Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Irene Stoll, director of Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg’s Swiss Art department certainly seems to think so following what she regarded as a highly successful inaugural sale of Schweizer Kunst in Zurich on March 18.

Bearing an overall presale estimate of SFr5.9m-7.9m, the sale netted SFr6.3m (£2.49m) from 113 lots of which 26 – representing 23 per cent by volume and 18.5 per cent by value – were left unsold.

The Swiss economy is, as everyone knows, a law unto itself and so is the Swiss art market. Though Irene Stoll stated in her post-sale press release that “the fierce competition for many of the pictures tonight proved that there is international interest in this genre”, in terms of actual sales, around 85 per cent of the
pictures were bought by Swiss private collectors.

Star of the night proved to be the Felix Vallotton (1865-1925) landscape above right. Entitled La Seine aux Andelys, it attracted interest from five serious bidders before being knocked down to a Swiss collector at SFr780,000 (£308,300) against an estimate of SFr400,000-600,000.

As with all the most successful lots in the sale, this 211/2in by 3ft (55 x 91cm) canvas, signed and dated 1924, was in unrestored, market-fresh condition, the Swiss vendor’s family having owned the
painting since 1925.

Felix Vallotton also made an impact a week later on March 25 at Christie’s (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) biannual sale of Schweizer Kunst in Zurich when the atmospheric 1910 canvas, Honfleur et la Baie de Seine, offered directly from descendants of the artist himself, sold to an international collector at SFr600,000 (£237,155), albeit well below the SFr800,000-1.2m pre-sale estimate.

As befits a country famous for its watch production, these twice-yearly Swiss Art sales, now in their 12th year, tend to be pretty metronomic events and the total of SFr9.2m (£3.6m) achieved from 130 lots at this sale was pretty much in line with both expectations and the totals of other recent Christie’s art sales in Zurich. Selling rates of 75 per cent by lot and 83 per cent by value also evinced routine efficiency.

However, there was a certain amount of excitement when the Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918) landscape, above right, was offered.

Showing a famously imposing section of the Savoy mountain range overlooking Lake Geneva, Grammont achieved a new auction record for the artist when it sold to a Swiss
private collector on the telephone at SFr3.6m (£1.4m) against an estimate of SFr2.5-3.5m.

Signed and dated 1905, placing it among the artist’s more desirable post-1890 symbolist-influenced works, this 2ft 11/2in by 3ft 51/2in (65cm x 1.05m) canvas was one of a number of views Hodler painted of Grammont.

However, it was particularly desirable for being unusually large and vividly coloured and having been in the same Swiss private collection for at least 40 years.

Exchange rate: £1 = SFr2.53