The sale of Old Master and 19th century paintings and drawings held in New York on June 3 raised a premium-inclusive total of $365,813 with 88% sold by lot.
Leading the sale was the French artist Emile Friant’s (1863-1932) portrait of the early couturier Charles Frederick Worth (1825-95).
English-born Worth, who set up a fashion house in Paris in 1858 which attracted a fashionable and royal clientele, is widely regarded as the father of couture.
The large 7ft 5in x 4ft (2.2 x 1.24m) full-length portrait signed E Friant and dated 93 shows Worth standing dressed in a his characteristic cravat, loose jacket, cloak and hat and was painted just two years before the couturier’s death, aged 67.
It had an attractive provenance, having been consigned direct from one of the sitter’s descendants, and outstripped its $15,000-20,000 estimate to make $42,500 (£33,730).
Leoni doubles up
The majority of the drawings offered in the sale came from the estate of Robin R Henry and encompassed both Old Master and 19th century works. Some outstripped their estimates by considerable margins.
Two drawings by the late 16th early 17th century artist Ottavio Maria Leoni (1578-1630) were included among the Old Master works.
One, measuring 7½ x 5¾in (19 x 14.5cm), in black chalk on blue paper, depicted a head and shoulders portrait of a man wearing a large ruff. This had a provenance to the dealers P&D Colnaghi in 1988 followed by two appearances at Christie’s London in 2001 and 2007. It sold for $40,000 (£31,745) against predictions of $3000-5000.
The second was a similar-sized double-sided work in chalk on blue paper showing a portrait of a woman to the recto and a half-length female figure to the verso. It was also Inscribed indistinctly Port… zarola Mag… on the back. This drawing had a provenance to Nissman Abromson, Brookline, Massachusetts. It sold at a top-estimate $15,000 (£11,905).
Well over expectations
Two of Henry’s 19th century drawings also proved much more sought after than predicted. One was a very finished portrait of the actor Simon Chenard that was attributed to the French genre artist, portraitist and documentor of Parisian life, Louis-Leopold Boilly (1761-1845), and came with a modest $600-900 guide.
The 10 x 8in (27 x 20cm) work, in black chalk heightened with white on blue paper, showed Chenard, a popular French actor and singer, half length in profile with his arms folded. On the back was an architectural sketch.
The drawing had a provenance to the New York dealers Eric G Carlson and WM Brady & Co and ended up making $14,000 (£11,110).
Estimated even more modestly, at $400-600, was the French artist Leon Benouville’s portrait of fellow artist Alexandre Cabanel at the age of 23. The 9x 6¾in (23 x 17cm) pencil on paper sketch, which had a 2003 provenance to the dealer Yvonne Tan Bunzl, was signed, dated Rome 1846 (the year after Cabanel And Benouville both won the prix de Rome scholarship) and had a dedication a son ami A Cabanel L Benouville. It ended up selling for $11,000 (£8730).
Another top price in the auction, selling for $37,500 (£29,760) against an $8000-12,000 estimate, was a 2ft 1in x 3ft 5in (64cm x 1.04m) oil on panel of Persephone: An Allegory of Spring attributed to two artists: Hendrick van Balen the Younger (1623-61) and Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-78).
£1 = $1.26