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Cranach the Elder Leads at Solid Old Master Sales

Midseason sales of Old Master paintings at Sotheby’s and Christie’s London salerooms realized a healthy total of £6.9 million ($12.4 million) in auctions held April 27 and 28, respectively.

NEW YORK—Midseason sales of Old Master paintings at Sotheby’s and Christie’s London salerooms realized a healthy total of £6.9 million ($12.4 million) in auctions held April 27 and 28, respectively.

Sotheby’s grossed £3.8 million ($6.8 million), with 102, or 82 percent, of 124 lots sold. By value the auction was 95 percent sold. The top lot was Portrait of the Elder Frederick III ‘the Wise’ of Saxony, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1533). Estimated at £50,000/70,000, it brought £288,000 ($514,138). Several works fetched solid six-figure prices well above their presale estimates.

These included Portrait of an Old Man, by Govaert Flinck (1615-60), estimated at £20,000/30,000. The work fetched £187,200 ($334,189) from an American collector. And Landscape with a Wedding Procession, attributed only to “Flemish school, probably Antwerp, early 17th century,” was the third-highest lot, realizing £164,800 ($294,201) against an estimated £40,000/60,000.

Alex Bell, head of Sotheby’s Old Master paintings department, said the sale was “one of the strongest midseason sales for many years,” adding that there was “intense competition from both private buyers and the trade.”

Among other top-selling lots at Sotheby’s: A Winter Landscape with Skaters on a Frozen River, by Karel Beschey (1706-70), took £142,400, or $254,212 (estimate: £25,000/35,000); and An Interior with Children Drinking and Mischief-Making, by Jan Miense Molenaer (1610-68), went for £120,000, or $214,224 (estimate: £20,000/30,000).

The top lot at Christie’s was a still life by Luca Forte (circa 1615-70) that fetched £500,800 ($901,440) against an estimated £250,000/350,000. The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist, by Jacopo Amigoni (circa 1685-1752), fell for £105,000, or $189,000 (estimate: £30,000/40,000).

A strong price was achieved for The Virgin and Child, by Ambrosius Benson (active 1518-50). The work sold for £153,600, or $276,480 (estimate: £40,000/60,000).

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