Christie’s Sets Record for British Work on Paper – artmarketblog.com

love among the ruins burne jones Christies Sets Record for British Work on Paper   artmarketblog.comAs the global art market continued its preoccupation with contemporary art market, an extraordinary event took place in London that has received very little attention.  On July 11 in London during the Important Victorian and Impressionst Art sale, Christie’s sold a spectacular Edward Burne-Jones watercolour titled Love among the Ruins for a record £14,845,875 against an estimate of £3,000,000 – 5,000,000 – a world record price for a Pre-Raphaelite work at auction, a world record for the artist at auction, and a world record price for a British work on paper at auction.

Measuring  38 x 60 in. (96.5 x 152.4 cm.), the size of Love among the Ruins is testament to the Burne-Jones’s affinity with a medium that it notoriously difficult to master. It was widely reported that the painting was a long-lost work, but the Art Market Blog understands that Christie’s were aware of its whereabouts and had been working on convincing the owners to sell the painting for some time.

A new record for a sculpture by Lord Frederick Leighton was also set during the sale with the artist’s An Athlete Wrestling with a Python which sold or £493,875 against an estimate of £250,000 – 350,000. The spectacular sculpture was originally specified as an edition of 10, yet only three such bronzes are known. The auction record for a work by Sir John Everett Millais was also broken during the sale with the artist’s painting Sisters selling for £2,301,875 against an estimate of £2,000,000 – 3,000,000.

The records reflect the increased interest and desirability of works by Pre-Raphaelite artists and the work of Victorian-era art in general that I alluded to in an article that I wrote at the end of 2012 titled The Beautiful Art Revival: A Passion for the Pre-RaphaelitesNot only were 10 world record prices achieved during the Christie’s July 11 sale, the record for the highest auction total for the category was also broken with the new record now £22,201,975. The sale also achieved figures of 58% sold by lot and 93% by value – evidence that buyers are very selective when it comes to works of Victorian British art but will pay top dollar for the rarest and most desirable works.

Commenting on the sale, Peter Brown, Department Head & Director of Victorian Pictures, said: “The market for Victorian art has expanded and seen increased international bidding from the US, Russia and Asia. Following the success of the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at Tate London, which has opened in Washington before it moves to Moscow in June 2013, there could not be a more propitious time to bring this picture to the market.”

**Nicholas Forrest is a Sydney/London based art market analyst, art consultant and writer.  He is the founder of the Art Market Blog (artmarketblog.com) which offers independent commentaries as well as research and analysis on the current art market, and has recently been published in Fabrik magazine, Verve magazine, Visual Art Beat magazine, Australian Art Collector magazine, Art & Investment magazine and many others.  Nic has made several radio appearances (both nationally and internationally) as an art market expert and has received press from the likes of the New York Times, Conde Nast Portfolio and Times of London.

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