Published: February 5, 2018
NEW YORK CITY – Sotheby’s annual Masters Week auctions encompassed three days of sales and saw more than 650 paintings, drawings and sculptures selling for an overall total of $82.5 million, approaching the series’ high estimate of $85.9 million, and a total nearly double the results of $41.9 million for the same sale series in 2017. At its close, multiple records had been set for artists and demonstrated strength in all major schools at the high end of the market.
On the first day alone, three single-owner collections crossed the block. Starting the day were 28 lots from a collection titled “The Line of Beauty: Drawings from the Collection of Howard and Sarett Barnet.” The last part of the various owner’s master drawings sale was the collection of Professor Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, a long-standing professor of the History of Art at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Ending the day in the evening was property from the gallery and private collection of dealer Otto Naumann.
A work from the collection of Howard and Saretta Barnet got the day off to a strong beginning and led from the start. Samuel Palmer’s drawing, “Landscape with a church, a boat and sheep,” was aggressively pursued by bidders to finish at $2.4 million, nearly ten times its low estimate and set a record for the artist at auction. The Barnet collection netted $11.6 million and was 68 percent sold by lot.
The Barnet collection was followed with Old Master drawings from various owners, which was anchored by the collection of Haverkamp-Begemann’s collection of approximately 70 lots. The Haverkamp-Begemann collection was 84 percent sold by lot, brought $1.5 million, nearly double its high estimate and was led by Karel van Mander the Elder’s “The Repentance of Zacchaeus the Tax Collector,” a late Sixteenth Century Dutch Mannerist study that sold for $387,000 ($60/80,000) and set a record for the artist. The session overall was 72 percent sold, by lot, and realized $5.2 million.
The sale of the collection of dealer Otto Naumann was held in the evening, the last sale of the day. The first lot of the session set a record for the artist and the sale proceeded to set an additional three artist records. The top lot of the sale was Giovanni Bilivert’s “Venus, Cupid and Pan,” which set a record for the artist and brought $879,000 ($300/500,000). Totaling $6.1 million, the Naumann collection was 77 percent sold, by lot.
The second day of sales saw Old Master paintings and Nineteenth Century European paintings sell during the day and Old Master paintings in the evening. The day sale saw strong prices achieved for quintessential Nineteenth Century pictures, led by Rudolf Ernst’s Orientalist panel “The Musician” that tripled its high estimate of $25,000 to achieve a price of $93,750. The session realized $2.9 million overall, and was 70 percent sold, by lot.
The evening session of Old Master paintings was led by a pair of Venetian views by Canaletto, which sold for $4.2 million. Most likely completed in England in the 1740s, the pair offers waterfront views of two of the most recognizable façades in La Serenissima: the Church of the Redentore and the Prisons of San Marco. While there are other known views of the Church of the Redentore by Canaletto, the present view of the Prisons of San Marco is a unique composition for the artist of which no other version is known. The session brought $48.4 million and was 75 percent sold, by lot.
The series concluded Friday morning with the Old Master paintings and sculpture day sale. The auction was led by Jacopo Zucchi’s Sixteenth Century “Portrait Of A Young Lady In An Embroidered Dress And Pearls,” which sold for $567,000, more than four times its high estimate. Though the identity of the woman remains unknown, it is clear from her lavish costume and elegant pose that she is a member of the Florentine Medici court. The painting once belonged to the celebrated New York connoisseur Thomas Jefferson Bryan (1802-1870), and later formed part of the collection of the New-York Historical Society upon his death in 1870. The session brought $8.2 million and was 65 percent sold, by lot.
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