Unveiling Treasures: Highlights from Christie’s Classic Week Evening Sales

Christie’s Classic Week Evening sales have once again captivated the art world, delivering unprecedented results and setting new records.

The exceptional auctions, including The Exceptional Sale, Old Masters Part I Sale, and Remastered: Old Masters from the Collection of J.E. Safra, showcased a remarkable array of classical artworks that commanded significant attention from collectors and enthusiasts alike.

With astounding sell-through rates and remarkable prices achieved, these sales reaffirm the enduring appeal of Old Masters and their ability to transcend time, captivating audiences with their historical significance and artistic brilliance.

The sales realized a combined total of £68,156,85, with sell-through rates of 80% by lot and an impressive 92% by value. This resounding accomplishment is a testament to the exceptional quality and desirability of the artworks presented.

Sweerts’ Unpublished Canvas and Rembrandt’s Rediscovered Portrait

Among the highlights of the evening were extraordinary artworks that captivated collectors and set new records. Michael Sweerts‘ completely unpublished and previously unknown canvas depicting the artist’s studio emerged as a standout piece, fetching an astonishing £12,615,000.

Unveiling Unseen Treasures: Highlights from Christie's Classic Week Evening Sales
Michael Sweerts (Brussels 1618 -1664 GOA)
The Artist’s Studio with a Seamstress signed and inscribed ‘Michael Sweerts / Roma’

oil on canvas, unlined 31 3/8 x 42 3/4 in. (79.5 x108.4 cm.)
Price realised: £12,615,000

This sale not only celebrated the artistic prowess of Sweerts but also established a new auction record for the artist. Another remarkable achievement was the sale of Rembrandt’s Portrait of Jan Willemsz. van der Pluym and Jaapgen Carels, the last known pair of portraits by the master to remain in private hands. These remarkable artworks commanded a price of £11,235,000, surpassing their estimated value of £5,000,000-8,000,000.

Rembrandt Harmensz. Van Rijn (Leiden 1606 – 1669 Amsterdam)
Portrait of Jan Willemsz. van der Pluym (c.1565 – 1644), and Portrait of Jaapgen Carels (1565 – 1640), oil on panel, oval
the first 8 1/2 x 6 5/8 in. (20.8 x 16.7 cm.); the second 7 3/4 x 6 1/4 in. (19.9 x 16.7cm.)
Price realised: £11,235,000

The Exceptional Sale Highlights

The Classic Week London sales attracted significant attention from millennials, with 36% of new registrants coming from this dynamic generation. This notable statistic underscores the enduring appeal of classical art and its ability to resonate with younger audiences. The art market continues to evolve, embracing a new wave of passionate collectors who appreciate the historical significance and artistic brilliance of masterpieces from the past.

Christie’s Exceptional Sale, a cornerstone of the Classic Week Evening sales, achieved outstanding results. The sale totalled an impressive £11,214,300. Notable highlights included the majestic Studio of Hyacinthe Rigaud Portrait of Louis XIV in Coronation Robes, which sold for £1,915,500. This remarkable artwork stands as an outstanding example of its genre, deeply intertwined with the history of the Ducs de Noailles, a family closely associated with the French monarchy.

Unveiling Treasures: Highlights from Christie's Classic Week Evening Sales
Studio Of Hyacinthe Rigaud (Perpignan 1659-1743 Paris)
Portrait of Louis XIV (1638-1715), full-length, in coronation robes
Price realised: £1,915,500

Another remarkable piece that garnered significant attention was the late Louis VX Ormolu-mounted bois satine commode ‘A la Grecque,’ attributed to Simon Oeben, circa 1760-65. This superb example of 18th-century modernity sold for £655,200. The ‘commode à la grecque’ is part of a collection crafted by the esteemed Oeben brothers, who supplied their exquisite pieces primarily to Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764), the celebrated patroness of the 18th century, and her influential ally, the Duc de Choiseul (1719-1785).

