Top Lots: Old Master Drawings

On January 29, after a five-year hiatus from sales of Old Master Drawings, Swann returned to the category during Old Masters Week in New York with an excellent sale of more than 300 drawings. The top lot, a watercolor titled From Ehrenbreitstein, brought $42,000. Originally identified as from the circle of Joseph M.W. Turner, it was likely painted by Turner himself during his tour of the Rhine in 1817.

Circle of J.M.W. Turner, From Ehrenbreitstein, watercolor, circa 1817. 

The catalogue for the auction was divided by artist’s country of origin, and works in the Italian section performed particularly well. Guido Reni’s Head of a Woman Looking to the Left, possibly related to the head of Cleopatra in Sir Denis Mahon’s collection, sold for $28,800, and a group of chalk and pencil drawings by Giovanni Domenico Campiglia and others sold for $36,000. The striking Study of a Grotesque Dragon by Giulio Romano brought $22,800, well above the pre-sale estimate.

Giulio Romano, Study of a Grotesque Dragon, pen and ink and wash drawing.

Among the Dutch works, the colorful Still Life with Flowers, Insects and a Snail, circle of Joris Hoefnagel, sold for $31,200. 

Circle of Joris Hoefnagel, Still Life with Flowers, Insects and a Snail,
watercolor, gouache and gold on vellum, 1589.