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Vibrant Drawings Sales Kick Off Old Masters Week

Christie’s ushered in a week of Old Masters sales on Monday, Jan. 25, with an auction of Old Masters and 19th-century drawings. The sale realized a total of $4.2 million, with 176, or 71 percent, of 247 lots finding buyers.

NEW YORK—Christie’s ushered in a week of Old Masters sales on Monday, Jan. 25, with an auction of Old Masters and 19th-century drawings. The sale realized a total of $4.2 million, with 176, or 71 percent, of 247 lots finding buyers.

Sotheby’s sale on Jan. 26 totaled $4.6 million, with 149, or 66.5 percent, of 224 lots finding buyers. By value the auction was 85 percent sold.

At Christie’s the top prices included three artists’ records: $307,200 (estimate: $40,000/60,000) for The Funeral of Mausolus, King of Halicarnassus, by Niccolo Dell’Abate (1509-1571); $251,200 (estimate: $100,000/150,000) for The Temptation of Adam, by Bartholomeus Spranger (1546-1611); and $144,000 (estimate: $40,000/60,000) for Christ in the House of Simon the Pharisee, by Domenica Campagnola (1500-64).

Christie’s specialists Nicolas Schwed and Sara Kay stated that they were very pleased with the results of the sale and noted the sold-by-value rate of more than 80 percent: “As ever, here in New York private American buyers played a large part in the proceedings, along with healthy international museum interest.”

The top lot was The Birth and Triumph of Venus, by François Boucher (1703-70), which climbed well above its $80,000/120,000 estimate to realize $520,000. Christie’s specialists called the Boucher “an exceptional work which resurfaced after having been lost for 170 years.”

Among the artworks that fetched solid prices, Meleager Implored by the Aetolians. . ., by Johann Heinrich Füssli (1747-1825), was sold for $180,000, more than twice the high estimate of $70,000.

The top lot at Sotheby’s was a manuscript, Florilegium, by Jacques le Moyne de Morgues. Estimated at $600,0000/800,000 the work fetched $1.1 million. A drawing attributed to “circle of Giovanni Bellini,” Head and Shoulders, Portrait of a Young Man, fetched $800,000 (estimate: $700,000/900,000).

One drawing that soared far past its presale estimate was Mme. de Pompadour Performing a Scene from Acis et Galatée, by Charles-Nicolas Cochin the Younger. The work went for $180,000 against an estimate of $7,000/10,000.

(A full report of the January Old Master paintings sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, New York, will appear in the Feb. 15, 2005, issue of ARTnewsletter.)

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