Additionally, a pair of Louis XVI ormolu-mounted green granite vases, attributed to Jean-Baptiste Feuillet, circa 1780, sold for £642,600. These elegant vases, carved from a green flecked ‘granite de Vosges’ and adorned with striking lion-mask handles, exemplify the popularity of vases montés during the mid-1780s, reaching the pinnacle of fashion at the time.

Unveiling Treasures: Highlights from Christie's Classic Week Evening Sales
A Pair Of Louis Xvi Ormolu-mounted Green Granite Vases Attributed To Jean-Baptiste Feuillet, Circa 1780
Price realised £642,600

Amjad Rauf, International Head of Masterpiece and Private Sales: “This London Exceptional Sale was led by a re-discovery, the monumental Portrait of Louis XIV in Coronation Robes. Among the other captivating works offered, further highlights included two Italian Grand Tour and ancient Roman marble and alabaster tables from the famous Hope collection and mid-eighteenth-century French Royal bois satine commode from the Château de Fontainebleau. This highlights that our clients are very interested in the histories and stories of the works on offer, as well as their rarity and exquisite craftsmanship.”

Old Masters Part I Sale Sets New Records

The Old Masters Part I Sale, an integral part of Christie’s Classic Week Evening sales, achieved outstanding results, realizing £53,940,600. This sale witnessed the establishment of three new artist records for Sweerts, Fra Angelico, and Bartholomeus Van Der Helst. The exceptional works offered included a completely unpublished and unknown canvas by Michael Sweerts, which fetched £12,615,000, setting a new auction record for the artist.

The sale’s remarkable highlight was the rediscovery of the last known pair of portraits by Rembrandt in private hands. The Portrait of Jan Willemsz. van der Pluym and Jaapgen Carels, rare and intimate portrayals of the artist’s relatives, achieved an impressive £11,235,000, two centuries after their last appearance at Christie’s. Additionally, the pioneering early work by Fra Angelico, The Crucifixion with the Virgin, Saint John the Baptist, and the Magdalen at the Foot of the Cross, set a new auction record, selling for £5,001,000.

Unveiling Treasures: Highlights from Christie's Classic Week Evening Sales
Guido Di Piero, Fra Giovanni Da Fiesole, Posthumously Known As Fra Angelico (Near Vicchio, C. 1395/1400 1455, Rome)
The Crucifixion With The Virgin, Saint John The Baptist And The Magdalen Tempera On Gold Ground Panel, Arched, The Original Engaged Frame Regilded
25 1/8 X 15 In. (59.7 X 34.2 Cm.)
Price Realised: £5,001,000

Remastered: Old Masters from the Collection of J.E. Safra Success

The Remastered: Old Masters from the Collection of J.E. Safra auction showcased remarkable artworks, resulting in a total realization of £3,001,950. This sale witnessed the setting of two records for the medium, with works by George Chinnery and Matthias Withoos achieving exceptional prices.

Among the top lots were J.M.W. Turner’s masterful works, including Rocks at Colgong (Kahalgaon) on the Ganges, Bihar, India, which sold for £327,600, and Cassiobury, Hertfordshire, seen from the North-West, which achieved a price of £302,400. Jan Van Goyen’s River landscape with fishermen, painted in 1632, further captivated collectors, realizing £289,800.

Unveiling Treasures: Highlights from Christie's Classic Week Evening Sales
Jan Van Goyen’s River Landscape With Fishermen Realised £289,800

The success of the Remastered sale reaffirms the enduring appeal of Old Masters from the esteemed collection of J.E. Safra. Collectors and enthusiasts recognize the timeless beauty and historical significance of these masterpieces, contributing to their remarkable market performance.

In conclusion, Christie’s Classic Week Evening sales have once again demonstrated the enduring allure and immense value of classical artworks. The exceptional results achieved, along with the establishment of new records, exemplify the appreciation and passion collectors have for these masterpieces. As the art market continues to evolve, it remains evident that the timeless beauty and artistic brilliance of Old Masters resonate with a diverse range of audiences, ensuring their legacy for generations to come.

Images: Christie’s

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