The series of 15 sales offering an extraordinary array of works and objects was led by two exceptional predella panels by artist Giovanni di Paolo
After seven days of live auctions, Classic Week (3-13 December) in London concluded with a total of £54 million (including buyer's premium). The series of 15 live sales saw global participation and artist records established for Giovanni di Paolo, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo and Bartolomeo Caporali, among others. An additional online sale, Quentin Blake: Not in Books, runs until 17 December.
During the viewing, thousands of visitors came to Christie’s King Street to see the extraordinary array of artworks and objects on display, which spanned antiquity to the 20th century.
Central to the showcase was Art Adorned, a private selling exhibition in collaboration with Dolce&Gabbana that explored the enduring influence of the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo movements on Dolce&Gabbana’s Alta Moda, Alta Gioielleria and Alta Sartoria collections.
The top price of Classic Week was achieved by a pair of exceptional predella panels, above, by mid-quattrocento artist Giovanni di Paolo (c. 1399-1482), which made a combined total of £8.9 million, setting a new auction record for the artist.
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The series opened on 3 December with the Old Masters Evening Sale, which achieved £24,218,000, selling 86 per cent by lot and 94 per cent by value. The sale, which offered Old Master paintings and Old Master sculpture together for the first time, drew bidders from 22 countries across four continents, and established five new artist records.
In addition to the two panels by Giovanni di Paolo, other notable results included a floral still life by Jan Breughel, the Elder, which sold for £755,250 — more than three times its high estimate; and six drawings from Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo’s celebrated Punchinello series (totalling 105 sheets). Punchinellos Feasting produced the highest price of the six drawings when it sold for £995,250, setting a new world auction record for a drawing by the artist.
The sculpture in the auction was 100 per cent sold, with standout lots including an important Renaissance crucifix made by Gasparo Mola, the goldsmith to the Medici family, which more than doubled its high estimate at £671,250; and a rare medieval Limoges cross, which achieved £162,500.
‘The Evening Sale was one of the most successful auctions in recent years,’ said Clementine Sinclair, Head of Old Master Paintings Evening Sale at Christie’s. ‘There was cross-category interest and buying, underlining the success of combining paintings, drawings and sculpture.’
On 4 December, Old Master Paintings and Sculpture achieved £3,584,250, while Antiquities realised £3,349,625. Highlights of the latter included Roman marble sculptures of Eros and Venus probably carved during the first century AD. The sculpture of Eros achieved £1,571,250 — nearly double its high estimate, while the sculpture of Venus Pontia-Euploia soared past its high estimate to achieve £671,250. Later that day, a dedicated sale of ancient sculpture from the Pestalozzi Collection realised £2,105,875.
Old Master Prints on 10 December totalled £2,041,612, led by Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I (1514). This engraving on laid paper sold for £187,500.
The following day, Shakespeare and Goethe: Masterpieces of European Literature from the Schøyen Collection achieved £948,375, while Valuable Books & Manuscripts realised £2,503,375.
Leading the British Art: Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art sale, which realised £4,124,750, was The Judgement of Paris (1935) by Sir William Russell Flint. This monumental painting, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1935, fetched £407,250 — more than double the low estimate.
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Elsewhere, there were notable results for a Swiss jewelled enamelled gold snuff box, from around 1805, which fetched £87,500 — more than double the low estimate; and an important Medieval astrolabe quadrant, probably originating from Southern France. One of only eight recorded medieval astrolabe quadrants, and the only in private hands in a contemporary leather case, it sold for £731,250.
The top lot of The David Little Collection of Early English Silver, which achieved £1,612,875, was an Elizabeth I silver-gilt cup and cover from 1589. Formerly in the collection of J.P. Morgan, the finely decorated vessel sold for £225,000.
In the Field, a dedicated sale of British Sporting Art from an important private collection, achieved £2,617,375, led by John Frederick Herring Snr’s painting of two sitters with pointers on a grouse moor, which sold for £611,250.
The season closed on 13 December with Property from Descendants of Their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary, which realised £1,740,000. Portrait of a Gentleman by John Wootton produced the highest price of the auction when it sold for £75,000 — more than double its high estimate.