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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Speaking of Record Prices at Auction ...

Speaking of auction record prices ... Recently at Sotheby’s in London, a rare work by Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez 1599 - 1660 – Saint Rufina, sold for £8,420,000 ($17,003,348), setting a new world auction record for the artist, and also becoming the most expensive Old Master Painting by a Spanish artist ever sold at auction.

Saint Rufina was one of only a handful of works by the artist ever to have come to auction. A work of particular intimacy and simplicity, Saint Rufina may even have reflected the likeness of one of the artist’s own daughters, Francisca or Ignacia, who were aged around twelve and fourteen years old when the painting was executed in the early 1630s.

The good news is that the painting was bought by the Focus Abengoa Foundation from Seville, the painter’s birthplace.
Alex Bell, head of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings department in London, said: “I am thrilled that this beautiful portrait of Seville’s patron saint has found a permanent home in the artist’s birthplace.”

Following the sale, Anabel Morillo León, the Managing Director of the foundation said “We are absolutely delighted to have had the opportunity to bring the painting back to Seville, and to its people, who have shown such interest in this image of the city’s patron saint. The success of this joint effort between the Town Hall and the Focus Abengoa Foundation is a model of cooperation that will benefit the city of Seville.” “The Town Hall and the Focus-Abengoa Foundation have reached an understanding to work together to promote Velázquez’s oeuvre for 75 years. This agreement will encompass the creation of a centre to house the work by the artist, including Santa Rufina and La imposición de la Casulla a San Ildefonso, as well as a library and documentation centre on the life of this painter who is so important to the people of Seville.”

While Saint Rufina was the highlight of Sotheby’s evening sale of Old Master Paintings, the auction began with the sale of Turner watercolours from the collection of Guy and Myriam Ullens. Spanning 44 years of Turner’s career, the 14 works offered represented the finest group of watercolours by the artist to have come to the market since the 1920s.

After the sale, Baron Guy Ullens said: “The decision to part with the Turner watercolours was a difficult one. My wife Myriam and I have enjoyed the privilege of living surrounded by Turner’s genius for many years, and their absence now will be acute. But parting with these wonderful works has been made easier because of the knowledge that they will now be enjoyed by other collectors. The success of this evening’s sale means that we now have the additional resources we need to pursue a dream that Myriam and I both treasure: the building of a museum for Contemporary Art in Beijing.”

Aside from the record price for the Velázquez, eight further auction records were achieved,. Among the most notable new records was that for a work by Jan Brueghel the Elder, whose harrowing depiction of hell (Aeneas and the Sybil in the Underworld) realised £1,924,000 (17,003,348 ). Unrecorded until its rediscovery in 2001, the work was the only known example of the artist’s famous hell scenes remaining in private hands.

Raphael Portrait Goes to Private Collection

On May 28th I expressed the hope that Raphael's portrait of Lorenzo de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino -- which was soon to go up for auction -- would go to a public museum rather than a private collection. ArtDailyNews calls it: "The most important Renaissance portrait to be offered at auction for a generation, and the most important work by the artist to be offered at auction in recent decades."

The remarkable painting sold at Christies in London yesterday after a ten minute bidding battle. It went to an anonymous private collector bidding over the telephone .

Oh, well.

It sold for £18,500,000 ($37,277,500). This is a world record price for the artist at auction and a world record price for an Italian Old Master picture. Yes, indeed, there are some rather wealthy people in the world!

The Raphael was the highlight of the auction, but plenty of other magnificent works were snapped up. Said a Christies spokesperson, "This evening’s sale attracted clients from around the world, including a significant number who were new to the category, and particularly competitive bidding was seen for the best works on offer.

We are pleased with the price achieved by [the Baroque master Domenico Zampieri] Il Domenichino’s Pietà which sold for £3.04 million, a record price for the artist at auction. Venus and Cupid by Sir Peter Lely sold to a private collector within the estimate of £1,500,000-2,000,000.”

Portrait of a Lady by Lucas Cranach II (1515-1586), far exceeded its pre-sale estimate of £500,000-700,000, eventually selling to an anonymous bidder in the room for £1,812,000 ($3,651,180), setting a world record price for the artist at auction.
The Revel of Baachus and Silenus by Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678), which had been hidden from public view since 1953, realised £1,700,000 ($3,425,500).
The Woodland Maid by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) realised £1,196,000 ($2,409,940).