London Old Master sales

November 21 2022

Image of London Old Master sales

Picture: Sotheby's

The London Old Master sale catalogues have gone online. Or rather, the Evening Sale catalogues have. For some reason, they only seem nowadays to put the Day Sale catalogues online just a couple of weeks before the sale. Which doesn't seem to me to be very conducive to buyers!

Anyway, at Sotheby's, they have a Venus and Adonis (above) by Titian and his workshop, estimated at £8m-£12m. It used to belong to Prince Eugene of Savoy. There are a number of fine Still Lifes, including a £1m-£1.5m Jan Davidsz. de Heem. The picture I'd most like to buy if I could is an oil sketch, Study for the White Horse, by John Constable, which once belonged to his daughter (£250k-£350k). 

Christie's sale has a newly identified Portrait of Erasmus by Hans Holbein the Younger, and his workshop, at £1m-£1.5m. Another 'and Studio' work is Rubens' portrait of Isabella Clara Eugenia, estimated at £400k-£600k. This appeared about a year ago as just 'Studio' of Rubens, but was withdrawn on the day of the sale, just as I was about to bid for it. Another reappearance is Van Dyck's Portrait of Henrietta Maria, estimated at £2m-£4m; it was offered at Sotheby's in 2015 at a lower estimate of £1.5m and didn't sell, but then it was subsumed within a larger canvas, having had some legs added in the 18th Century, to make it into a full length. The legs were a bit too long, so it wasn't an entirely happy result. But then, were the additions part of the painting's history? I suppose if you bought it, you can do what you like with it. Maybe the legs are still around somewhere. There's another Van Dyck in the sale, also newly identified; a crucifixion. I've seen it, and though it's catalogued as 'Van Dyck and Studio' it seems largely autograph to me, and I think a bit of a bargain at £150k-£250k. 

At Bonhams, they have a newly identified Gericault, a study for his famous Wounded Cuirassier. This seems quite reasonably estimated at £30,000-£50,000.  

Update - on the very day of my moan about the Day Sales, Sotheby's sale goes online. I like the Romney sketch of Emma Hamilton, here, and the two still lifes by Anna Ruysch here and here. Anna was the sister of Rachel Ruysch, and not much is known about her. Indeed, both of these were previously considered to be by Rachel, but have now been given to Anna. The are estimated respectively at £50k-£70k and £30k-£50k. Back in 1962, when considered to be by Rachel, the pair made £2,800.   

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