ARTnewsletter Archive

New Buyers Energize London/Paris Print Sales

Sotheby’s London and Piasa in Paris each saw strong demand for prints at sales held Sept. 27 and Sept. 29, respectively. Sotheby’s Bond Street sale on Sept. 27 featured prints ranging from Old Master to modern and contemporary, realizing £3.6 million ($6.4 million) and posting a string of strong six-figure prices. Of 416 lots on

PARIS—Sotheby’s London and Piasa in Paris each saw strong demand for prints at sales held Sept. 27 and Sept. 29, respectively. Sotheby’s Bond Street sale on Sept. 27 featured prints ranging from Old Master to modern and contemporary, realizing £3.6 million ($6.4 million) and posting a string of strong six-figure prices. Of 416 lots on offer, 306, or 73.7 percent, were sold.

The Drouot-based auction house Piasa, which has made a name for itself in the field of art prints—thanks to its regular sales taken from the sizable Henri Petiet collection—kicked off the fall season in Paris with a successful sale of

16th- to 18th-century prints on Sept. 29. The 173-lot sale totaled €619,200 ($743,000); it was 82 percent sold by volume and 93 percent by value.

At Sotheby’s an aquatint by Pablo Picasso, Femme au tambourin, scored the best price, fetching £321,600 ($568,460) from a London dealer (estimate: £180,000/220,000). Edvard Munch’s lithograph Liebendes Weib sold for £288,000, or $509,069 (estimate: £280,000/320,000), while Marc Chagall’s Le Cirque brought £112,800 ($199,385) from a private buyer (estimate: £80,000/100,000).

Jonathan Pratt, head of the Sotheby’s prints department in London, said the sale had “performed beyond expectations, demonstrating the current strength of the market. Many new buyers were noted, particularly in the contemporary section.”

Prints by Andy Warhol figured in the top ten prices, including £56,400 ($99,693) for Marilyn, a screenprint in colors (estimate: £35,000/40,000); and £36,000 ($63,634) for Electric Chairs, a complete portfolio comprising ten screenprints. An Albrecht Dürer woodcut, The Apocalypse, fetched £57,600 ($101,814) from a U.S. dealer.

Etching Sets Artist’s Record at Piasa

At Piasa, a record was set for a print by the French 18th-century artist Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, whose etching Vue du salon du Louvre en l’Année 1753 fetched €48,130 ($57,800) against an estimate of just €10,000/12,000. Sale expert Hélène Bonafous-Murat said it was rare to find the print (as here) in the second state of three, before modifications to the lettering.

There were two other strong prices for French prints. A complete eight-plate set of colored, “pastel-style” engravings by Louis-Marin Bonnet, after Tête de Flore, 1769, by François Boucher (1703-70), in the first state of two, jumped to X31,290 ($37,500) against an estimate of X3,800/4,200, thanks to its “fresh tones and very fine condition,” according to Bonafous-Murat; and Louis- Philibert Debucourt’s La Promenade Publique, 1792, a colored engraving with etching and aquatint highlights, “extremely rare” in the first state of three (prelettering), rose to €30,690 ($36,800) despite slight foxing (estimate: €5,000/6,000).

The sale’s three highest prices went to ensembles of etchings and aquatints by Francisco de Goya (1746-1828). An incomplete set of proofs from the first 1799 printing of Los caprichos fetched €83,030 ($99,600); a full 18-plate set of Los Proverbios, printed in Madrid in 1864, climbed to €71,120 ($85,300); and a full set of 80 plates of Los desastres de la Guerra, 1863, claimed €52,950 ($63,500). All three prices were well clear of estimate.

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