Antwerp), Lot and his Daughters, circa 1613-1614. Courtesy CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2016

    THE MOST EXPENSIVE PAINTING SOLD IN EUROPE THIS YEAR – SIR PETER PAUL RUBENS (Seigen 1577-1640 Antwerp), Lot and his Daughters, circa 1613-1614 made £44.9 million. Courtesy CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

    Old Master sales at Christie’s in 2016 came to £152 million, doubling the auction sales total of 2015.  Classic Week, which ended in London on December 15, achieved a total of £47.8 million. This was a dedicated series of sales spanning Old Master Paintings, Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Antiquities, Japanese Art and private collections.  There was global participation with more than 1,200 registered bidders from 53 countries and substantial cross category buying. The entire classic week series achieved $272.3 million in 2016.

    Karl Hermanns, Global Managing Director, Old Master, 19th Century, Russian Art, said: “Classic Week in December concludes an outstanding year for the classical arts at Christie’s. Following its launch in April in New York and in July in London the new Classic Weeks series, complementing Christie’s innovative 20th-century weeks, have achieved for our clients significantly increased sales, cross-category bidders and new bidders. We are particularly encouraged by the number of 20th-century clients and Asian collectors participating in these sale. Classic Week auction sales were led by the masterpiece by Rubens, ‘Lot and his Daughters’, which achieved £44.9 million, the highest auction price for any work of art sold in Europe in 2016. Old Master and Victorian pictures also sold well alongside the best modern and contemporary art in the Defining British Art sale, the flagship event of Christie’s 250th anniversary. Christie’s also led the market in Old Master private sales, led by the historic sale of Rembrandt portraits, which sold to the French and Dutch states. Our specialists will continue to innovate and to inspire collectors with curated sales weeks of the highest quality. We look forward to hosting the next Classic Weeks in New York in April 2017 and in London in July 2017.”


    Thursday, January 28th, 2016

    Old Master paintings and drawings from the collection of Alfred Taubman brought in $24.1 million at Sotheby’s in New York last night.  The top was was Valentin de Boulogne’s The Crowning with Thorns  which sold for $5.2 million and set one of  six new artist records.  Raphael’s Portrait of Valerio Belli – Just 4¾” in Diameter – made $3.3 million as did The Blue Page, Thomas Gainsborough’s portrait of his nephew. The annual Masters Week auctions in New York are continuing.  All images courtesy Sotheby’s. (See post on for November 5, 2015).

    Valentin de Boulogne The Crowning with Thorns

    Valentin de Boulogne
    The Crowning with Thorns

    Bernardo Bellotto - Venice, the Grand Canal looking east from the Campo di San Vio

    Bernardo Bellotto – Venice, the Grand Canal looking east from the Campo di San Vio sold for $3.01 million

    Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphael Profile Portrait of Valerio Belli, Bust Length, Facing Left

    Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphael
    Profile Portrait of Valerio Belli, Bust Length, Facing Left

    Thomas Gainsborough - The Blue Page.

    Thomas Gainsborough – The Blue Page.



    Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

    Francesco Guardi's Venetian masterpiece made £26,697,250. (Click on image to enlarge)

    Francesco Guardi’s monumental masterpiece Venice, a View of the Rialto Bridge, Looking North, from the Fondamenta del Carbon made £26,697,250 at Sotheby’s on July 6.  This was a record as the second highest price paid for any Old Master painting at auction, a record for a Venetian view painting at auction and a record for Guardi.   It was bought by an anonymous bidder in a sale which achieved a total of  £47,640,900.

    Correggio - Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist made £3,625,250. (Click to enlarge)

    There were artist records for seven other paintings.  Hans Schäufelein double-sided, tempera and oil altarpiece panel, The Dormition of the Virgin, realised £2,729,250;  Madonna and child with the infant Saint John the Baptist by Antonio Allegri, better known as Correggio made £3,625,250; John de Critz the Elder oil on panel Portrait of James I made £199,250; Jacob Knyff’s painting Charles II and James, Duke of York, on board H.M.S. Triumph, with three royal yachts off Dover made £169,250; Francesco de Michele Triptych: Central panel: Saint Gregory the Great: left wing: Saint Catherine of Alexandria: right wing: Saint Jerome made £241,250;  Vittore Ghislandi called Fra G algario Portrait of a young man in a green tunic made £325,250 and Anthonie Verstraelen A winter landscape with figures skating on a frozen river beside a village made £481,250.

    Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s Portrait of a Carmelite monk, head and shoulders made £713,250 and A Bearded Man with Hands Raised by Van Dyck made £457,250.  John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral From The Meadows made £657,250.
    A total of 50 of the 73 lots on offer found buyers in a sale that was sold  68.5% by lot and 91.6% by value.

    John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows made £657,250. (click to enlarge).

    The auction shot with Henry Wyndham selling the Guardi.

    The previous highest price for a Venetian view painting was £18.6 million for Canaletto’s Venice – The Grand Canal from Palazzo Balbi, at Sotheby’s London in July 2005.  The previous auction record for a monumental view painting by Francesco Guardi was  £9,889,937 at Sotheby’s in Monaco in 1989.

    (All images copyright Sotheby’s)  (See posts for June 21, June 19 and February 26.)