Reuters talks to George Wachtel at Sotheby’s about the Old Master market:
“The thing about the Old Masters market … this market has been changing for five years. You are not able to sell everything on the market. But the high-quality, top-flight quality (pieces) will,” George Wachter, co-chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department, said in an interview. “No one would have guessed that van Dyck would sell triple the world record. For the best of the best its nine people bidding away.”
Souren Melikian singles out a few of the Old Master works sold last week that didn’t get the attention of the Raphael, van Dyck and Rembrandt:
an outdoor scene with riders and travelers stopping by a fountain in a wide-open landscape by Philips Wouwerman hardly caught the attention it deserved. The panel is unsigned, which partly explains the comparative neglect suffered by a work ranking among the most beautiful by the Dutch master. Yet, no one would question its authorship. It was reproduced in 1750 in an engraving by Jean Moyreau in his book on Wouwerman’s oeuvre. […] At £361,250, the Wouwerman was a magnificent acquisition made by the leading European dealer in Dutch masters, Johnny Van Haeften of London.The portrait of a young woman holding up a wicker basket filled with plums by Cesar Boetius van Everdingen is the ultimate rarity. The work of the Dutch master hardly ever appears at auction. The artist was among the painters who decorated between 1647 and 1652 the Great Hall of the House of Orange, the Oranjezaal, in the royal Huis ten Bosch in The Hague. The Dutch scholar Paul Huys Janssens, who examined the newly discovered picture, considers it to have been painted between 1645 and 1650 — the basket, an African artifact from Brazil, ties in with the depiction of Brazilian objects in the Oranjezaal. Sotheby’s reckoned that the portrait might be knocked down between £50,000 and £70,000. The excitement caused by the discovery of an Everdingen sent it shooting up to £1.16 million, more than 10 times the high estimate.
Looking for Gems When the Going Gets Rough (NY Times)
Old Masters Soar Despite Global Woes (Reuters)