On the afternoon of December 12, Christie’s offered up a small group of European paintings in their European Art: 19th Century & Orientalist Art sale. While there were a few interesting works, a good number of the offerings were not very enticing, and neither were the overall results.
There was a tie for the top position: Gustave Moreau’s Orphée (a tiny, unfinished, study estimated at £80-120K), and Jean B.C. Corot’s Saint-Nicolas-Lez-Arras… (est. £150-200K) both hammered at £200K (£250K with premium – w/p). The third most expensive work was de Blaas The Courtship that brought £140K (£175K w/p – est. 150-200K). rounding out the top five were a watercolor by de Nittis at £70K (£70-100K), and a Cabanel which hammered for £55K (£69K w/p – est. £45-65K).
Among the bigger failures were paintings by Corot, Géricault, Gallen-Kallela, Koekkoek, Girardet, and to top it off, the lot with the biggest estimate – Gérôme’s Arnaut Fumant (£300-500K) – was withdrawn. What I did find interesting is that the Orientalist works did not perform well. Over the past few months we have seen some spectacular prices; however, in this sale of the 17 works offered only 7 sold.
At the end of the day, of the 71 works offered, 43 sold (60.5%), and the total was £1.82M/$2.4M on a presale estimate range of £2.08-3.04M … so even with the buyer’s premium added in they fell short. Looking closer at the sold works we find that 11 were below, 21 within, and 11 above their presale estimates; this left them with an accuracy rate of 29.6%.