James Tarmy makes the case for Victorian art on Bloomberg. His point is that there are precious few artists with secondary markets and market history. Add to that a large supply and some new dealers emerging in the space. That should present some great opportunities:Continue Reading
The overall numbers on London’s series of 19th Century European art and sculpture, Pre-Raphaelite and Victorian art sales obscure some very strong results at the top end of the market. Like many markets these days, the sales seemed to be skewed toward a few lots that attracted bidders driving the works substantially over the estimates.
In Sotheby’s sale of Pre-Raphaelite, Victorian and British Impressionist art, that was true of the top four lots including works by Sir George Clausen, Henry Herbert La Thangue, John Atkinson Grimshaw and John MacVicar Anderson. In 19th Century European paintings, Harald Sohlberg’s Fisherman’s Cottage reached a stunning £1.2m and Peder Severin Kroyer’s Wine Harvest in the Tryol doubled the high estimate to sell for £236k.
Christie’s Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite sale was topped by a painting by John Atkinson Grimshaw of Glasgow that made £185k and works bye Edward Reginald Frampton and Herbert James Draper that reached £173k each.
Sotheby’s announces the sale of four Joaquín Sorolla works through its 19th Century department. But the twist is that the sale will be split between London and New York:
Linking the two lead Sorollas – Buscando mariscos, to be offered in New York, and Playa de Valencia to be offered in London – is their shared American exhibition history, the two canvases having been shown together in Chicago and St Louis in 1911. There Playa de Valencia was bought by West Coast businessman and philanthropist Frederick Forrest Peabody when it was shown in Chicago, while Buscando mariscos was probably purchased in 1912 or 1913 by St Louis press baron Joseph Pulitzer II, publisher of the Post-Dispatch.
Polly Sartori, Head of Sotheby’s 19th Century European Paintings department in New York, said: ‘Sotheby’s sale of these paintings could not be timelier, with the exhibition ‘Sorolla and America’ at the Meadows Museum in Dallas due to open in December. Sorolla eloquently noted his gratitude to America and the repercussions of the blockbuster one-man exhibitions held in the US during his lifetime can still be felt today.’
Both Buscando mariscos and Playa de Valencia come to the market for the first time in their histories, their sale preceding the opening of the comprehensive exhibition Sorolla and America at the Meadows Museum in Dallas, Texas. Running from 13 December 2013 until 19 April 2014, the exhibition will explore for the first time Sorolla’s unique relationship with the United States in the early 20th century.
Bonhams release on the sale calls out these works:
TheIonian Dance by Sir Edward John Poynter, rediscovered after almost 100 years out of the spotlight, was the highlight of Bonhams’ 19th Century Paintings sale today on 10th July, selling for £301,250 to the successful buyer amongst a multitude of telephone bidders.
Charles O’Brien, Head of Bonhams 19th Century Pictures department commented, “With 80% of lots sold and a sale total of just under £2.8million we were thrilled with the result yesterday.”
Other highlights from the sale included an eerie midnightharbour scene, Glasgow Docks (circa 1883) by John Atkinson Grimshaw which sold for £205,250 to a bidder on the telephone. Another notable lot was Stanhope Alexander Forbes’ harbour scene showing a sailor heading out to sea by candlelight ominously entitled Out into the Dark and Silence which realised £181,250.
When we last left off, Christie’s was about to present their 19th century European Painting sale in New York on the 29th. I will begin by saying that they did do their best to slim down the offerings … just 95 lots in the sale and as with all of these sales, the catalogs always look great, but the real test was going to come during the viewing — did the works look good in person? In addition, the “Frankenstorm” (Sandy) was scheduled to hit the New York area on the Sunday before the sale and run through Wednesday – uh oh!
We decided not to take any chances so we viewed the sale first thing Friday morning and as expected there were some very nice works and some that were going to be difficult to find new homes … and most of those were due to condition issues.
