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The 19th-Century Sale – Bonhams London

March 26, 2019
Ludwig Deutsch - "At the Mosque"

Ludwig Deutsch “At the Mosque”

Towards the end of February, Bonhams London, presented their 19th-century European, Victorian and British Impressionist Art sale.  Taking the top two spots were Orientalist works by Ludwig Deutsch that were bought by the seller almost 50 years ago – so we would say they were very fresh.  At the Mosque, painted in 1895, carried a £300-500K estimate and sold for £460K/$609K (£561K/$742K – with commission, w/c), while Respect, which was dated 1902, had a £250-350K estimate and sold for £420K/$556K (£513K/$678K w/c).  In third was Grimshaw’s Two Thousand Years Ago that hammered at £100K/$132K (£125K/$165K – est. £100-150K). According to the provenance for the Grimshaw one would surmise it had not been on the market in over 35 years; however, this same painting was offered at a 2017 Christie’s New York sale with a $220-280K estimate and failed to sell.  Rounding out the top five were Stanhope Forbes’ The Bridge at £75K/$99K ($94K/$124K w/c – est. 30-50K), and William Bell Scott’s The Norns Watering the Tree of Life at £60K/$79K (£75K/$99K w/c – est. £60-80K).

Ludwig Deutsch - "Respect"

Ludwig Deutsch “Respect”

In addition to those, there were respectable results for Thorburn (£62.5K/ $83K – w/c), Laura Knight (£62.5K/ $83K– w/c), Couture (£50K/$66K – w/c) and Latour (£50K/$66K – w/c). And then there are those works that did not make it out of the starting gate; among them were paintings by Tadema (£150-250K), Deutsch (£100-150K), Noel (£20-30K), Latour (£30-50K), Ernst (£30-50K), Grimshaw (£100-150K), Sharp (£30-50K), and a few others.

Atkinson Grimshaw "Two Thousand Years Ago"

Atkinson Grimshaw “Two Thousand Years Ago”

By the end of the session, of the 104 lots in the catalog, 82 sold (giving them a respectable 81.7% sell-through rate) and the total take was £2.14M/$2.8M at the hammer (£2.65M/$3.5M w/c). The low end of their presale estimate range was £2.2M/$2.9M, so they needed the buyer’s premium to make it.

Digging a little deeper, we see that the top three lots accounted for £1.2M (45.3%) of the sale’s total, and the top 10 brought in £1.64M, or 62%. Of the 104 works offered, 25 were below, 37 within, and 20 above their presale estimate range.  This gave them a 35.6% accuracy rate – which was nice to see.

The sale was a nice indicator of the 19th century’s market.  When good quality, good condition, appropriately estimated, and fresh to the market, works appear there is a good deal of interest and strong prices are the result.