Rembrandt and Canaletto top London auctions of old master paintings – MilanoFinanza News


The last duels of the year in London with high-quality shots, new attributes, rigorous and documented origins. Heroes are ancient images, an extremely difficult and conservative sector. This year, the winning palm narrowly goes to Christie’s, whose Classic Week evening auction on December 7 fetched just under £22m (around €25.5m), up from £13.1m for the corresponding sale in December 2022.

Rival Sotheby’s settled at 19.4 million (around 22.7 million euros) in its auction the day before, down from more than 30 million a year ago, but which saw numerous big-ticket items, led by Venus and Adonis by Titian already in the collection of Evžen Savojský. In both auctions of the last round, a single work accounted for approximately half of the total performance. At Christie’s, it was a pair of Venetian views by Canaletto, never before published but originally commissioned by the great artist Elizabeth, Countess of Essex, in 1733. The two paintings fetched £9.74 million. , confirming a decidedly brilliant estimate, included in a wide range of 8-12 million. Similarly, the upper part of Sotheby’s had as its subject a small oil on oak panel, Adoration of the Three Kings, by Rembrandt. The history of the work is symbolic and confirms that attribution to great masters is often a minefield as well as a profitable business. The painting actually had an origin that could be reconstructed from its origin, but in the auctions of the last decades it was always attributed to the Rembrandt school until its last appearance at Christie’s in Amsterdam in October 2021. It is estimated at 10-15 thousand euros, then it fetched 860 thousand.

A few days ago in London, after an 18-month study financed by Sotheby’s itself, the painting, now fully attributed to the great Flemish master, found a buyer for 10.96 million pounds, a fairly high estimate of 10-15 million. In the same Sotheby’s auction, the other top lots were far apart and many confirmed the original estimates. But there was no shortage of surprises, such as the work of Francesco Renaldi, Italian by birth but English by birth and education, with a portrait from the last years of the eighteenth century of an Indian noblewoman, whose success, which represents a record for the author of a certain exotic charm is not unrelated (£825,500, against starting price 300-500 thousand). A still life by Willem Claesz (£483,000) and a capriccio from the Foro Romana by Giovanni Paolo Panini (317,500), traditional subjects but best representative of the author’s style, were also good.

More conservative estimates buoyed the Christie’s auction, which saw a refined “painting within a picture” by Michael Sweerts shine with a man in the background who was supposed to see the Virgin Mary praying in the foreground. The canvas, which came out in the catalog at 400-600 thousand pounds, rose to 1.73 million. Glory also to Pieter Brueghel the Younger (Back from the party, which changed hands for more than 1.6 million pounds) and for the Calabrian Mattio Preti with a canvas depicting Vincenzo Ferreri and two other saints, formerly in the Scottish castle of Ackergill Tower of Lord Duffus, which changed hands for 580 thousand pounds (from an estimate of 300-500 thousand). (All rights reserved)


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