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Sotheby’s Vic Pics — A Tough Go

December 17, 2019
Burne-Jones’s St. Barbara, St. Dorothy and St. Agnes

Burne-Jones’s St. Barbara, St. Dorothy and St. Agnes

On the 10th, Sotheby’s offered up a small group of Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist works of art.  While there were some strong results, overall the sale did not cut the mustard.

Grimshaw’s Glasgow

Grimshaw’s Glasgow

Taking the number one spot was Burne-Jones’s St. Barbara, St. Dorothy and St. Agnes that carried a £700-1M estimate and sold for £855K (with premium – w/p) – the painting last sold in 2006 for £546K.  Second place was grabbed by Grimshaw’s Glasgow at £137,500 (est. £120-180K) … the last time this work appeared on the public market was in 1996, it made £54K.  In third place was Sir John Lavery’s A Southern Sea at £90K (est. £70-100K). Rounding out the top five at £68,750 were John Brett’s Portrait of Arthur Brett (est. £10-15K) and David Roberts’ Castle and Bridge of St. Angelo, Rome (est. £30-50K).

Sir John Lavery’s A Southern Sea

Sir John Lavery’s A Southern Sea

Other works that performed well were John Brett’s Cape Wrath – a 7 x 14 inch work which carried an £8-12K estimate and sold for £22,500; William P. Frith’s Kate Nickleby at Madame Mantalin’s brought £47,500 (est. £15-20K) and a small study by Frederick Robinson made £16,250 (est. £4-6K).

There were a number of large failures, these included Burne-Jones’ Aurora (est. £600-800K) – they devoted 6 pages in the catalog to this work and when looking at the detail images one can understand why they felt they needed so much real estate and why it did not sell at the estimated price; Grimshaw’s October Afterglow (est. £150-200K); John Emms’ The New Forest Buckhounds (£80-120K); and Lavery’s Mrs. Geoffrey Birkbeck (est. £40-60K).

By the end of the short session, of the 49 works offered, 30 sold (61%), and the total take was £1.75M … the low end of their presale estimate range was £2.4M — so they fell far short.

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