Auctions: Nearly $11m for a Turner watercolor

Between 1841 and 1844, Turner made annual tours of Switzerland. In 1842, on his return from Lake Lucerne, Turner produced four highly finished watercolors, including The Blue Rigi, which is considered to be the superlative example.

June 15, 2006 09:18
3 minute read.
turner art 88 298

turner art 88 298. (photo credit: )


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An exceptional watercolor of the Rigi mountain overlooking Lake Lucerne, painted by J.M.W. Turner, R.A. (1775-1851) and the most important watercolor to appear at auction for over 50 years, sold at Christie's last week for 5,832,000 ($10,987,488), a world record for a British work on paper. The auctioneer's hammer fell after a tense 10-minute bidding battle won by an anonymous telephone bidder. Between 1841 and 1844, Turner made annual tours of Switzerland. In 1842, on his return from Lake Lucerne, Turner produced four highly finished watercolors, including The Blue Rigi, which is considered to be the superlative example. Critic John Ruskin said of this series that "Turner had never made any drawings like these before and never made any like them again." THE MAY 31 Montefiore auction at Tel Aviv's Dan Hotel took in just $600,000. Some 106 items, 60% of the lots, sold, but many of them were works on paper. Top lot was the fine Lesser Ury pastel Street in Berlin, which together with the commission cost the bidder $69,000. Maurice Utrillo's Street in Montmartre, 1925, went for $48,300, while Maurice Minkowski's The Refugees, 1919, went for $20,700. A Mordecai Levanon of Jerusalem achieved a surprising $21,850. SOTHEBY'S HAS acquired Noortman Master Paintings, a pre-eminent dealer in Old Master, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings based in Maastricht, Holland. Through the transaction, Sotheby's will acquire all the assets of Noortman Master Paintings, which consist principally of art inventory, receivables and the gallery premises. Sotheby's will get 100% of Noortman's outstanding shares in exchange for Sotheby's shares, with an initial consideration worth approximately $56.5 million ( 44 million) or 1.95 million shares at a price of $29.01 per share, as well as the assumption of approximately $26 million in debt. If certain performance criteria are met over the five-year term of Mr. Noortman's employment agreement, an additional 0.5 million shares will be released from escrow as additional consideration. The purchase price is also subject to reduction if certain performance criteria are not met. With this transaction, Mr. Noortman has become a significant shareholder in Sotheby's with approximately 3.2% of Sotheby's shares. He will also join Sotheby's International Advisory Board. Noortman's ability to draw on Sotheby's capital resources and Sotheby's Financial Services will allow him to be more responsive to the sophisticated financial needs of his clients. Robert Noortman opened his first gallery in Holland in 1968. In 1975, he was a founding member of Pictura, the forerunner of TEFAF, now the leading art fair in the world. Noortman was Chairman of TEFAF for 10 years and president for two. He is a major benefactor of the Rijksmuseum, The Mauritshuis, The Hague and the National Gallery, London, where The Noortman Room of Dutch cabinet paintings is on view to the public. FIVE WATERCOLORS by Egon Schiele (1890-1918) are among the highlights of Christie's London evening sale of German and Austrian lots. Painted between 1911 and 1917, they were acquired by Dr. Frederick Gerstel, one of the first collectors in the United States to purchase Schiele's work. These five major works span much of the range of the young artist's numerous and varied sitters. Three of the works, Moa; Stehendes M dchen in weissem Unterkleid (Standing Girl in White Petticoat) and Bildnis eines jungen Mannes (Erich Lederer) have for many years been on long-term loan to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This group allows an intriguing glimpse into Schiele's world and reflects the bohemianism of some of his circle. The dancer Moa featured in several of Schiele's pictures, including this example from 1911 ( 2,400,000- 3,200,000), is filled with the flesh and eroticism that fuels so much of the artist's work. Moa was the girlfriend of Schiele's close friend, the mime Erwin Osen. Osen was also an occasional artist whose interest in strange and distorted poses led him to create several portraits of mentally ill patients, an interest he shared with Schiele. Also in this sale are several other specifically erotic drawings by Schiele and a once lost canvas of his, Autumn Sun, an oil from 1914 of fading sunflowers; it has a rather optimistic estimate of 4m.- 6m. ($8m-$11m.)

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