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Solid Prices at Swann Sale of Old Master to Modern Prints

“Bible,” a 1931-9 portfolio of 105 etchings by Marc Chagall was the top seller at Swann’s Old Master through modern prints sale on April 28, earning $156,000 and just surpassing the $100,000/150,000 estimate.

NEW YORK—“Bible,” a 1931-9 portfolio of 105 etchings by Marc Chagall was the top seller at Swann’s Old Master through modern prints sale on April 28, earning $156,000 and just surpassing the $100,000/150,000 estimate. Other lots that exceeded estimates included a 1914-18 portfolio of two lithographs, five drypoints and one etching by Egon Schiele which sold for $78,000 (estimate: $50,000/75,000), while a 1943 lithograph by Benton Spruance, entitled Riders of the Apocalypse, brought $38,400 (estimate: $20,000/30,000).

A collaborative work by Claude Monet and George Thornley, a ca.1892 lithograph entitled L’Abbaye dans la Brume, drew $28,800 (estimate: $15,000/20,000) and James Ensor’s etching Le Vengeance de Hop-Frog, 1898, sold for $22,800 (estimate: $10,000/15,000)—but overall this was not an auction filled with highlights.

“It was a solid, middle-of-the-road sale,” said Todd Weyman, director of the print department at Swann.

Other sales included: James A.M. Whistler’s etching The Beggars, 1879-80, which sold for $31,200 (estimate: $30,000/50,000), and Nocturne, 1878, sold for $21,600 (estimate: $15,000/20,000); M.C. Escher’s woodcut Sky and Water I, 1938, which sold for $22,800 (estimate: $12,000/18,000), and his lithograph Three Worlds, 1955, which brought $19,200 (estimate: $10,000/15,000); Pablo Picasso’s drypoint Man Mounting a Woman, 1931, sold for $24,000 (estimate: $15,000/20,000) and his color collotype Portrait of Dora Maar, ca. 1960, earned $16,800 (estimate: $15,000/20,000).

Several lots sold well above expectations: a Picasso portfolio of 11 etchings, engravings and aquatints; Du Cubisme, 1947, which brought $18,000 compared with an estimate of $4,000/6,000; an etching by Charles Meryon, La Morgue, 1854, which brought $28,800, against an estimate of $5,000/8,000; Giovanni Piranesi’s etching An Immense Interior, 1749, sold for $15,600, on an estimate of $3,000/5,000; and Bror J.O. Nordfeldt’s color woodcut The Village Green, Twilight, 1906, which went for $15,600, on an estimate of $5,000/8,000.

Still, many of the lots came in slightly under estimate, including prints by Il Canaletto, such as a ca. 1740 etching Le Porte del Dolo, which sold for $8,400, missing the estimate of $10,000/15,000. A Rembrandt etching, Self Portrait Frowning: Bust, 1630, brought $24,000, below the estimated $30,000/50,000, and the ca.1632 etching The Raising of Lazarus sold for $26,400, compared with an estimate of $30,000/50,000. In addition, his ca.1641 The Triumph of Mordecai, sold for $9,000, compared with an estimate of $10,000/15,000.

Chagall’s color lithograph The Judgment of Chloe, 1961, brought $16,800, compared with an estimate of $20,000/30,000, and his color lithograph The Bird in the Studio, 1976, sold for $10,800, missing the estimate of $15,000/20,000. Also under its estimate was Picasso’s etching Minotaur and Girl, 1933, which brought $14,400, compared with an estimate of $15,000/20,000.

A collection of 88 etchings ca. 1660-5, by Salvator Rosa, sold for $6,240 (estimate: $10,000/15,000) and Rembrandt’s etching Christ Preaching, ca.1652, sold for $7,800, well under the estimate of $12,000-18,000.

In all, 278, or 74 percent, of the 376 lots in the sale found buyers, yielding a total of $1.7 million, just under the presale estimate of $1.76 million/2.7 million.

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