What a difference a hat makes

May 1 2017

Image of What a difference a hat makes

Picture: Sotheby's

If you were impressed by the $10m Govaert Flinck sold in New York last week, but don't fancy spending quite as much, then the above portrait by Flinck is being offered by Sotheby's in London on Wednesday (in their mid-season Old Master sale) for £20k-£30k. A snip!

Ok, there's more to it than just the presence of a fine red hat, as seen in the New York picture. But the disparity in price is one of the reasons why I find the Old Master market so exciting, and mysterious. Because value is often so dictated by image - say, an interesting or attractive sitter in a portrait, as opposed to ugly sitter - it's sometimes possible to find as good a demonstration of an artist's technical virtuosity in a painting for £20k as you'll see in painting that costs $10m. 

You can browse the rest of the sale here. There are some fine pictures, including this handsome portrait (see, even I'm swayed by image) by Hoppner of Sir George Murray, one of Wellington's key generals. That seems cheap at £15k-£20k. Hoppner seems under-valued these days. 

Update - the Flinck made £75k. The Hoppner £56k. AHN always picks winners...

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