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).
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.
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.