Adding one final sale to the end of a long two weeks of auctions, Christie’s “Defining British Art” Sale this past evening notched an impressive last set of sales for the spring season, pushing a 29-lot sale of works ranging from Impressionist Masterpieces to Modernist Sculpture to Contemporary pieces to an impressive £99,479,500 final tally. The sale saw only two works go unsold over the course of the evening, and offering an exclamation point at the end of a week that did much to challenge assumptions over the impact of the Brexit on market health in Europe.
At the center of the sale was Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure: Festival, a fluid and curving prime example of the artist’s hand, and one which ultimately set a new record for the artist with a final price of £24,722,500, selling to a phone bidder after a competitive session. A Francis Bacon work, Version No. 2 of Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe, also met with strong results, finishing to the tune of £20,242,500, and also going to a phone bidder represented by Brett Gorvy.
Other top sales came from a classic Bridget Riley, soundly topping estimate to reach a final price of £4,338,500, while a John Constable landscape, situated at the center of the evening’s proceedings, met an equally square price, finishing as expected at a final price of £14,082,500. A sculpture by Barbara Hepworth also settled cleanly within estimate for a final price of £3,554,500
By contrast, a Lucian Freud work that sat near the top of the evening’s price list never managed to generate interest, and ultimately went unsold, just one of two sour notes in an auction that brought the June sales in London to an unexpectedly enthusiastic close.
— D. Creahan
Christie’s “Defining British Art” Sale [Christie’s]
Christie’s ‘Defining British Art’ Brings Out Bidders [NYT]
June Sales End in Style with Christie’s Defining British Art Auction [Art Info]
London Art Market Rides Out Brexit, Sets Records as Pound Drops [Bloomberg]