Category: Auctions

Downman's Portraits of Nelson and Emma Hamilton Re-emerge

October 31 2020

Image of Downman's Portraits of Nelson and Emma Hamilton Re-emerge

Picture: Charles Miller Ltd.

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A pair of recently rediscovered portraits of Lord Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton are coming up for sale next month.

These two sketches were made by the artist John Downman (1750-1824) and are signed and dated with the year 1802. The drawings bear an inscription that indicates that their likenesses were captured at the couple's house in Merton. The catalogue note also suggests that the elaborate frames, which may have been carved by a sailor, were added when the drawings were in the collection of Admiral WH Symth (d.1865).

The pair are coming up for sale at Charles Miller Ltd. on 24th November 2020 and carry a tempting estimate of £8,000 - £12,000.

Sleeper Alert!

October 30 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Rennes Enchères

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @MWeilc) that the above bronze catalogued as '18th century' realised €164,800 over its €500 estimate at Rennes Enchères auctions last week.

Baltimore Museum of Art Withdraws Works from Sale

October 29 2020

Image of Baltimore Museum of Art Withdraws Works from Sale

Picture: Sotheby's via.

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

In a shocking 11th hour move the Baltimore Museum of Arts withdrew several works of art from Sotheby's Contemporary Art sale in New York last night. The museum has also announced that it has paused the sale of Andy Warhol's The Last Supper. The museum had been hoping to raise $65m from the sales for what they had described as an 'endowment for the future'.

The museum seem to have been responding to the outcry of donors and a public petition from several members of the Association of Museum Directors. The association's president had two days ago written the following lines in a letter clarifying its stance to all members:

I recognize that many of our institutions have long-term needs—or ambitious goals—that could be supported, in part, by taking advantage of these resolutions to sell art... But however serious those long-term needs or meritorious those goals, the current position of AAMD is that the funds for those must not come from the sale of deaccessioned art.

The museum have also issued the following statements regarding the withdrawal:

Our vision and our goals have not changed. It will take us longer to achieve them, but we will do so through all means at our disposal. That is our mission and we stand behind it.

Here is the museum's statement in full.

Dorotheum Auction

October 19 2020

Image of Dorotheum Auction

Picture: Dorotheum

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Vienna's Dorotheum auction house have published their two Old Master paintings catalogues online. There are many interesting pictures to look through as usual, including a Jan Steen and Jacob van Ruisdael as their top lots.

I thought the painting above by Bicci di Lorenzo (1368-1452) to be the most curious of all. This Scene from the Life of Saint Nicholas of the child restored to his parents, estimated at €150,000 - €200,000, is not the sort of story we often hear being told of the saint at Christmas.

Proceeds from Göring's Cuyp to be Split

October 15 2020

Image of Proceeds from Göring's Cuyp to be Split

Picture: The Art Newspaper

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper has published an article relating to the above painting of a hunter by Aelbert Cuyp. The picture had belonged to the dealer Jacques Goudstikker who fled the Netherlands when the Nazis invaded in 1940. It then ended up in the collection of Hermann Göring.

Last year the painting resurfaced at auction and was identified by the Goudstikker Art Research Project. The present owner has agreed to share the proceeds of the painting with the heirs of the Goudstikker estate when it comes up for auction next month in Frankfurt. The article suggests the work is valued at €700,000.

Paris Biennale Christie's Sale Results

October 12 2020

Image of Paris Biennale Christie's Sale Results

Picture: The Art Newspaper

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper has published an article on the disappointing results of the recent Paris Biennale sale at Christie's. The auction generated a total of €1.5m (including commission) with only 21 out of 91 lots sold. The presale estimate was between €7m to €10m.

There were a few impressive results, including the above Virgin and Child with a Parrot which made 150,000 over its 120k - 180k estimate.

The article quotes a French trade source who said:

this was a good idea that went wrong…for this to have been a success, the auction needed to include some exceptional works.

However, in defense of the sale Biennale board member Marella Rossi Mosseri said:

There were some exceptional pieces. The [sale] result was not the aim, the aim was to get people talking about La Biennale. The [initiative] also brought people into the galleries.


