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Christie’s, London – European Art

July 18, 2019

Julio Romero de Torres’s The Slave

Julio Romero de Torres’s “The Slave”

The final sale on July 11th was Christie’s European art offerings, which were not as robust as their Victorian Sale that morning (all prices include the buyer’s premium).

Corot’s Lormes – Un torrent avec…

Corot’s “Lormes – Un torrent avec…”

Coming in first was Julio Romero de Torres’s The Slave that crushed its estimate of £20-30K when it sold for £300K/$376K (talk about missing the mark, I can only assume that they based it on the fact that this same work failed to sell in 2001 and 2010 with a £30-40K estimate).  Taking the number two spot was Corot’s Lormes – Un torrent avec… at £250K/$314K (est. £200-300K); and Courbet took the number three spot when Marine sold for £106K/$133K.  Rounding out the top five were Monticelli’s A Young Family Under Trees on a Hill at £87.5K/$110K (est. £30-50K), and Corot’s Fermière agenouillée cueillant des pissenlits at £81K/$102K (est. £30-50K).

Courbet's "Marine"

Courbet’s “Marine”

Other nice results included Holsoe’s Interior with a Samovar (£52.2K/$66K – est. £15-25K), and Steinbruck’s Madonna and Child at £37.5K/$47K (est. £7-10K). There were couple of results that even surprised me. Corot’s rather thin and small (9.5 x 13 inches) Paysage d’automne pres… made £72.5K/$91K (est. £40-60K), while his very sketchy (and thin) Fermiere agenouillee… made £81K/$102K.  And then there were a few that just did not leave the starting gate, these included works by Corot (£30-50K), Ciardi (£70-100K – this one looked like it had some condition issues), Leickert (£50-80K), B.C. Koekkoek (£50-80K), W. Koekkoek (£50-70K), Springer (£70-100K), and Israels (£60-80K).

When all was said and done, of the 70 works offered, 50 sold (71.4% sell-through rate) and the total take was £2.12M/$2.66M – the low end of their presale estimate range was £1.9M, so they squeaked in with the addition of the buyer’s premium.  I decided to dig a little deeper and discovered that 19 works sold below, 24 within and 7 above their estimate range.  When we factor in the 20 unsold works, that left them with an accuracy rate of 34% (not too bad).

While a 71% sell-through rate and a 34% accuracy rate are respectable, the trouble is the salerooms are just pushing out too much material … and not all of it is stellar.  Smaller and stronger sales are still needed; however, it is nice to see strong action for the top-quality material.