Today’s sale at Sotheby’s, in London, really shows what can happen when a saleroom offers some nice quality works of art.
Coming in a distant second was Delacroix’s Le Combat – a 9 x 14 inch oil study at made £421,250 on an estimate of £300-£500,000; and bringing up the top five were Leo Putz’s Hinter den Kulissen at an above estimate £361,250; Max Liebermann’s Zwei Reiter am Strand Nach Links at £289,250 (which more than doubled its high estimate of £120,000); and a fabulous Carl Sptizweg titled Die Plauderstunde at £217,250 – also beating its high estimate of £120,000.
As with all the recent 19th century sales there was a section devoted to the Orientalist paintings and here again their hopes fell far short of expectations. Of the 28 works offered only 12 sold for a sell through rate of about 43%. I think it is time to realize that right now, unless they offer high quality Orientalist works, the Middle East is not going to save these sales … but then again, this sale did not need oil money to save it as many of the other sections did very well.
Here are a few additional highlights: Jacob Schikaneder’s Prague at Dusk made £205,250 against a £40-£60,000 estimate; Ziem’s La Sortie du Buccentaure devant la Quai des Esclavons brought £54,050 on a £10-£15,000 estimate; Kaemmerer’s Une Ascension en l’an VIII made £135,650 (estimate £40-£60,000) and Dargelas’ Le Tour du Monde made an over-the-top price of £68,450 on a £12-18,000 estimate.
The one surprise lot was Odd Nerdrum’s The Memory Hall. I say surprise because Odd was born in 1944 and this painting was done in 1985 so I am not sure how this fits into the 19th century; but in any event the painting sold for £67,250 on a £50-£70,000 estimate.
In the end, Sotheby’s offered up 178 lots of which 130 were sold (73% sell through rate) for a total take of £8,382,550. Now you might think that a 73% sell through rate is not very strong, but in the 19th century arena that is a strong percentage.
Howard L. Rehs is a dealer in 19th Century Art (www.rehs.com)