The auction action never stops. This week saw a trio of sales across the pond in London… Two at Christie’s and another at Sotheby’s. Both took their shot at the Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist art market and Christie’s also threw in a small 19th Century and Orientalist Art sale.
The first of the week was Christie’s – a whopping 179 lots up for grabs. With an absolutely stellar performance, John William Waterhouse’s Flora grabbed the top spot at just over £500K on a £150-250 estimate (£410K hammer)! It last sold in 2010 at Sotheby’s in London for just £145K. The chalk drawing on paper is one of less than 150 studies known to exist by Waterhouse and depicts the subject from one of his most complex paintings from the prime of his career – Flora and the Zephyrs debuted at the Royal Academy in 1898 and would eventually become part of George McCulloch’s remarkable art collection. In second was another preparatory study… this one by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The pencil and chalk on paper was expected to bring between £200-300K and found a buyer just above that at £320K (£260 hammer). The work remained with the same family for more than 100 years before being sold in 1981… it then changed hands a couple more times, most recently in 2004 where it was acquired through Sotheby’s London for £117K. Rounding out the top three was a work by Grimshaw… the smallish work is a window into a gloomy, moonlit evening in London’s village of Hampstead. It was purchased from a small antique shop in Hampstead in the early 1960s and has been passed down through the family since… here, it was expected to sell between £200-300K and nearly surpassed that mark at £296K (£240 hammer). There weren’t exactly many “highlights” here but there were a few, let’s call them, bright spots… A Burne-Jones more than quadrupled it’s £8-12K estimate as it found a buyer at £56K; similarly, a set of portraits by Evenly de Morgan hit £125K on a £20-30K estimate; and a work by Charles Perugini, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy 1897, more than doubled it’s £70-100K estimate at £212K.
In the end, 131 (73%) of the 179 works found buyers and totaled nearly £5M… the sale was expected to bring £4-7M, so without the buyer’s premium they just missed the mark.