As I pointed out in June, making a success out of dealer lead auctions isn't always as easy as it might first appear. Buyers generally tend to like fresh-on-the-market pictures, rather than ones that dealers may have already presented at several fairs. Equally, if the estimates aren't tempting enough, as the mark-up dealers add on for costs such as restoration etc., then this may prevent bidders from getting involved.

On the other hand, and as this blog points out, the market for sleepers seems to be as vibrant as ever!

Sleeper Alert!

October 11 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Marion Auctions

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @RohanGreyFA) that this portrait catalogued as 'Drawing of a Nobleman' just achieved a staggering $430,000 over its $200 - $300 estimate at Marion Auctions in the USA. It bears the signature I L and the date 1653.

Eagle eyed art historians on Twitter have also worked out that it is in fact a portrait of Admiral Maarten Harpertsz Tromp.

Updated - I should have mentioned that the name Jan Lievens has been suggested on Twitter as the likely candidate.

Recognise this Country House?

October 10 2020

Image of Recognise this Country House?

Picture: Kingham and Orme

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here's a rather nice painting that sold at the Kingham and Orme auction today. This unidentified landscape, featuring a timber framed country house and garden, sold for £17,000 over its £400 - £500 estimate. It looks like it may date to the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

A fun appeal has been made on the Country Houses of the UK and Ireland Facebook page if anyone can identify the house. Might a reader of AHN have any idea, perhaps?

Here is a closeup of the house featured within the painting:

Update - AHN reader David Bailey has gotten in touch to make the suggestion of Packwood House in Warwickshire. The gables do look remarkably similar, and have undergone restoration in recent times of course.


Sell the Kandinskys and Schieles, say Deutsche Bank

October 8 2020

Image of Sell the Kandinskys and Schieles, say Deutsche Bank

Picture: Deutsche Bank

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Deutsche Bank is the latest organisation to announce that it will begin selling off parts of its art collection. The Art Newspaper have reported that the bank is to start selling over 200 works in the next three years, beginning with three works by Wassily Kandinsky and Egon Schiele. The bank is said to have around 55,000 works of art in its collection, focusing mostly on works on paper and photographs.

The article features an interview with the bank's art department head Friedhelm Hütte who says:

“We are not as active in exhibiting and loaning this older part of our collection, and that is a shame,” Hütte says. “These works are very valuable and some of them have to stay in storage.”

The proceeds expected from upcoming the auctions “are not of the dimensions to strengthen the bank’s finances,” Hütte says. “This relatively small sum is great for buying art.” 

“This is linked to our continued commitment to artists and galleries, which is particularly important at the moment,”

The bank is currently in the process of cutting a reported 18,000 jobs in a major restructuring plan.

Music & Commentary at Christie's

October 7 2020

Image of Music & Commentary at Christie's

Picture: Christie's via. Facebook

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Whilst scrolling through Facebook this evening I came across a live feed of Christie's 20th Century Evening Sale.

It seems that they have introduced a few new features. This includes background music, during the climax of bidding wars, and some live commentary from staff. It feels a bit like a sporting event, which is probably what they are trying to achieve. It's rather hard to replicate the excitement of being in a saleroom. I wonder if these new features will help sell pictures?

Bonhams Old Masters Sale

October 7 2020

Image of Bonhams Old Masters Sale

Picture: Bonhams

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The auction house Bonhams have uploaded their upcoming Old Master Paintings sale online. The sale will take place in London on 21st October 2020.

Lots of interesting paintings as usual with extremely tempting estimates. I won't spoil the fun of pointing out those that might do well.

My eye was drawn to this rather fun unidentified musician catalogued as 'Circle of Johann Kerseboom'. It's so well painted that we can read the music score that is in front him. It shows a piece identified as 'Mr Lane's Maggot'. The piece was published in a music book dated to 1695. Yet, it may be a transcription of an earlier dance relating to King Charles II's dancing master 'Mr Lane'. Here's a link to the song on YouTube if you're curious as to what it sounds like. WARNING: The song is a real earworm.

