Christie’s, London, presented their 19th century painting sale on the 14th and as I have said in the past, what a difference one painting can make! Taking the top spot here was a preparatory study for Eugene Delacroix’s famous painting Le 28 juillet – la liberte guidant le peuple, 1830 which made £2.6M (£3.13M / $4.2M – est. £700-1M) – now that was a nice price! Coming in second was Courbet’s Bords de la Mer, Palavas at £300K (£369K / $496K – etc. £200-300K) and in third was Isaac Israels’ A Dancer which made £115K (£144K / $193K – est. £50-70K).
Rounding out the top five were a small (9 3/8 x 15 ¾ inch) Pasini titled A Market Before Nusretiye Camii Mosque in Tophane, Constantinople which made £110K (£138K / $185K – est. £80-120K) while Chierici’s Gioie Infantile brought £95K (£119K / $160K – est. £80-120K).
The sale did have one larger miss, Pasini’s Mercato a Costantinopoli (est. £200-300K); but in general, most of the other misses were at the lower levels … so that was a nice sign.
By the time the sale was over, of the 83 works offered, 60 sold (72.3% — pretty close to the competition) and the total take was £5.75M ($7.7M – low end of the estimate range was £3M); so they easily beat the estimate. Going a little deeper, we find that 27 sold below, 19 within and 14 above their estimate range. Adding in the 23 unsold works we arrived at an accuracy rate of 22.9% – a little less than the competition … but also stronger than some of the other sales we have seen.
This sale did have a one hit wonder – the Delacroix – which accounted for over 54% of the sale’s total and the top 5 works totaled £3.9M ($5.2M) … or 67.8% of the total sale. Without that biggie, the overall results would have been very different … but as we have seen, this is the case with many sales today.