New Moment for Old Masters

 picture-97

Portrait of the Artist’s Daughter, Marguerite Elisabeth de Largillierre.
Nicolas de Largillierre (1656 – 1746.)
Old Master Paintings auction (estimate: $500,000 – 700,000)

With fortunes diminished around the globe, one can imagine that the purchase of art has become a low priority. Art prices have climbed so high, with even a minor work from a contemporary artist costing more than an average San Francisco condominium, that the art market has got to be effected. But in what way? Will collectors stop buying? Or will they simply stop buying certain kinds of things in favor of others?

It is into this uncertain new environment that Sotheby’s, on January 29 and 30, 2009 in New York, will hold its auction: “Important Old Master Paintings, Including European Works of Art.”

But as in real estate, smart money is out there shopping, and we have a hunch this auction is going to have surprisingly positive results.

While contemporary art has sold like a dot-com-bubble-era IPO, work created prior to the 20th century has received relatively little attention, and so the prices are actually low. One hates to say that a master artist like J. M. W. Turner is a bargain when his painting “The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius” is given an estimate of $12 to $16 million, but when you consider that British artist Damien Hirst has commanded up to $125 million for a platinum skull covered in diamonds, well, hey, it’s too bad you can’t buy two.

 picture-107
The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius Restored.
Joseph Mallord William Turner R.A. (1775 – 1851)
Old Master Paintings auction (estimate: $12,000,000 – 16,000,000)

But the great old master paintings are worthy of attention not only because the market prices are low, but because the works themselves are undeniably beautiful.

We know you’ll have a wonderful time perusing the Sotheby’s catalogueonline, where you can read more details about the two paintings shown here, and see the other 289 lots. You’ll see gorgeous work from Titian, Frans Hals, Goya, Greuze, Regnault, and so many others.

What we find most wonderful is that the prices are so wide-ranging. While the high-end of the market reaches multi-millions, there are things that are quite affordable, such as this 15th century alabaster relief (estimate: $5,000 – 7,000.)

 picture-1111
An English Alabaster Relief of the Head of Saint John The Baptist
15th Century, Nottingham
Old Master Paintings auction (estimate: $5,000 – 7,000)