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Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist sales in London

December 18, 2017

Christie’s and Sotheby’s offered up their Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist art earlier this week over in London and the results were uninspiring. Without the buyer’s premium, neither sale made it into the pre-sale estimate range and both left a considerable chunk of material unsold…

James Smetham – The Mandolin

Christie’s was up first and leading the way was the catalog cover-piece – James Smetham’s The Mandolin. Though it wasn’t even projected to crack the top three (based on presale esimates), the work blew by its £100-150K estimate as it hammered down at £390K ($523K — £476K /$639K with premium). In second was a work by John Atkinson Grimshaw, one of several works by the artist up for sale here… This work, Liverpoool Lights, found a buyer at £280K hammer ($376K — £344K/$462K w/p) on a £200-300K estimate; another work by Grimshaw also brandished a £200-300K estimate yet it failed to sell. Rounding out the top three was another work by Grimshaw – this one estimated at £120-180K, found a buyer at £135K ($181K — £168K/$226K w/p). A few other works by Grimshaw made good prices as well as a drawing by Burne-Jones which fetched £100K w/p. All said, only 77 of the 123 (62.6%) works found a buyer and totaled just £2.47M w/p ($3.3M) – the low end of the pre-sale estimate was £2.3M, so they needed that extra bump from the premiums.

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope – Penelope

Let’s just get it out of the way… Sotheby’s was even worse… oh well. The lone bright spot on the evening was John Roddam Spencer Stanhope’s Penelope – in similar fashion, the cover-piece of the catalog. The work topped it’s £400-600K estimate at £640K w/p ($866K). Well off in second was a work by Godward at £150K ($201K – Est. £120-180K) followed by a Grimshaw at £125K ($168K – Est. £120-180K). Nothing else broke the 6 figure mark… in fact, only two other lots even topped £50K – nothing too exciting. When the evening ended, nearly half the sale was left unsold… of the 82 lots on the block, just 45 sold (54.8%) and the total take was £1.8M ($2.43M)… the low end of the presale estimate was £2.07M… again, keep in mind that the sales total includes premiums and the presale estimate does not, so they were way way off.

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