Establishing a new landmark for a picture lot sold at auction outside London, two portraits by Jean Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805) took £900,000 at Dreweatt Neate’s Donnington Priory salerooms last week.
The lot becomes the second highest price ever paid for a work
of art in a UK saleroom outside of London behind the Yuan dynasty
double gourd form vase sold by Woolley & Wallis in July last
year for £2.6m.
The two bust-length portraits, each measuring 16 x 13in (41cm x
33cm) and housed in an elaborate carved giltwood frame, are thought
to depict the artist's daughters - one is identified as Anna
Genevieve (1762-1842) - and are signed and dated 1766.
Research suggested the pictures were painted by Greuze for a
Danish nobleman and resided in the rococo Moltke Palace, Copenhagen
before coming to Great Britain via London dealer Arthur Tooth and
Sons sometime in the early 20th century. In Jean-Georges Wille's
Memoirs et Journal Paris 1837 he writes that "two superb
representations of young girls" were purchased from Greuze at a
cost of 40 gold louis by M.Le Conte de Moltke and M.
That provenance, the paintings' untouched condition and the
obvious appeal of the subject matter were the three keys to
Of less importance to the trade - but a hook for the national
press - was a more recent provenance to The Old Rectory, Peasemore,
home to the parents of the new Conservative Party leader David
Cameron. Downsizing now that the children have flown the nest, Ian
and Mary Cameron have been discreetly selling some of the family
heirlooms at their local auctioneers in Berkshire. They sold 11
pieces of antique furniture for more than £60,000 in January,
including a £30,000 Georgian mahogany tripod table.
Similar works survive in major collections (the Louvre has the
largest corpus of Greuze's work) but auctioneers Dreweatt Neate of
Donnington Priory near Newbury published a perplexing estimate of
just £18,000-20,000. In fact they attracted international interest
before the sale on February 1 and bidding from 22 registered
telephones saw proceedings start at £80,000 and jump to £300,000 in
a single bid. The winning bid of £900,000 - £1,050,000 once charges
are added - was tendered by a "strictly anonymous" buyer thought to
be London dealer Richard Green.
The price is a new record for a picture sold outside London. It
relegates to second place the £540,000 (plus 15 per cent buyer's
premium) bid by Agnew's for a portrait of the Richardson family by
Francis Hayman at John Nicholson's Fernhurst salerooms in November
Dreweatt Neate's previous house record was the £350,000 paid by
Partridge Fine Arts for a George III giltwood and specimen marble
topped side table from the estate of Daisy Fellowes in January
The ATG's provincial Top Five
Woolley & Wallis, Salisbury, July 2005, Yuan dynasty blue and
white double gourd vase, £2.6m + 15% premium
Dreweatt Neate, Donnington Priory, February 2006, two portraits of
the artist's daughter by Jean Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805), £900,000
+ 17.5/12.5% premium
John Nicholson, Fernhurst, November 2004, Portrait of the Samuel
Richardson family by Francis Hayman (1708-1776), £540,000 + 15%
Finan & Co., Mere, June 2004, Complete set of four copies of
the Negarestan murals c.1815, £500,000 + 15% premium
Lacy Scott & Knight, Bury St Edmunds, March 1999, a pair of
18th century Sèvres swan-neck vases - £500,000 + 12% premium
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