An old man at a casement made the highest price of Christie’s Old Master sale in New York – part of the auctioneers’ ‘Classic Week’ of sales.
The 2ft 3in x 2ft (70 x 61cm) oil on panel was described in the catalogue as “among the most significant and powerful paintings” known by Govaert Flinck – an artist often described as a follower of Rembrandt but whose accomplished and arresting portraits have now become more appreciated in their own right.
In fact, this painting had been bought as a Rembrandt by Catherine the Great for the Hermitage in Russia in the 1760s.
Signed and dated G. flinck f. 1646, it had previously sold at Christie's London in December 2011 for £2.34m (including buyer’s premium). The consigner in New York had bought it from dealer Jean-Luc Baroni and it was estimated here at $2m-3m.
Drawing strong competition, it eventually sold at $10.3m (£7.99m), including premium – a hefty return on the sum paid over the five years.
Among the other records prices at the sale for Flemish and Dutch pictures was the $8.9m for Virgin and Child with Saints attributed to Hugo Van Der Goes. It had previously been on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1998.
Christie’s head of Old Masters in New York Francois de Poortere said: “Global participation and deep bidding on top lots – from both traditional and new buyers – established eight new world auction records and signals the strength of the Old Masters market.”
The sale total was $32.7 (£25.4) with 73% of the lots finding buyers.