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Master Paintings — OK, the Old Masters!!

February 1, 2018


Tonight, Sotheby’s presented their Master Paintings Evening Sale … in the pre-millennial days this would have been called Old Master Paintings … and the results were positive – with the top 14 works all selling in excess of $1M. Taking the pole position were a pair of paintings by Canaletto — Venice, the churches of the Redentore and San Giacomo; Venice, the prisons and the Bridge of Sighs, looking northwest from the balcony – which brought $4.18M (est. $3-$4M).  In second was Velazquez’s Portrait of Monsignor Cristoforo Segni at $4.07M (est. $3-4M) and in third was Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Lucretia which made $2.9M (est. $2-3M).  Rounding out the top five were Lancret’s Winter at $2.66M (est. $1.5-2M) and van Dyck’s Portrait of Prince Willem II of Orange… at $2.42M (est. $2-3M).


Among the biggest surprises were Agnolo Gaddi’s Madonna and Child which made $1.46M (est. $400-600K); Donato Creti’s A Sibyl at $1.1M (est. $200-300K); Willem Drost’s Roman Charity – $1.1M (est. $200-300K) and Alessandro Allori’s The Crucifixion… – $735K (est. $80-120K). Of course, there were some disappointed sellers: works by Brueghel ($2.5-$3.5M); Vanvitelli ($800-1.2M); Gentileschi ($800-1.2M) and 15 others failed to sell.


By the end of the evening’s session, of the 71 works offered, 55 (77.3%) found buyers … not bad … and the total take was $48.09M – the low end of their estimate range was $38.47M. The top 5 works generated $16.21M (33.7% of the sale) and the top 10 totaled $26.5M (55% of the sale).

Last year’s corresponding sale saw 55 works offered, 34 sold (61.8%) and a total take of $27.2M … the top 10 works accounted for 75% of the sale. So, the 2018 sale seems to have been a healthier one. This is just the first major sale of the season and we are going to see a lot of action over the next few months.