Sotheby’s Old Masters sale in New York today racked up a few high prices after the early record set for a Simone Martini.
“Madonna and Child with the Young Baptist,” attributed to Botticelli and his studio, fetched $4.6 million, well over its estimated range of $1 million to $1.5 million. A few lots later, “Saint Jerome in the Wilderness” by Fra Bartolommeo soared past its high estimate of $2 million to sell for $4.9 million.
The fireworks subsided as “Lucretia,” a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder of a Roman noblewoman who committed suicide after being raped, went for $5.1 million, within the presale estimate of $4 million to $6 million. Painted around 1510, it depicts a sad-eyed woman with one breast exposed and pointing a dagger at her belly.
A Canaletto view of Venice’s Redentore and San Giacomo churches went for $5.7 million, also landing within its presale range of $5 million to $7 million -- the highest estimate in the sale. The painting came from the estate of Lady Irene Forte, whose late husband, Charles Forte, founded the Trusthouse Forte hotel and restaurant group.
Earlier, “The Virgin Annunciate,” a small 14th-century oil panel by Siena-born Martini (circa 1284-1344), fetched $4.1 million, edging past its presale estimate of $3 million to $4 million. The artist’s previous record of $418,000 came at Christie’s in 1991, according to Artnet.
Three telephone bidders vied for the work in a packed, quiet sales room. It was one of the oldest lots in this week’s Sotheby’s (BID) auctions. Painted on a gold ground, it shows a startled Madonna in a flowing deep-blue cloak.
The work was part of a diptych, according to Sotheby’s. Its left side would have depicted the angel Gabriel announcing the news of the Virgin’s coming motherhood.
Martini painted several Annunciation pieces, the most famous of which is currently in the collection of the Uffizi in Florence.
The auction is part of the Old Masters week at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, expected to bring as much $194 million.
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