Update - I've transcribed the song for my lute and published the recording here.

Marquess of Huntly Returning Home

October 7 2020

Image of Marquess of Huntly Returning Home

Picture: Sarasota Estate Auctions

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Antiques Trade Gazette has published a small story that the above portrait of George Gordon, 2nd Marquess of Huntly, has been purchased by the Marquess's descendant. The painting came up for sale in Florida last month, catalogued as 'Manner of Anthony Van Dyck' and made $37,000 (hammer price). It has been purchased by Alastair Granville Gordon, Earl of Aboyne, and son of the 13th Marquess of Huntly. The picture will be returning to Aboyne Castle in Scotland.

The best version of this composition, perhaps the prime version although suffering with condition issues, is owned by the Duke of Buccleuch.

Sleeper Alert!

October 7 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Cornette de Saint Cyr

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @auctionradar) that this painting of Mary Magdalene catalogued as 'Attributed to Rubens' sold for €320,000 over its €4k - €6k estimate at the auction house Cornette de Saint Cyr today. It seems that someone was able to see past the condition issues of this rather cracked panel. Also, it's probably best not to let the eye linger for too long on the structure of her throat and neck. I wonder if we will see the painting again with a dealer in the near future.

American Museums Poised to Sell $100m of Art

October 6 2020

Image of American Museums Poised to Sell $100m of Art

Picture: Baltimore Museum of Art

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: has published an article highlighting that a selection of American Museums are poised to sell $100m of Art this season at auction. The aforementioned changes to rules from the Association of Museum Directors in the wake of the COVID crisis is clearly playing a part in the sell-off strategies.

The most recent American museum to announce that it is selling items from its collections is the Baltimore Museum of Art. Amongst the three works that will be consigned is Andy Warhol's The Last Supper (pictured), a rip-off of Leonardo's iconic fresco, of course. The museum hope to raise $65m from the sales which include siphoning off money for a broad "equity initiative". 

The Washington Post ran an article on the Baltimore Museum's announcement giving quotes from their director:

BMA Director Christopher Bedford, who believes Warhol would have given the sale his “hearty blessings,” has said the museum is in good financial shape. The underlying motive for the sale, Bedford said Friday, was to address systemic racism and injustice that “should have been addressed with determination centuries ago.” Those factors, he added, provide “more than enough justification” for the museum to sell the works.

“The moral imperative,” he said, “prevails over all.”

Curiously, it appears that it is mostly twentieth century art that is being consigned for sale thus far. To this date only the Brooklyn Museum have committed old master paintings to the saleroom.

Sotheby's October Sales

October 5 2020

Image of Sotheby's October Sales

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sotheby's have just published their October NY 'Master Paintings' sale on their website. This online sale runs from 7th - 14th October 2020.

The top lot is this fine architectural capriccio by Bernardo Bellotto estimated at $700k - $900k and sold by the San Diego Museum of Art. Also noteworthy is this nice Jordaens of the Triumphant Christ estimated at $200k - $300k; a pair of Panini roman ruins estimated at $60k - $80k; a Last Supper by Sebastiano Ricci estimated at $200k - $300k;  and fine battle scene by Apollino di Giovanni estimated at $200k - $300k.

I'm also rather fond of the picture above by Joseph Marcellin Combette, showing his wife painting at an easel. This work carries a very reasonable estimate of $6k - $8k.

Also not to be forgotten is The Collection of Ambassador and Mrs. Felix Rohatyn, which includes some very fine eightheenth century pictures including a magnificent Canaletto of the Rialto Bridge estimated at $3m - $5m.

Sell the Hockney, say the Royal Opera House

October 4 2020

Image of Sell the Hockney, say the Royal Opera House

Picture: The Guardian

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Royal Opera House in London has announced that it is selling a portrait by David Hockney to raise £18m for essential funds. Hockney's 1971 portrait of former director Sir David Webster is set to be sold at Christie's later this year carrying an estimate of £11m - £18m.

