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Christie’s, London: British and European Art

December 17, 2021

On December 16th, Christie’s, London, presented their wide range of British and European Art. Like the Sotheby’s sale, the estimates spanned a wide range: £1.5-2K to £200-300K; about 95% of the sale was expected to sell for under £100K.


Taking the number one position in their British and European Art was Alfred Munnings’ The Queen’s Horses: ‘Corporal’, ‘Biscuit’ and ‘Aureole’. This long and narrow work was estimated at £80-120K range and hammered for £240K/$318K (£300K/$397K – w/p). The last time the painting sold at an auction was in 1994 where it made $68,500; it was also offered in a Sotheby’s sale back in 2019 with a $200-300K estimate and was unsold. It is interesting to see the difference a couple of years can make. The number two position was also nabbed by Mr. Munnings when his Two Busvines and a Cutaway brought £200K/$$265K (250K/$331K – w/p – est. £200/300K). Taking the number three spot was a mid-sized work by the Dutch Romantic artist Cornelius Springer titled The Wijdstraat, Oudewater, in Summer. This pretty street scene had a few small areas of restoration and carried a £60-80K estimate – it hammered at £95K/$126K (£119K/$157K w/p). Rounding out the top five was a collaborative work by Klombeck and Verboeckhoven titled A Winter Landscape that sold for £90K/$119K (£113K/$149K) on a £40-60K estimate, and Jean Beraud’s Scène de rue Parisienne at £80/$106K (£100K/$132K). Of the top five, only the Beraud fell a little short.


While a couple of additional works performed well, George Clausen (£94K – est. £30-50K) and Van Hove (£44K – est. £15-20K), many either sold below their estimate or did not sell. Among the unsold lots were paintings by Rico y Ortega (£100-150K), Grimshaw (£100-150K), Delacroix (£100-150K), Sorbi (£70-100K), and Robert Burns (est. £60-80K).

Of the 135 works in the sale, 103 were sold (76.3%), and the total take was £2.44M/$3.24M (£3.1M/$4.04M). The presale estimate range was £3.15-4.7M, so they fell just a little short even with the buyer’s premium added in. Going a little deeper, we find that 46 sold below, 26 with, and 31 above their estimate range, generating an accuracy rate of 19.3% … a bit less than the competition.

The story remains the same. The salerooms need to be more selective and keep their estimates in line with the market.