Botticelli and Magritte… two masterpieces to start the art auction year in style
[17 Jan 2022]
As the first quarter of the year begins, several major works of incomparable quality have already been put up for public sale, and their presence is in itself an indicator of the tremendous surge of confidence currently flowing through the veins of the art market. art auctions. This week, Artprice looks back on the two masterpieces put on the market by Sotheby’s between January and March 2022.
An exceptional Botticelli
A clear highlight of the opening salvo of the year is an absolute gem from Sandro BOTTICELLI called The Man of Sorrows. Sotheby’s will offer the work on January 27 in New York with an estimate of more than 40 million dollars which could well be exceeded. The portrait of a suffering Christ painted at the end of Botticelli’s career cannot fail to recall another painting by the Florentine master, Portrait of a young man holding a cockade, sold in January 2021 by the same auction house for the record sum of 92 million dollars.
This portrait generated the 2nd best auction result for an old master, the absolute record being that broken for the famous by LEONARDO DA VINCI Salvator Mundi which grossed $450.3 million at Christie’s in 2017.
For George Watcher, co-director of Old Master Paintings at Sotheby’s, “”To auction a work of this quality by Botticelli is a major event in the world of Old Masters, but to do so a year after the historic sale of Botticelli Portrait of a young man holding a cockade is indeed a once-in-a-generation phenomenon.
The Man of Sorrowsalso contains a secret: a drawing representing a Virgin and Child was recently discovered under the portrait of Christ during an infrared scan! This little “extra” should have a stimulating effect on the auctions.
According to the latest Artprice data for the year 2021, the global market for Old Master works generated $951 million from 17,400 lots sold. Although Sotheby’s has established itself as the leader in this segment with a 23% market share (ahead of Christie’s at 20% and Poly at 18%), this has not prevented it from establishing itself as one of the great pioneers. ultra-contemporary and NFT markets. Alongside the emergence of ultra-contemporary art and the digital art revolution, old masterpieces remain and will undeniably remain universal assets with high added value.
A major Magritte
One of the 17 paintings by René MAGRITTE Empire of Lights will be auctioned by Sotheby’s in London on March 2. In fact, according to Helena Newman, the president of Sotheby’s Europe, it is the most “charismatic” painting of this famous series of 17 paintings, and it is establishing itself as an essential classic in the history of modern art. .
“A masterpiece of 20th century art, The Empire of Lights brings together the two most basic elements of everyday life – day and night. With its impressive dimensions, this cinematographic picture draws the viewer into the timeless universe of Magritte. (Helene Newman).
The “impressive” dimensions are 114.5 x 146 cm. The work was completed in 1961 for Anne-Marie Gillion Croue, daughter of Pierre Croue, the painter’s best friend, patron and collector of surrealist art in Belgium.
A chronological analysis of the number of lots sold at auction reveals a peak in demand for René Magritte (nearly 230 lots sold in 2021). (Copyright Artprice.com)
On public display at Sotheby’s galleries in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, New York and London before it goes on sale, The Empire of Lights should renew Magritte’s auction record.
This iconic painting is clearly hitting the market at the right time: Magritte’s price index has already posted a +353% increase since 2000 and demand is stronger than ever for the works of the surrealist artist whose volume of transactions sold has just reached an all-time high. In this very favorable context, Sotheby’s considers The Empire of Lights could flirt with the 60 million dollars, more than double the current record of the artist for his The Pleasure Principle($27 million, Sotheby’s, November 2018).