LONDON.- A masterpiece by Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphael (1483-1520) sold at yesterday evening’s auction of Important Old Master and British Pictures at Christie’s in London for £18,500,000 ($37,277,500 / €27,343,000), a world record price for the artist at auction and a world record price for an Italian Old Master Picture (by US$). One of only a handful of paintings by the artist to remain in private hands, the work portrays Lorenzo de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino and ruler of Florence from 1513 to 1519. The most important Renaissance portrait to be offered at auction for a generation, and the most important work by the artist to be offered at auction in recent decades, it was bought after a ten minute bidding battle by a private collector biding on the telephone.
This evening’s auction of Important Old Master and British Pictures at Christie’s London realised a total of £41,540,000 ($83,703,100 / €61,396,120). Auction records were broken for a number of artists including Raphael, Domenichino, Lucas Cranach the Younger and Ferdinand Bol.
Richard Knight, International Director of Christie’s Old Master Department and Paul Raison, Director and Head of Old Master Pictures at Christie's, London said: “The results achieved at this evening's sale build on Christie’s leadership of the market for Old Master and British Pictures. The highlight of the auction was Raphael's Portrait of Lorenzo de' Medici, one of the most significant Old Masters to have been sold at auction in recent decades. This outstanding work by one of the most renowned and accomplished of European artists sold for £18.5million, a record price for the artist at auction. This evening’s sale attracted clients from around the world, including a significant number who were new to the category, and particularly competitive bidding was seen for the best works on offer. We are pleased with the results realised for Part Two of the Goudstikker Collection which realised a total of £3.12 million, and for the price achieved by Domenichino’s Pietà which sold for £3.04 million, a record price for the artist at auction. We are also pleased that Venus and Cupid by Sir Peter Lely sold immediately after the sale to a private collector within the estimate of £1,500,000-2,000,000.”
Other highlights of the sale included:
- A masterpiece by the Baroque master Domenico Zampieri, Il Domenichino (1581-1641). The Pietà, which was exhibited at the recent exhibition Domenichino 1581-1641 at the Palazzo Venezia, Rome from October 1996 to January 1997, sold for £3,044,000 ($6,133,660 / €4,499,032) setting a new world record price for the artist at auction.
- Portrait of a Lady by Lucas Cranach II (1515-1586), a striking portrait which far exceeded its pre-sale estimate of £500,000-700,000, eventually selling to an anonymous bidder in the room for £1,812,000 ($3,651,180 / €2,678,136), setting a world record price for the artist at auction.
- The Revel of Baachus and Silenus by Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678), which had been hidden from public view since 1953, realised £1,700,000 ($3,425,500 / €2,512,600).
- The Woodland Maid by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) realised £1,196,000 ($2,409,940 / €1,767,688).
- Part Two of the Goudstikker Collection, arguably the most important collection of Old Master Pictures ever restituted. Following on from Part One which took place on 19 April 2007 in New York and totalled $9,741,200, the collection is an overview of Dutch Old Master Pictures from the 15th to 19th centuries, together with excellent examples from 16th century Germany, early Italian and 18th century French works. Part Two of the sale held at Christie’s this evening realised a total of £3,120,400 ($6,287,606 / €4,611,951). Highlights included The Plaats, the Hague, with an elegant hawking party by Gerrit Berckheyde (1638-1698) which realised £512,800 ($1,033,292 / €757,918) and A stormy seascape by Jan Josefz. van Goyen (1596-1656) which sold for £356,000 ($717,340 / €526,168). Part Three of the Goudstikker Collection will be offered at Christie’s Amsterdam on 14 November 2007.
RAPHAEL’S PORTRAIT OF LORENZO DE’ MEDICI: The portrait shows a swagger Lorenzo de’ Medici standing proud and resplendent against a rich green background. In the Duke’s right hand he holds what is probably a portrait miniature showing his future wife, and his striking tunic and shawl of gold and red are of the most impressive order with the fur on the neck and lining of his cape painted in a delicate manner which highlights Raphael’s exceptional ability and technique. The vivacity and boldness of the colours, together with the handling of the abundance of fabrics worn by the Duke, are typical of the style of the Renaissance master and substantiate his being known as ‘the Prince of Painters’.
The portrait is recorded in the possession of Cosmo de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in an inventory of 1553. During the 1800s, it was in the possession of two of the most prominent collectors of the 19th century; Lord Northwick (1769-1859) whose collection was offered at auction in 1859, and then the merchant Hollingworth Magniac (1786-1867) whose collection was sold over an eleven day sale at Christie’s in 1892 where the present picture, lot 84, sold for 567 guineas. The painting was the subject of attributional debate with regards both the artist and the sitter from 1862, although Sir Charles Robinson (1824-1913), the esteemed scholar of Italian Renaissance art, supported the attribution as it is accepted today. It was sold again at Christie’s in November 1962 and in 1968 it was sold at an auction in New York to Ira Spanierman, who offered the portrait at this evening’s auction. In 1971, Professor Konrad Oberhuber conclusively reinstated the attribution of the painting in an article for The Burlington Magazine, a view now accepted by all major scholars of the artist.