“Long winter for Old Masters” headlined the Financial Times’ Collecting section this past weekend, referring to the bad performances of London Old Master auctions the previous week. Although Georgina Adam is right in making this statement, what isn’t mentioned is the serious lack of good quality paintings on offer, the ridiculously high estimates given by auction house experts, and a headline lot failing to sell because of authenticity concerns.
After a calm August, the art world frenzy is starting to pick up and this week's auction at Nye & Co in New Jersey caused great excitement among the Old Master dealers. This small work on board catalogued as Continental School, 19th century with an estimate of $500-800 sold for $870,000 believed to be a lost-panel by a teenage Rembrandt.
This portrait of a man by Jean-Baptiste Greuze fetched 620,000 Euro at auction this week - what an incredible price for a work by this French romantic painter of the 18th century. The auction house Rieunier & Associes in Paris put an estimate of 120,000 - 150,000 Euro.
There has been a frenzy of cultural activities in London this past few weeks with Fashion Week, BAFTA and Brit Awards making the city a buzzing hot spot for creative industries. But my eyes stay focused on art and after being away for several weeks, I am ready to catch up with the exhibitions in London.
Although these loan exhibitions are to promote the LGT Bank (owned by the princely House of Liechtenstein) in Asia, it certainly serves a great cultural purpose. The show is curated by Dr. Johann Kraftner, the family's art advisor and director of its two museums in Vienna, and brings together by masterworks including Raphael, Rubens, Canaletto and Pieter Brueghel the Younger.
The Canaletto on view was sold to the coll ection through the London-based Old Master dealer Derek Johns, who recently started a new venture in Singapore as well. Together with his Singapore-based partner Chng Hock Huat, and joining forces with Monaco-based dealer Marietta Vinci-Corsini (widow of the famous dealer Piero Corsini who passed away in 2001) Derek Johns has set up Emperor Fine Art in Singapore, giving the opportunity to see European Old Master paintings within the Asian region.
Johns and Corsini selected a group of paintings from their gallery stock to send to Singapore and held their first official week of events which cleverly corresponded with the opening of the Liechtenstein exhibition on 26th of June.
Add all this information on to the fact that just a month ago, the Singaporean government announced that the Pinacothèque de Paris is to bring Old Masters and Modern art in a pop-up space from September during the renovations to its main building in Paris. Owned and run by the Modigliani scholar Marc Restellini, the Pinacothèque first opened in 2007, and since 2011 has been displaying a collection of masterpieces from Van Dyck, Monet and Modigliani to Picasso and Pollock; all works on loan from private or public collections.
Singaporeans are getting a series of events and exhibitions highlighting Old Masters! Exhibitions are a great way to educate and expose audiences to such works, which is even better news for the dealers as they hope that after viewing and admiring the Old Master treasures on display, the Asian audience will be more inclined to start collecting them too.