The Royal Opera House's chief executive Alex Beard is quoted saying:

This was a really tough call, but we have to face the situation we are in and if we can remain viable and get through this, then we can get back to employing people in the future.

We are the biggest arts employer in the country and we knew we had to look at any assets we had, and there is only really one of any note that stands out and that is this portrait.

The organisation is set to make redundancies as well as begin a drive for donations.


Such drastic measures from such prestigious cultural institutions are very worrying indeed. One can't help but have sympathy for theatres and their employees who are being so brutally punished for following government guidelines. Yet, it's also sad to see that the plundering of historic collections, or 'assets' as they refer to them, are the only way out of this mess.

It seems that this portrait carries a great deal of spiritual significance to the Royal Opera House in both historic and aesthetic terms. Although I'm hardly the right person to make any judgements on twentieth century art, personally I'm left wondering whether this picture really has as much market appeal as some of Hockney's more celebrated works. It has a rather institutional aesthetic about it, resembling the charm of a dentist waiting room. 

We'll wait and see if this is a growing trend.

Christie's NY Online Sale

October 1 2020

Image of Christie's NY Online Sale

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A quick note that the Christie's NY online auction, the equivalent to the usual 'day sale', has been uploaded online. Bidding runs from 1st - 20th October 2020.

There are too many interesting pictures to point out, so I'll leave this pleasure to readers to find their favourites. This painting of a Young woman resting on her hand, 'Attributed to Rubens', certainly has an intriguing catalogue note.

There is even a chance to own a painting which had once belonged to Emperor Napoleon III. The above painting of Isabel de Requesens, after Giulio Romano and housed in an extravagant Dutch frame, is estimated at $30k - $50k.

Sleeper Alert!

October 1 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Coutau-Bégarie

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @neiljeffares) that the above unidentified pastel made €115,000 at the auction house Coutau-Bégarie yesterday. Neil Jeffares pointed out that it is another version of the professor, mathematician and Catholic priest Le père François de Paule Jacquier by Guillame Voiriot (1712/9-1799). More information can be found via this link to (page 2).

Sleeper Alert!

September 29 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Cabral Moncada Leilões

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @auctionradar) that this painting of 'The Martyrdom of Saint Peter of Verona' catalogued as 'Spanish School, 17th cent' made €275,000 over its €1,500 estimate at the auction house Cabral Moncada Leilões yesterday. The frame bears an old attribution to Murillo.

$20m - $30m Rembrandt at Sotheby's

September 29 2020

Image of $20m - $30m Rembrandt at Sotheby's

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sotheby's have just announced that they will be offering Rembrandt's Abraham and the Angels in their January sale in New York. The work, which is signed and dated 1646, will carry an estimate of $20m - $30m. It seems the work will be sold in the same sale as the recently announced $80m Botticelli.

The auction house's press release claims:

This is almost certainly the last opportunity to acquire a painting of a biblical narrative from the Old Testament by Rembrandt, as the only other painting by the artist that depicts a biblical narrative remains in a private collection in the United Kingdom and is subject to British patrimony protection.


With all of these top paintings coming out of the woodwork for auction, I wonder what will be next? 


Update  - have published the following information regarding the work's provenance:

The work was last sold at auction in 1848 for just £64 at Christie’s, according to the work’s ownership record. Its first recorded owner in 1647 was Dutch entrepreneur Martin van den Broeck. It changed hands several times, and passed through the collections of Benjamin West and Sir Thomas Baring. For decades the work remained in the Heemstede-base von Pannwitz family collection through descent. It then went to the prominent Old Masters collector Alfred Bader in 2004, and from there it came into the hands of veteran dealer Otto Naumann, who is now Sotheby’s Senior vice President and Client Development Director. The present owner acquired it in 2006.

Notice to "Internet Explorer" Users

You are seeing this notice because you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 (or older version). IE6 is now a deprecated browser which this website no longer supports. To view the Art History News website, you can easily do so by downloading one of the following, freely available browsers:

Once you have upgraded your browser, you can return to this page using the new application, whereupon this notice will have been replaced by the full website and its content.