What’s for Sale? Demystifying Sotheby’s New York Masters Week
Art8 Minutes Read

What’s for Sale? Demystifying Sotheby’s New York Masters Week

January 19, 2023 Share

Staying up-to-date with what is being auctioned at Sotheby’s in one of the most important weeks of the year: Masters Week New York.

It’s Masters Week in Sotheby‘s New York; a sort of auction-house marathon that moves a lot of money, precious art-work and a fair share of art history in a short span of 12 days. Needless to say; it’s quite a big deal.

From the 18-30th of January 2023, Sotheby’s will host a myriad of events during Masters Week to allow some of the world’s most prominent art collectors to get their hands on Baroque beauties, Dutch Masters or one-off objects.

Whilst spending $ 4,000,000 on a Valentin De Boulogne might not be on your agenda for the upcoming week, come take a peak on what’s up for sale anyway.

‘Salome presented with the head of Saint John the Baptist‘ – Paul Rubens

$ 25,000,000-35,000,000

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s
Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

A lengthy name for an expensive and highly anticipated piece, feels fitting. Paul Rubens, in case you aren’t familiar with the name, is a Flemish artist from XVII century, known for emphasis on colour, sensuality and movement. Amongst his most famous work we have; The Three Graces, The Elevation of The Cross or The Judgement of Paris.

His painting Salome presented with the head of Saint John the Baptist, previously exhibited in the National Gallery of London, represents a key moment in the artist’s career. Marking his return to Antwerp after years perfecting his craft in Italy, the subject of the painting “was part of a long-established artistic canon and had been treated by painters from the Renaissance on.”

‘Portrait of a young man with a quill and a sheet of paper, possibly a self-portrait of the artist’ – Agnolo Bronzino

$ 3,000,000-5,000,000

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s
Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

This portrait is a big deal in the art world, as it represents a re-discovered piece by Bronzino, kept in remarkable conditions and featuring a man which is believed to be the artist himself. Known for his portraiture, the painting depicts another of Bronzino’s life passions; poetry.

He is painted mid-writing the following:

The image thinks to write but in fact it does not write

It writes of its own accord but it does not act of its own accord

Therefore, it does so unwillingly and writes as little as possible

It intends to write, so that it is not necessary to write further

‘Interior of the Oude Kerk, Delft’ – Hendrick Cornelisz. van Vliet

$ 100,000-150,000

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

This painting may be small to Masters Week standards (33.7 by 25.4 cm), but it is part of the Golden Age of Dutch artistry, which happened mostly around 1620 to 1680. Amongst the artists of this time is van Vliet, best known for his paintings of church interiors, much like this one.

This particular painting depicts the interior of Delft’s old church, featuring two young boys on the painting’s foreground and a prominent column; a technique van Vliet used to draw attention to the architecture of his works.

‘Still Life with Flowers in a Stone Vase on a Pedestal Carved with Putti; with a Basket of Flowers and a Dunnock’s Nest’ – Gerard van Spaendonck

$ 1,500,000-2,000,000

Most known for his floral stills, van Spaendonck was also the French King’s botanical illustrator, which explains the beauty and meticulous detail of his works. His depth particularly shows in the depiction of the marble surface, a hard edge which contrasts the the soft flower petals.

Equally as impressive is the artist’s signature, positioned in the lower right and painted so as to seem etched into the marble itself.

‘Jardinière de pommes’ – Jean-Étienne Liotard

$ 1,200,000 – 1,800,000

Jean-Étienne Liotard was a Swiss painter of the XVIII century, who belonged to the Rococo movement. This was an aristocratic art style with emphasis on pastel colours and natural forms.

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

You may have noticed it already, but this apple basket is not quite centred. And if you were to see it in person, you’d notice it is also just slightly larger than real size. These particular details make it of great interest to art collectors, who praise Liotard for his subtle accuracy and enigmatic singularity.

‘Saint Ivo with a supplicating donor’ – Matteo di Pacino

$ 80,000 – 120,000

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

It’s not just paintings and drawings at Masters week, but sculptures and objects too. This one in particular used to be property of a private collector, but was previously sold at Sotheby’s back in 2007.

It’s artist, Matteo di Pacino, was known for his fresco paintings in the chapel of the Florentine church of Santa Croce. This particular piece of his dates back to the fourteenth century.

‘The Guennol Enameled-Gold-Mounted Cup’ – Unknown

$ 20,000 – 30,000

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s
Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

This cup might be beautiful as it is, but its true value lies in its handles, which are decorated in what is known as a cosse de pois or pea-pod style. Vogue in the 17th century, it often incorporated groups of flowers and leaves and are key components in dating this auction piece.

Philoctetes Abandoned on the Island of Lemnos‘ – Attributed to Francois-Nicolas Delaistre

$ 25,000 – 45,000

Image courtesy of Sotheby’s
Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

This 34cm terracotta sculpture is believed to date back to 1785, and is identified as François-Nicolas Delastre’s, who trained under sculptors Félix Lecomte (1737-1817) and Louis Claude Vassé (1717-1772). It is believed that this piece was an “étude d’expression”, that is, a study model looking to practice human expression.

Sotheby’s New York Masters Week runs from the 18-30th of January 2023. You can view all the items on auction for this masters week here.

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Author: Laura Scalco
fine art
New York