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Sotheby's Masters Week sales close in on $100 million, propelled by $45.4 million Botticelli
Balthasar van der Ast, A tulip, a carnation and roses, with shells and insects, on a ledge. Courtesy Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christopher Apostle, Head of Sotheby’s Old Masters Painting Department, New York, said: “As the first major sale of 2022, today’s auction result is a resounding vote of confidence for the international art market and the market for Old Masters. The sale was sourced globally, and sold globally to a broad international spread of buyers, with collectors hailing from across the United States, Europe, Russia, and Asia. Altogether, there was very strong bidding across the sale and at every price point, led of course by Botticelli’s Man of Sorrows, but with excellent results throughout.”

George Wachter, Sotheby’s Co-Chairman of Old Master Paintings Worldwide, added: “The exceptional results for today’s sale showcased the depth of the Old Master market: from Italian Renaissance masterworks, to an extraordinary group of works by leading female artists, including a record-setting price for Anne Vallayer-Coster, to a variety of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and beyond. We also had the great privilege of offering the restituted masterwork by the French regency painter Nicolas de Largillière, which was recently returned to the heirs of the renowned collector Jules Strauss, and continues the critically important efforts in reclaiming the histories of the art and lives irreparably damaged during the Nazi regime."

Key Insights:

• $90,970,160 total tops sale estimate of $73.1-88.6m

• Together with total achieved for Old Master drawings yesterday, this brings running total for Masters Week sales thus far to $96,365,668

• Strong prices: nearly half of the works sold today achieved prices above top estimate

• International participation: participants from 32 countries, with the highest recorded number of new registrants for a New York marquee sale of Old Masters, and with
• Russian-speaking buyers active on works by Cranach (Lot 16), Murillo (Lot 47) and Goya (Lot 48)
• Asian bidding was also strong in the sale

• A fully ambidextrous sale: with strong activity in the room (lots 11, 26, 28, 33, 38, 43, 48, 50 sold to in-person buyers) and online (lots 3, 5, 9, 24, 39)

• $91 million total is 49% up on equivalent 2020 sale ($61.1m) and 73% up on 2019 ($52.7m)

• Four new artist records were established today, for: Pieter van Mol (Lot 6), Nicolaes Eliasz. Pickenoy (Lot 29), Anne Vallayer-Coster (Lot 49), Sophie Frémiet Rude (Lot 50)

• Institutional interest throughout the sale, with lot 41, a 17th century gilt bronze sculpture of Princess Anna Colonna Barbarini by Gabriele Renzi and Francesco Contini selling to Minneapolis Institute of Art for $163,800, and Adriaen Coorte’s beautiful still of wild strawberries (lot 37) selling for $2.4m (est $1.5-2m) to an Important European Public Collection


• Trailblazing female artists
• In lockstep with the market’s increasing appreciation of the work of the leading female artists of their time, and in the wake of strong interest generated by Sotheby’s 2019 landmark exhibition and auction The Female Triumphant, today’s sale saw strong competition for works by:
• Artemisia Gentileschi, whose Portrait of a seated lady sold for $2.7 million (lot 31), followed by Susanna and the Elders which made $2.1 million (lot 40); Rachel Ruysch, whose meticulously rendered still life of carnations, hibiscus, and morning glories tripled its high estimate to achieve $365,400 (lot 36); Anne Vallayer-Coster’s Still life of flowers in a vase on a table (lot 49) realised $1.8 million, setting a new record for the artist at auction; Sophie Frémiet Rude’s grand mythological composition, The death of Cenchirias, son of Neptune and the nymph Peirene (lot 50) sold to a buyer in the auction room for $685,500, setting a new record for the artist at auction

• Broadening Horizons as Egyptian Limestone Sculpture Sells for Nearly $10 Million:
• For the first time in such an auction, today’s sales included a work dating back to circa 2440-2355 B.C. The sculpture, an Egyptian Limestone Figure of a Man previously on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (lot 17), met with a rapturous response, realizing $9.9 million - nearly doubling the high estimate (est. $3-5m). The work was acquired by an American private foundation.

• Standout result for masterpiece by little-known Flemish artist Pieter van Mol
• Whose Caravaggesque painting of Diogenes looking for an Honest Man, from the collection of J.E. Safra, sold for $5.8m, soaring above its estimate of $2-3m (lot 5)

• Recently Restituted Masterwork by Nicolas de Largillière Achieves $1.23 Million
• Madame de Parabère or Portrait of a Lady as Pomona - among the artist’s most significant works to appear at auction was offered following the restitution in early 2021 by the Dresden State Art Collections to the heirs of the renowned Jewish collector Jules Strauss.

• Newly-rediscovered work by Italian Renaissance Master generates excitement:
• A rare portrait by Andrea del Sarto, depicting an elegantly dressed man presumed to be a member of the illustrious Medici family (lot 20), realised $2.2 million (est. $2-3 million), setting a new auction record for a painting by the artist.

• Spanish Masters
• El Greco’s luminous canvas depicting Saint Francis of Assisi (lot 46) - one of four autograph examples of this rare composition by the 16th century Spanish artist soared above its estimate to make $1.2 million (est. $600,000 - 800,000)
• Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s beautifully rendered Virgin and Child (lot 47) - among the artist’s finest explorations of a subject realised $867,000 (est. $600,000 - 800,000)
• A masterful portrait by Francisco José de Goya and Studio of José Antonio Caballero (lot 48) - the Secretary of State for Grace and Justice in 1807 in the court of King Charles IV of Spain made more than 3.5 times its high estimate to achieve $2.2 million (est. $400,000 - 600,000)

• Continued momentum:
• Excitement for Old Masters began yesterday morning, with the sale of Master Works on Paper from Five Centuries , which brought in a total of $4.9 million – comfortably exceeding its pre-sale high estimate (est. $3 - 4.3 million).
• The sale was led by a rediscovered drawing of a Head of a Young Woman Looking Down, by Fra Bartolommeo, which soared over three-times its estimate to achieve $1.8 million (est. $400/600,000). Executed in the late 1490s, this superbly sophisticated and very well preserved early drawing by the great Florentine master was last seen on the market in 1927, when it was acquired by the grandfather of the present owners at a sale in Amsterdam, for the relatively significant sum of 892.50 guilders.
• Also included in the sale was a brilliantly drawn grand self-portrait by Guercino, which sold for $504,000, establishing a new record for a drawing by the artist (est. $400/600,000). Additionally, the sale achieved new artist records for Erhard Schön (Lot 1), Hendrik Pothoven (Lot 53) and a drawing record for Lelio Orsi (lot 17).

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