Old London Bridge, viewed from the south by Claude De Jongh, £185,000 at Christie’s.

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A view of old London Bridge by Claude De Jongh (c.1605-63) came to Christie’s on December 7 from a UK source which was described in the catalogue as the ‘property of a gentleman’.

A rare contemporary record of the first stone bridge across the Thames (the only thoroughfare over the river until Westminster Bridge opened in 1750), it was one of a small number of paintings of the scene that de Jongh derived from an earlier drawing that the Utrecht-born artist made in 1627.

The 16½ x 22in (42 x 56cm) oil on panel was signed and dated 1636. It was around half the size of another more panoramic view of the same setting that came from the descendants of the Earls of Northbrook and sold for a record £900,000 at Christie’s in 2019.

Given a lower pitch of £60,000- 80,000, it drew two phone bidders and another participant in the room who were all prepared to go over £150,000. However, as the competition eventually slowed down, another bidder at the back of the room dramatically entered the contest and won the lot with a single bid of £185,000.

Other than the price for the 2019 picture, it was the highest sum for de Jongh at auction.

Seat of power


The Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, London by David Roberts, £220,000 at Sotheby’s.

Meanwhile, at Sotheby’s on December 6, a decent competition developed for an atmospheric view of the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey by David Roberts (1796-1864).

The 2ft x 3ft 6in (61cm x 1.07m) signed oil on canvas again had provenance to a prominent collection and was consigned by a descended of William Eric Ward, 3rd Earl of Dudley (1894-1969).

Dating from 1861, it was a piece of Victorian art the like of which has been appearing more frequently in Old Master sales of late – a sign of the weakening supply in this flagship category which was traditionally dedicated to European works from before 1800.

The work itself was a part of a series of views of the Thames which Roberts painted during the last four years of his life. The artist had met Sir Charles Barry, architect of the newly completed Houses of Parliament, shortly before his own death in 1860. Barry strongly supported Roberts’ plans to paint his famous edifice.

By this time Roberts had become renowned for his topographical Orientalist scenes, many of which were published as lithographs. This part of his oeuvre inevitably remains commercially favoured by collectors and examples of his large-scale Eastern landscapes have commanded almost all of his highest auction prices.

Before this sale, the highest sum for a non-Orientalist picture by Roberts at auction came at Sotheby’s in 2018 when another London scene from the same period, a view from Waterloo Bridge showing St Paul’s Cathedral and Somerset House, made £205,000.

The current picture marginally eclipsed that price. Against an estimate of £100,000-150,000, it came down to a battle between a phone bidder and online buyer, selling to the latter at £220,000 – the seventh-highest price for Roberts at auction according to

Buyer’s premiums

Sotheby’s: 26/20/13.9% + 1% overhead premium

Christie’s: 26/21/15%