Art News & Views

Auction Reports

What happened and what's forthcoming


Post Auctions

Kashmir sapphire tops jewels sale in Hong Kong
June 1

Jewels: The Hong Kong Sale realized $60.4 million and was 89% sold by lot, 94% sold by value. The top lot of the sale was a magnificent single-strand jadeite bead necklace which sold for $7.3 million.

“At more than US$60 million, this auction is the most important ever organized by Christie's anywhere in the world. This confirms the position of Hong Kong and Asia as a premier centre for the finest jewels and gems. It is interesting to note that the Kashmir sapphire bracelet which sold for US$6.9 million had been sold by Christie's previously in 1988 for US$902,000, which represents US$1.7 million in today's currency. Kashmir sapphires, Golconda diamonds, natural pearls, and important jade are faring better than ever, with prices reaching new levels with which we are confident,” said Vickie Sek, Director of the Jewellery and Jadeite Department, Christie's Asia.

Raza sets world record in Souza trailblazer
June 9 and 10

The two day sale of South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art Including Property From The Estate of Francis Newton Souza realised a total of $18,092,364 and was 98% sold by value and 91% sold by lot.

The top lot was Syed Haider Raza's (b. 1922), 'Saurashtra', 1983 which fetched $3,486,965, setting a World Auction Record for any Modern Indian Work of Art and a World Auction Record for the Artist. This monumental painting was bought by a Private Indian Museum.

Earlier the sale of Property from the Estate of Francis Newton Souza realised £5,449,025 and was 99% sold by value and 97% by lot. The top lot was Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002), 'Red Curse', 1962 which realised £881,250.

Hugo Weihe, Christie's International Director of Asian Art and Yamini Mehta, Head of Sale commented, “This sale represents records of every kind. Showing the depth of enthusiasm and passion to obtain rare objects, the sale realised an overall total of £12.4 million, becoming the most valuable sale of this category in history. The monumental work 'Saurashtra' by Syed Haider Raza set a World Auction Record not only for the artist but for any modern Indian art in history. We are thrilled that this work will return to India as a fitting tribute to the artist and a celebration of art from this region. Elsewhere in the various owner section of the sale, 10 June, a carefully selected array of iconic works by modern and contemporary masters was met with true enthusiasm and depth of bidding throughout. Six new Artist World Auction Record Prices were set, including: Aisha Khalid, Sunil Gawde, Naiza Khan, Imran Qureshi and Soren Pors & Aparna Rao. We are honoured that Maqbool Fida Husain attended the auction and was pleased that he saw all works by his hand sell successfully. Masterworks by Subodh Gupta, Gaitonde and Tyeb Mehta all roared past their high estimates and cemented this sale as a benchmark for the season, the year and beyond.”

Bouguereau tops old masters
June 9

Christie's New York sale of Old Masters & 19th Century Art featuring Select Works from the Salander-O'Reilly Galleries achieved $11,749,750 with sell-through rates of 60% by lot, 78% by value.

The top lot of the sale was William Bouguereau's Pietà, painted in 1876, which sold for $2,770,500 the second highest price at auction for this artist. This exceptional painting was purchased by a new collector to the field and directly underbid by a collector of Old Master paintings.

Nicholas Hall, International Co-Head, and Ben Hall, Head of Department, for Old Masters & 19th Century Art commented: “The market for Old Masters and 19th Century Art continued to rebound this week at Christie's, with our mid-season sale achieving an $11.7 million result that is nearly double that of last June's sale.”

A spirited round of bidding preceded the sale of our top lot. They added, “We are also pleased to have achieved the top price for an Old Master painting this season with the sale of Pieter Brueghel II's Autumn for $866,500. The afternoon sale session devoted to select works from the Salander O'Reilly Galleries realized $2 million, with strong results for works from the studio of El Greco and the studio of Sir Anthony Van Dyck.”

India's big Day recalled at £1.7m
June 2

A painting which celebrates India's Republic Day 26th January 1950 was sold at Bonhams for £120,000 in a sale of Modern & Contemporary Middle Eastern & South Asian Art.

