PHILADELPHIA – Freeman’s conducted its highly successful European Art & Old Masters auction – the first sale at its new Center City Philadelphia flagship gallery – on Feb. 18. With a sell-through rate of 98%, the sale achieved over $2.3 million, more than $1 million above its presale estimate. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
Strong prices were achieved for 19th-century works, especially for artists from the Impressionist movement. With many consignments from private New York collectors, the sale featured 47 lots, including notable works by Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Vincent van Gogh and Albrecht Dürer.
The sale was led by Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917), Grande Arabesque, Deuxième Temps (above), which sold for $567,000—more than four times its low estimate. This price realized is a record price for a Degas cast after 1948. After several minutes of competition between phone and Internet bidders from the United Kingdom and France, the bronze ultimately sold to a buyer who had the chance to view the sculpture when it was exhibited during Freeman’s preview in London.
Berthe Morisot (French, 1841–1895), Apollon Révélant sa Divinité à la Bergère Issé (after François Boucher) was another highlight of the sale. Bought directly from the artist’s grandchildren in the 1970s, the work shows the artist’s fascination for 18th- century painting. It sold for $212,000 to the Museé Marmottan-Monet, the leading institution for French Impressionism, holding the most works by Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot. The painting will be the focal point of their 2021 exhibition dedicated to the influence of 18th-century art on Berthe Morisot’s work.
The most anticipated lot of the sale was a striking charcoal drawing by Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890), Bald-Headed Orphan Man, Facing Right (Lot 32). Twelve international telephone bidders competed for the work, which achieved a strong result of $459,000. The drawing depicts Adrianus Jacobus Zuyderland, a 72-year-old pensioner of an almshouse who was van Gogh’s most frequently used model. The drawing was purchased in Amsterdam in 1968 and remained in the same private collection until the present sale.
The sale opened with Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528), The Rhinoceros, ceremoniously called by Chairman Alasdair Nichol. This rare print sold to a phone bidder for $81,250—10 times its estimate.
Other highlights in the sale included works by artists Armand Guillaumin (below; $112,500), Rubens Santoro (Lot 35; $100,000), Willem Koekkoek (Lot 26; $75,000); Nikolai Roerich (Lot 39; $75,000), and Édouard Léon Cortès (Lot 40; $50,000—sold to Rehs Gallery, New York City.
“I am delighted that after months of planning, we see the new premises come to life with this first, highly successful auction,” commented Chairman Alasdair Nichol, “Today’s success, including a record price achieved for a Degas bronze, can be attributed to the expertise of our superb team of specialists who work tirelessly on behalf of our consignors to reach an international audience of collectors.”