NEW YORK—Sotheby’s sale of 19th-century European art last month realized $20.5 million. Of 264 lots offered, 194, or 74 percent, were sold. By value the auction realized 80 percent.
Polly Sartori, Sotheby’s 19th-century European art expert, said buyers “have demonstrated they want to focus on the high end of the market. The quality was confirmed by an average lot value of $105,000.”
Buying by American collectors dominated the sale, particularly at the high end. All but one of the top ten lots fell to U.S. buyers. The sale was notable for the “unprecedented bidding by American private collectors,” Sartori said.
A record was set for artist Rosa Bonheur (1822-99) when King of the Forest, 1897, fetched $492,000 (estimate: $100,000/150,000). An earlier work by Bonheur, The Horse Fair, 1867, a watercolor, also exceeded expectations when it brought $480,000 (estimate: $250,000/350,000). Sotheby’s said the work is the largest version in watercolor of the artist’s most famous composition. The oil on canvas, The Horse Fair, that depicts the same subject matter was exhibited at the Paris salon in 1853; it is now in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
God Speed, 1900, by Edmund Blair Leighton, brought an underestimate $1 million (estimate: $1.2/1.8 million); and The Happy Pair (A Royal Procession), 1894, by Arthur John Elsley, sold for $768,000 (estimate: $700,000/900,000). The same price was realized for Parade to the Post, Kempton Park, by Sir Alfred James Munnings (estimate: $700,000/900,000). Le Sentier au Printemps, by Jean Baptiste-Camille Corot, took $540,000, triple the high estimate of $180,000).