This week, Sotheby’s, London, also presented an online sale of 19th-century works, though they offered a substantially greater amount of work than the competition… featuring 211 items, while Christie’s had just 71. Even with almost 3 times as much material, this was not one of the better sales, though it did do better than Christie’s. What I found interesting is that there was a great deal of sculpture offered – 77 lots, or almost 37% of the sale … I guess they are condensing their sales. (w/p = with premium)
Taking the top slot here was Munnings’s Springtime, Apple Blossom with a Mare and Foal; a work that carried an £80-120K estimate and sold for £190K/$235K (£238K/$294K w/p). There was a tie for number two – Munnings’s Gravel Pit in Suffolk (est. £60-80K) and Jenny Montigny’s Fille au Jardin (est. £80-120K) both hammered at £160K/$198K (£200K/$247K w/p). In third place was Jacek Malczewski’s The Postwoman at £85K/$105K (£106K/$131K w/p – est. £30-50K). I am still trying to figure out if it was the fact that the postal worker is a woman, or that she is naked, that caused all the interest … an inquiring mind wants to know.
There were a few lots that garnered some strong competition; among them were Jean Montigny’s Autoportrait at £20K/$25K (£25K/$31K w/p – est £1-1.5K), Ronner-Knip’s The Young Artist at £32K/$40K (£40K/$50K w/p – est. £8-12K), Erastus Palmer’s Bust of a Woman – £24K/$30K (£30K/$37K w/p – est. £4-6K), and Munnings’s River Landscape – £65K/$80K (£81K/$100K w/p – est. £10-15K). On the flip side, some of the works, both paintings and sculpture, with the highest estimates failed to find buyers. These included works by Grimshaw (est. £200-300K), Gaertner (est. £200-300K), after Canova (est. £100-150K), Bottinelli (est. £100-150K), and after Fraikin (est. £80-120K).
By the time this one was over, of the 210 works offered, 97 sold (46.2%), and the total take was £2.23M/$2.75M (£2.8M/$3.46M w/p) … the low end of their presale estimate range was about £3.77M/$4.69M, so they fell a bit short. Of the sold works, 12 were below, 65 within, and 21 above their presale estimates, leaving them an accuracy rate of 30.9% … far better than the competition.
If you are going to overwhelm the market with online sales (which is what is happening with the big salerooms right now), you need to be sure they are compact and filled with fresh material, in excellent condition, and accurately estimated.