Old Master Market Falters at Dorotheum Auction, Reflecting Global Trend

Old Masters and 19th century paintings were down 33 percent from 2013.

Antonio Joli (1700 - 1777) Rome, A view of the Campo Vaccino Copyright Dorotheum
Antonio Joli (1700 - 1777) Rome, A view of the Campo Vaccino Copyright Dorotheum
Studio of Peter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640) The Holy Familiy with Saint Anne and the Infant John de Baptist Copyright Dorotheum

Studio of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) The Holy Family with Saint Anne and the Infant John de Baptist
Copyright Dorotheum

With the postwar and contemporary art crowd in Cologne last week, Vienna’s Dorotheum was busy with its spring Old Masters and 19th century paintings sales. The two sales brought in €5,179,976 ($7,155,815) and €2,167,945 ($2994881), selling 43.4 percent and 55.5 percent by lot, respectively, for a total on the week of €7,347,921 ($10,150,697).

The sales suggest a constriction of the markets in both categories. Results at last year’s April Old Masters paintings sale totaled €7,772,177 ($10,143,281). The April 19th century paintings sale made €3,209,249 ($4,192,858). That marks an approximately 33 percent drop in both categories with only around 5 percent more works selling last year in Old Masters and 2.5 percent more works selling in 19th century paintings.

The trend matches that of the global market for Old Masters and Impressionist artworks as the art market becomes increasingly focused on the postwar and contemporary art sector.

Peter Paul Rubens’ The Holy Family with St Anne and the Infant St John (1615/1620) topped out the week’s offerings, selling to a bidder in the room for €503,030 ($694,500; including VAT and buyer’s premium), inside of its estimate of €400,000–600,000.

The work comes with an exceptional provenance and was commissioned in 1615 by the Governor Archduke Albrecht for Coudenberg Palace in Brussels. Among many other aristocratic homes, the painting was held in the Duke of Marlborough’s collection in the 1880s. It was sold to the Banca Español de Credito, Madrid, in 1989 from a Canadian collection.

Antonio Joli (1700 - 1777) Rome, A view of the Campo Vaccino Copyright Dorotheum

Antonio Joli (1700–1777) Rome, A view of the Campo Vaccino
Copyright Dorotheum

A view over the Roman forum in use as a cow pasture, Campo Vaccino (c. 1744) by Antonio Joli (est. €200,000–300,000) piqued the interest of a Brit. The hammer fell at €244,300 ($337,500) for the evening’s second-highest result.

The still life Bouquet of Flowers (c. 1660) by Jan van Kessel I was the evening’s top performer, however. The work, which depicts a Tulipomania-inducing Semper Augustus bloom, made nearly double its low estimate of €120,000. It sold to a Swiss bidder for €232,100 ($320,500).

With regard to hammer price, 19th century paintings was a slightly more subdued affair. But margins were generally better than those of the Old Masters. Emil Jakob Schindler’s Garden at Plankenberg (1886; est. €120,000–180,000), a so-called Atmospheric Impressionist painting of a summer garden, topped the results at €183,300 ($253,500).

Other highlights included: Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller’s Großmutter mit drei Enkelkindern (1854; est. €150,000–200,000) at €122,300 ($169,000), a Fausto Zonaro self portrait (c. 1908; est. €40,00060,000) at €110,100 ($152,000); and Konstantin Jakovlevich Kryschitskij’s The Lake (1892; est. €70,000–90,000) at €85,700 ($118,500).


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