A packed saleroom and keen bidding took the 86 lot sale to a final total of £1.7m with 97 per cent sold by value. Bhupen Khakhar's (India, 1934-2003) oil on canvas titled 'Republic Day', was estimated to sell for a conservative £30,000-40,000. The work was keenly contested for by a number of overseas buyers and tripled its top estimate to £120,000.

The Republic Day of India commemorates the date on which the Constitution of India came into force replacing the Government of India Act 1935.

The top lot in the sale was a stunning turquoise and gold jar painted by Iranian artist Farhad Moshiri which made £150,000 against an estimate of £40,000 to £60,000. A second Moshiri sold for £48,000. Moshiri's work 'Eshgh' (Love) was the first work by a Middle Eastern artist to sell for over $1m at auction with Bonhams in Dubai two years ago.

Strong prices were also achieved for Maqbol Fida Husain (India) - £96,000 and £81,600; Nasrollah Afjehel (Iran), Mahmoud Said (Egypt), Jamil Naqsh (Pakistan), Jehangir Sabavala (India), and Sadequain (Pakistan).

Mehreen Rizvi, Head of Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern and South Asian Art at Bonhams, commented, “To achieve this result with only 86 lots shows just how strong this market is.”

Raza leads the pack
June 16-17

S H Raza's Acrylic on Canvas La Provence Noir (1965) sold at Saffronart's Summer Auction at $746,111, falling a little below its higher estimate. This piece is the result of Raza's exposure to the New York school of painters and to Abstract Expressionism on a visit to the United States in the early 1960s. During this time, Raza found himself turning away from mimetic representation to describe the more intangible aspects of a landscape on his canvases. Thus, in the mid 1960s and early 1970s, exploiting the fluidity and freedom of acrylic, Raza deftly manipulated colour and light to focus on the emotion.

Raza was closely followed by Subodh Gupta and Maqbool Fida Husain, at an auction that featured some of the best names in contemporary Indian art including Jogen Chowdhury, Akbar Padamsee and Jitesh Kallat.

June 15
Raza leads in the great Tagore sale

12 small paintings of Rabindranath Tagore were the highlight of the Sotheby's sale of South Asian Art, including property of the Darlington Hall Trust, that also featured Maqbool Fida Husain, Syed Haider Raza and Francis Newton Souza among others. However, despite Raza's 'Rajasthan' topping the lots as a single piece, the media focus was on the National Heritage Status of Rabindranath Tagore's paintings, which when compared to square inch pricing actually became the highest costing paintings. Unfortunately, Tagore's paintings were picked up by NRIs, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. Thus despite being a National Heritage Artist, these paintings by Tagore may never return to India. The sale achieved a total price of 5,465,550 GBP.

June 23
Padamsee takes the lead over Raza

Akbar Padamsee took the lead in Osian's sale of 101 Rare Artworks From The History of Indian Modern and Contemporary Art, that featured Nandalal Bose, Abanindranath Tagore, Thomas Daniells, Jamini Ray, FH Souza and S H Raza. The sale achieved $ 6,046,124, with an 83 per cent sale in lots.

The Osian's auction actually added to the ongoing trend in sale of Indian art fetching high prices in the international market, although the current favourite S. H. Raza lagged behind F N Souza, one of whose works sold at $375,729. However the top lot was Akbar Padamsee's work, that fetched the highest bid at $ 544, 159.

Forthcoming Auctions

July 7
Turner masterpiece on offer after 1878

Sotheby's Evening Sale of Old Master and Early British Paintings in London on Wednesday, 7 July 2010, will present for sale Joseph Mallord William Turner RA's great masterpiece 'Modern Rome Campo Vaccino', with an estimate of £12-18 million. Painted in 1839, this breathtaking painting shows the artist at the height of his technical powers and is undoubtedly among the most important of Turner's works ever to come to auction. The painting is further distinguished by its immaculate condition and impeccable provenance, having only appeared on the open market once in the 171 years since it was painted. The picture was bought by the 5th Earl of Rosebery, and his wife Hannah Rothschild, in 1878 and has remained in his family collection ever since. This uninterrupted provenance ranks this work as perhaps the most important of only five comparable major Turner oil paintings remaining in private hands today. The auction of this painting presents an astonishingly rare opportunity. Arguably Turner's finest depiction of an Italian city, this sun-filled panorama represents the culmination of the artist's fascination with Rome, a fascination which lasted a period of more than 20 years.

