Published: January 26, 2017
NEW YORK CITY — Sotheby’s evening sale of Master paintings and sculpture totaled $27.2 million on January 25, with a newly discovered work by Sir Peter Paul Rubens leading the auction at $5.1 million.
The annual Masters Week auctions so far, including the morning sale of Old Master drawings and evening sale of Master paintings and sculpture together achieved $31.8 million.
New auction records were set for Willem Drost and Adam de Coster. Six bidders competed for “Flora,” one of Drost’s finest works. The painting’s final price of $4.6 million marks a new auction record for the artist, breaking the previous record set in 1992. “Flora” was executed during the artist’s brief stay in Venice in the 1650s, when he came under the direct spell of Titian – to whom this work is a clear homage.
Adam de Coster’s dramatic nocturne, “A Young Woman Holding a Distaff Before a Lit Candle,” again set a new auction record for the artist, fetching $4.8 million and surpassing the previous record it had established at Sotheby’s in 1992. On offer from the collection of J.E. Safra, the work remains one of the most significant additions in recent decades to the artist’s small catalog.
Until recently, Sir Peter Paul Rubens’s “Study of a Horse with a Rider” had been described as by a follower of Sir Anthony Van Dyck. However, the authorship had been difficult to discern due to overpaint and background added later, which dominated the original scene. With the removal of these later additions, the canvas was revealed as a work of high quality, and a typical example of the spirited and rapidly painted oil sketches for which Rubens is celebrated.
Commenting on the evening sale, Christopher Apostle, head of Sotheby’s Old Master paintings department, said, “We saw exceptional prices for several exceptional pictures – this market understands and appreciates a masterpiece when it sees one. That applies both to famed artists like Rubens and Botticelli, who continue to attract a global audience, as well as names celebrated among connoisseurs like Drost and de Coster, both of whom saw new auction records set. We had strong private bidding across our field, including participation from Asian and Russian collectors, with Dutch Seventeenth Century pictures, early Italian and Flemish works performing particularly well.”
The firm’s Masters Week sales continue on January 26 with the Master paintings and sculpture day sale, followed by the Master paintings and Nineteenth Century art auction on January 27. Watch for a full report on the sale series in an upcoming issue.
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