Christie’s Classic Week: Artistic Triumphs and Record Sales

In the enchanting realm of art auctions, Christie’s Classic Week Evening Sales proved to be a dazzling spectacle, showcasing a myriad of artistic masterpieces that captivated both seasoned collectors and a new wave of millennial enthusiasts.

The event comprised three distinct segments: the Old Masters Part I, the Ancient to Modern Art from the Mougins Museum of Classical Art, Part I, and The Sam Josefowitz Collection: Graphic Masterpieces by Rembrandt Van Rijn.

This article delves into the highlights, notable sales, and the overarching impact on the art market.

Old Masters Part I Sale: Rediscovering Canaletto and Sweerts’ Ingenuity

The Old Masters Part I Sale emerged as a triumph, achieving a combined total of £21,906,820, with a staggering 84% sell-through rate by lot and a remarkable 90% by value.

The spotlight shone brightly on Canaletto’s pair of Venetian vedute masterpieces, fetching an impressive £9,740,000.

These previously unpublished gems, painted circa 1734, rivalled the calibre of Canaletto’s renowned Grand Canal views in the Royal Collection.

Claude De Jongh (Utrecht C. 1605⁄6-1663) Old London Bridge, Viewed From The South

Equally intriguing was the ingenious work by Michael Sweerts, ‘A portrait of the artist (?), presenting the Virgin in Prayer,’ which defied expectations, realizing £1,734,000 against an estimate of £400,000-600,000.

Maja Markovic, Head of Old Masters Part I, London, expressed her enthusiasm, noting that the auction set a record and displayed a burgeoning demand for rare, singular works in impeccable condition.

Ancient to Modern Art from the Mougins Museum of Classical Art, Part I: A Fusion of Eras

The Ancient to Modern Art segment, showcasing treasures from the Mougins Museum, achieved a total of £4,302,900. Among the notable sales were Sir Antony Gormley’s ‘Reflection II,’ which exceeded expectations at £730,800, and Damien Hirst’s ‘The Severed Head of Medusa,’ selling for £567,000. The appeal of classical antiquity resonated strongly, with a Roman marble torso realizing £403,200.

Giorgio De Chirico- Achille Sulle Rive Del Mare Egeo

Amelia Walker and Claudio Corsi, specialists at Christie’s London, underscored the timeless allure of classical art, emphasizing the diverse array of works that attracted a substantial 67% of millennials among new bidders and buyers.

The Sam Josefowitz Collection: A Record-Breaking Triumph

The crowning jewel of Classic Week was The Sam Josefowitz Collection, specifically the Graphic Masterpieces by Rembrandt Van Rijn, achieving a remarkable total of £7,916,130. This sale not only boasted an exceptional 100% sell-through rate by lot but also marked the highest total for an Old Masters Print sale since 1985.

Tim Schmelcher, International Specialist at Christie’s London, highlighted the significance of Sam Josefowitz’s passion and connoisseurship, evident in the unprecedented success of the auction.

Rembrandt Harmensz. Van Rijn (1606-1669) Christ Preaching (‘la Petite Tombe’)

The collection set world record prices for 51 different subjects out of the 73 lots sold across the two sales, reaffirming its status as the greatest ensemble of Rembrandt’s graphic oeuvre in private hands.

Conclusion: A Pinnacle in Artistic Excellence

Christie’s Classic Week Evening Sales undeniably etched its place in art history, offering a captivating panorama of masterpieces spanning centuries. From the grandeur of Canaletto’s Venetian vistas to the timelessness of classical sculptures and the profound humanity in Rembrandt’s graphic treasures, this event transcended mere auctions, becoming a celebration of artistic excellence.

As they reflect on the astounding success of Classic Week, it’s evident that the art world continues to thrive, attracting a diverse audience and breaking records that will echo through the corridors of art history. This triumph is not just a testament to the monetary value of these masterpieces but, more importantly, to the enduring power of art to inspire and resonate across generations.

Images: Christie’s

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