Previews: July 8 and 9
Wedgwood, Religious Icons and Important Statuary

Skinner's July European auction always features a great offering and this sale is abundant, with 450 lots of ceramics, much of it coming from collections built over a lifetime. The entire auction is just over 1,000 lots, and estimates range to fit every budget. Fine Ceramics highlights include the Wedgwood collection of Joe Skirchak and Pat Cerra. Pat and Joe have collected Wedgwood for 30 years and have been dealing in it since 1984.

Complimentary ceramics in the auction include a set of four 18th century Wedgwood and Bentley period oval plaques; decorative arts offerings are highlighted by the icon collection of Louis Albert McMillen, a prominent American architect, and founder of The Architect's Collaborative (TAC) along with Walter Gropius and six other architects. The collection is comprised of more than 45 Greek, Russian and Arabic Christian Icons. Also being offered is a nice group of impressive bronze and stone statuary, highlighted by Two French Soldiers on the Filed of Battle, La Defense Du Drapeau by Jean-Louis Gregoire. This patriotic bronze was one of at least five different compositions that Gregoire executed to protest the Prussian territorial land grab and occupation of Alsace-Lorraine in 1870.

Skinner's site also allows users to view all lots in the auctions, leave bids, order catalogs, and bid live in real-time through Skinner-Live.

Old masters and 19th Century Art July 6
Spencer House Sale July 8
Althorp and Spencer House collection on offer

Christie's, will bring a selection of works of art from Althorp the ancestral home of the Spencer Family and currently undergoing a £10 million re-roofing and restoration project. In order to allow for reinvestment which will underpin the long term future of Althorp and its Estate, the Trustees of Althorp Estate have carefully selected a number of pieces of exceptional English and French furniture, porcelain and works of art from the Spencer Collections, two highly collectable and important Old Master pictures, and treasures from the attics at Althorp in addition to the Spencer Carriage Collection, an exceptional group of 19th Century horse-drawn carriages. The total sale is estimated to raise approximately £20 million.

The old masters on July 6 has two highly important pieces include A Commander being armed for Battle, painted around1613-14, by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) (estimate: £8,000,000 -
£12,000,000) and King David, by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, Il Guercino (1591-1666)
(estimate: £5,000,000-£8,000,000) datable to 1651.

The Attic and Carriages sale includes The Spencer Carriages, arguably the most important group of aristocratic 19th Century horse-drawn family carriages in existence and certainly the most extensive to survive in the family for whom they were commissioned.

7 July
Stunning Asian art goes under the hammer

A superb collection of Asian art, lovingly assembled over a decade by a single enthusiast while living and working in the Far East and South East Asia, is for sale at Bonhams Edinburgh on 7 July.

Among the most fascinating pieces is a painting by the internationally celebrated Chinese artist Jiang Guo Fang who became a personal friend of the collector when he was living in Shanghai in the early 1990s. The painting, 'Reclining Court Beauty' is from the artist's well known Forbidden City period and is estimated at £20,000-30,000. In the painting, a beautiful model is posed in costume of the 19th century Chinese court against the backdrop of an imperial palace.

Added to this is a group of early 9th Century Burmese Pagan bronzes, stucco heads and votive items epitomises the simplicity and serenity so characteristic of South East Asian art typical of sculptures from Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. There is also a collection of furniture and rugs from Tibet which are not only colourful and decorative statement pieces but also practical items for home furnishing.

Prices range from the lower hundreds for rugs, paintings and furniture through massive bronze Buddhas at between £1,000 2,000 to £15,000 18,000 for 12th and 13th century Khmer stone carvings. This makes many of these stunning objects eminently affordable for private buyers and interior decorators alike.

The Head of Asian Art at Bonhams Scotland, Ian Glennie, said, “This collection shows a true connoisseur's knowledge and appreciation of SE Asian art. It's one of the best I've ever come across and the collector's passion and enthusiasm shines through every object.”


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