Auction of the Week: Anthony van Dyck’s Rare, Newly Discovered Portrait Sells for Record-Setting $2.1 Million
A highlight of Christie’s Old Master and British Drawings on February 1, it is one of the most important Northern drawings to have surfaced in recent decades
A rare drawing from by the Flemish master Anthony van Dyck just sold at Christie’s Old Master and British Drawings sale in New York for $2,107,000, soaring above its low estimate $800,000. It broke the record for the artist.
The portrait titled Portrait of Willem Hondius (ca. 17th century) is a half-length study, and was created by the artist for reproduction. This large set of prints, known as his “Iconographie” series, featured some of the most important creatives from the day, ranging from artists to poets and engravers, like Hondius. The previous record for the artist was set by Christie’s in 1985 with the sale of another study for the same series, titled Portrait of Hendrick van Balen. That work sold for £585,000 in London and was acquired by J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California.
“The sale of Dyck’s Portrait of Hondius continues Christie’s good fortune with this artist, and shows once again that exceptional work can do better than ever,” says Stijn Alsteens, International Head of Old Master Drawings Department. “As a whole, the number of participants at the auction, the sell-through rate achieved, and the prices obtained confirm that drawings of all schools and at all price levels attract strong interest from private collections, public institutions and the trade.”
According to the auction house, the work was first purchased by a renowned Swedish miniature artist in Paris in the 18th century and it was displayed in an exhibition of his collection in 1779. The piece was eventually sold to a relative of the current consignor in Sweden. Out of the approximately fifty drawings from Van Dyck’s portrait series—which are all held in public museums—Willem Hondius is the last remaining one in private hands.
Other top lots in the Drawings Sale reveal a growing demand for works on paper. Francesco Salviati’s two-sided sheet of figure studies, for example, brought $529,200, while a a 16th century drawing of Breugel’s famous Painter and the Connoisseur, commanded $108,000. Joseph Mallord William Turner’s watercolour, Plymouth Citadel, a gale, realized $151,200.