UK: Maria Szantho (b. 1898-?) was a Hungarian artist who specialised in glamour girl nudes which crop up with some regularity in the salerooms, generally at prices between £500-3000.
Szantho has been a commercial mainstay of Christie’s South Kensington (15/10 per cent buyer’s premium) for some time now, but CSK were entering new financial territory on March 25 when this rather more unusual oil of a sleeping child and her dreams topped their British and Continental Pictures sale with a price of £14,000, which appears to be a record for the artist.
Despite being a relatively prolific painter, virtually nothing is known of Szantho’s life, making it difficult to date her work with any confidence. CSK’s expert-in-charge Joshua Darby thought this 2ft 3in by 3ft 23/4in (69 x 98cm) oil-on-board dated from the 1930s, which would mean its dwarf imagery could either be a prefiguration of or a response to Walt Disney’s 1938 classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
At any rate, the combination of a pretty young girl asleep and her picturesque dreams proved attractive to an American collector bidding on the telephone. The painting had been entered by a Continental vendor and, being on board, was in good condition.
Interestingly a Szantho nude was also included in this CSK sale, attracting a fairly standard £2400.