Among the paintings we really liked were a couple of Corots, a nice Lhermitte, a couple of Bouguereaus, a Stevens, Boldini, Barber, Grimshaw, Sorbi and a Dawson. The works that fell into the nice category were Monsted, Schuller, Godward, Tadema, Santoro, Kuhnert and Herring. And those I could do without included works by Corot (seriously overcleaned), Bridgman (not one of his best days), Bonheur (price seemed way off the mark), Dagnan-Bouveret (which had extensive pigment separation), a Bouguereau that had definitely lost some of its luster, some Vastagh’s which looked far better in the catalog than they did in person and a few others that had seen better days.
Well, the storm hit New York and it was a whopper … causing the Christie’s sale to be postponed for a few days … not a good thing. In addition, the stock market was not having a good run that week and then there was the presidential election – all forces beyond Christie’s control.
The sale took place on November 1 (three days late) and NYC was still a mess – most people could not get in or out. We relied on iffy phone service to bid; however, the better works seemed to pull through while those that were less than stellar had a really tough go. I have said this before, the main issue with auction sales is that they take place on a specific day, at a specific time, and if things go wrong with the weather, stock market, etc. the sale can be impacted – not a good thing for the sellers, but for the buyers it can be a bonanza if they step up to the plate!!!!
Taking the top slot in this sale was Alma-Tadema’s Ask Me No More which brought $2.2M (est. $2-$3M), in second was Bouguereau’s Pandora, a painting that I was not impressed with, that brought $602K (est. $600-$800K) and in third was Bridgman’s Interieur d’un palais Arabe at $291K (est. $200-$300K) … another work that left me wondering. Rounding out the top 5 were Godward’s A Pompeian Lady at $291K ($300-$500K) and Alfred Stevens’ Melancolie that made $219K (est. $200-$300K) – it was worth more.
There were a number of other works that sold ‘cheaply’; these included paintings by Corot, Dupré, Dawson, Herring, Lhermitte and Sorbi. And there were a number of big lots that did not sell … these included paintings by Bouguereau, Grimshaw, Barber (nice painting but the estimate was just too high), Tissot, Corot and Boldini. In fact, of the 5 works with the highest estimates, only 1 sold — combined they expected at least $7.5M for them and only generated $2.2M … not good.
When the day ended, of the 95 works offered 59 sold (62%) and the total take was $6.65M (lower end of the estimate range was $13.1M – so they were WAY SHORT). Now, some of the works offered had issues and probably would not have found buyers anyway since buyers are very choosy; however, there were others that did not sell that probably should have and prices for some of the better works were not as strong as they would have been. It is my feeling that the weather, election and stock market took a heavy toll on the results.
The following week the competition had their 19th century sale … which also took a little hit from the Nor’easter that decided to pay a visit to NY … Mother Nature gave us the one two punch!
As we have seen over the past few years they tried their best to make this sale slim and trim and while there were no double digit million dollar works offered, the results, given the circumstances, were ok. Taking the top slot here was Bouguereau’s The Cherry Branch which sold for $1.54M (est. $1.5-$2M) … had the work been in better condition, I am sure it would have made much more. In second was Lavery’s The Green Sofa which sold for $1.3M (est. $700-$1M) and in third was an extremely nice Ludwig Deutsch titled The Scholars which brought $1.1M (est. $400-$600K). Rounding out the top 5 were another Bouguereau, La Tasse de Lait, at $927K (est. $750-$950K) – to me, the figure looked like a bobble-head – and a nice Stevens’, La Villa des Falaises a Sainte-Adresse, at $627K (est. $500-$700K – it last sold in 1996 for $443K).
Overall, the sale was better than the competitions and in the end, of the 105 works offered, 68 sold (64.8%) and the total take was $12.9M (the low end of their estimate range was $14.9M … so they fell a little short, but far superior to the competition); given the circumstances the results were better than I would have expected.
When it comes to the 19th century market what we are seeing is that there is strong support for the bigger names and those paintings that have ‘wall-power’. The more general works are selling when there is ‘individual’ interest … meaning that there is one potential buyer who is willing to pay the reserve price. After that, if the condition is troubling, the estimate is just too high or the work is just not a very good one … there is no support. At the Sotheby’s sale only 26 of the paintings offered appeared to have competitive bidding while Christies only had 19 (meaning those works that sold for more than the lower end of the estimate range – normally where sellers set their reserve).