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British & European Art – Christie’s, London

July 30, 2020
Grimshaw’s Stapleton Park, Near Pontefract

Grimshaw’s – Stapleton Park, Near Pontefract

Christie’s just completed another online auction, this one featured British and European Art, and once again, there were not a lot of great works presented.  Christie’s promoted the featured works from this sale on their site, amounting to 11 of the 117 lots offered, and unfortunately almost half of the featured lots did not sell, almost mimicking the overall sale results. (w/p = with the buyer’s premium)

Arnoldus Bloemers Still life

Arnoldus Bloemers – Still life with roses, peonies, tulips…

Taking the top slot was one of the featured works, John Atkinson Grimshaw’s Stapleton Park, Near Pontefract which carried an estimate of £60-80K and sold for £65K/$84.5K (£81.3/$105.7K – w/p).   In second place was a colorful and nice work by Arnoldus Bloemers titled Still life with roses, peonies, tulips, narcissi, convulvulus and others in a vase on a marble ledge, estimated at £20-30K, which more than doubled the estimate, once the commission was added in; it sold for £50K/$65K (£62.5K/$81.3K -w/p). Coming in a close third was a painting by Josef Israels titled Kinderen der zee; children playing in the surf which was estimated to bring £8-12K; well it blew that estimate out of the water when it hammered for £48K/$62.4K (£60K/$78K – w/p).

Jozef Israels - Kinderen der zee

Jozef Israels -Kinderen der zee

Now onto some of those featured works that just did not make it to the finish line. A painting by Frederic Lord Leighton titled Head of a Girl in a White Dress did not sell with an estimate of £60-80k.  Another disappointment were two works by Cornelis Springer — The Town Hall of Bolsward and The Vegetable Market (each estimated at £50-70K).  A work by Hippolyte Camille Delpy did not attract interest with a slightly aggressive estimate of £40-60K. And the two works with the highest estimates in the sale (£100-150K) also failed to attract a buyer – the ‘cover’ piece by Sir George Clausen titled A Midsummer Day and a sculpture by Alfred Boucher titled Volubilis (Morning Glory).

When the sale was over, of the 117 works offered, 67 sold (57.3%) and the total take was just £1.45M ($1.89M), far below the presale low estimate of £2.368M ($3.08M). Even adding in the buyer’s premium couldn’t get this sale up to speed.  Was it the lackluster appeal of the works offered, their quality, or do people just need a break from the massive amount of online sales?