Published: July 11, 2000
LONDON, ENGLAND – Some two hours of bidding at Christie’s sale of Works of Art from the Wernher collection realized $30,401,120 on July 5, doubling pre-sale expectations. The sale was 89 percent sold by lot and 97 percent by value. Buyers were 81 percent European and 19 percent American.
“It was an honor for Christie’s to auction such important works of art from the Wernher collection,” said Lord Hindlip, chairman of Christie’s. “This sale marks a new beginning for the long-term future of the remaining core of the Wernher collection and its public display in this country.”
A large part of the proceeds of the sale of the Werher collection will be used to facilitate the long-term conservation, preservation and display of the works of art remaining in the Wernher collection.
According to the Associated Press, the collection was put together by Sir Julius Wernher with the proceeds of a diamond mining fortune made in South Africa in the Nineteenth Century. Wernher later settled in London
Sir Peter Paul Rubens’ (1577-1640) “Diana with her nymphs hunting – a model,” circa 1636-7, one of the famous series that the artist painted for King Philip IV of Spain, sold for $4,659,545 to Caja Madrid, the Spanish savings bank. A sketch for a commission for the Torre de la Parada, the royal hunting lodge outside Madrid, is one of very few examples remain in private hands.
“Portrait of Giacomo Doria” by Titian, circa 1531 an imposing canvas by the Venetian master, sold for $3,662,286. Representing a member of the influential Genoese family, whose representatives today own the famous Doria-Phampilij collection in Rome, the canvas achieved the second highest price for the artist at auction.
“The rest of the flight to Egypt” by Filippino Lippi (circa 1457-1504) another example of an Italian Renaissance painting by one of the foremost figures of the Florentine School, sold for $1,002,926, a record for the artist at auction.
The Wernher collection of silver realized £7,446,400 and was led by two superb examples of late Gothic silver. The two figures, “Saint Sebastian” and “Saint Christopher,” formed the core of one of the most important assemblages of European silver seen at auction in London for over half a century.
A silver-gilt tazza form the Aldobrandini set of the 12 Caesars, showing the Emperor Nero and made in Italy circa 1570, sold for $1,584,661. Further highlights of the silver collection included a German silver gilt cup and cover formed as a model of a bear, which more than tripled pre-sale expectations to realize $288, 223.
Eighteenth Century French furniture in the sale included a Louis XV ormolu-mounted marquetry secretaire en armoire by Jean-Henri Riesener that sold for $1,833,976. This price, dating from circa 1763-1768, belongs to a celebrated group of eight secretaries stamped by both Jean-Francois Oeben and Jean-Henri Riesener.
The Wernher collection was housed for nearly a century at Beth House, Piccadilly and at Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire.
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