Titian Brings $16.9 Million, Met Buys Second Del Vaga
The price, which included buyer’s commission, fell short of the high presale estimate of $20 million. It broke the existing $13.6 million auction record for the artist, set 20 years ago at Christie’s in London.
Today’s painting, “A Sacra Conversazione: The Madonna and Child with Saints Luke and Catherine of Alexandria,” went to a private European collector bidding by phone. When the auctioneer began the bidding at $12 million in a hushed room, not a single paddle went up.
The earth-toned canvas with striking pink clouds is thought to have been completed around 1560 with the help of Titian’s studio assistants, according to the Sotheby’s catalog. The Venetian painter died in 1576.
“I didn’t see a commanding presence by Titian in this painting,” said New York-based art dealer Richard Feigen. “So I am not surprised it didn’t generate more interest.”
Many lots at Sotheby’s surpassed their estimates and set auction records.
Del Vaga Vogue
The Metropolitan Museum of Art paid $2.1 million for “The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist” by the late-Renaissance Italian painter Perino del Vaga. It had a presale estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.
Yesterday, the museum paid $782,500 for the artist’s drawing “Jupiter and Juno Reclining in an Alcove Attended by Amorini, Two Others Holding a Heraldic Shield Below.”
“He is one step down from Raphael and Michelangelo,” said Armin Kunz, director and partner of C.G. Boerner gallery in New York and Duesseldorf, which specializes in Old Masters. “Del Vaga is less known to a wider public, but for the specialists in the field he is an important artist.”
Willem van der Vliet’s 1627 painting “A Scholar in His Study with Figures With Masks, Possibly an Allegory” sold for $2.9 million, surpassing its $1.8 million high estimate and setting an auction record for the artist.
Another auction record came with the $6.2 million sale of the previously unknown “Adam and Eve,” a small painting by Dutch Mannerist Joachim Anthonisz Wtewael, which had a low estimate of $800,000.
Claude-Joseph Vernet’s “Grand View of the Sea Shore Enriched With Buildings, Shipping and Figures” sold for $7 million, up from a presale estimate of $1.5 to $2 million. New York-based art adviser Carol Strone bought the work, bidding on behalf of a private American collector. It was yet another auction record.
“Looks like the Old Masters are entering a new era of greater enthusiasm and broader collector base,” said Strone.
The salesroom was packed, mostly with men sporting well- tailored suits and French, Italian or Russian accents.
“I’ve never seen such a good sale,” said Paris-based art adviser Etienne Breton, who has worked in the field for 25 years and sees a shrinking market now driving the demand for Old Masters.
“American museums are buying, European museums are buying, Louvre Abu Dhabi is buying,” said Breton. “For many patrons it’s the last chance to get a reference picture.”
The morning session of Sotheby’s Important Old Master Paintings sale totaled $78.6 million, above its presale high estimate of $74 million. The auction continues this afternoon.
Christie’s International sold $36.7 million during its auction of Old Master and 19th-century paintings, drawings and sculpture yesterday, falling short of its presale estimate of $39 million to $56 million.
The top lot was Luca Carlevarijs’s 18th-century canvas “View of the Molo, Venice, Looking West,” which fetched $4 million, in the middle of its presale estimate range of $3.5 million to $4.5 million. The price set an auction record for the artist.
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