Sotheby’s evening sale of Old Master & British Paintings on July 9 brought in more than $60 million, a quarter of which was spent on a single piece, setting a new world record for that artist.
The market demand for Old Master & British paintings appears to be as hot as ever; Sotheby’s experienced yet another auction in which buyers’ checkbooks were smoking by the end of the evening. The star lot of the night was Lucas Cranach the Elder’s “Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth),” an odd but entrancing piece that realized $14.4 million, a new record for the artist. The painting was pursued by three bidders and nearly doubled the artist’s previous record. Sotheby’s reports, “This masterpiece of German Renaissance painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder can be counted amongst his most important works remaining in private hands today. It was painted in Wittenberg around 1525-28 and depicts the rarely illustrated subject of the Bocca della Verità or the ‘Mouth of Truth.’ This unusual story relates to an ancient stone mask of a river god that remains to this day in the porch of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, of which it was said that anyone who did not speak the truth while placing their hand inside the open mouth of the river god would lose it.”
Cranach the Elder wasn’t the only artist breaking auction records, however. Ferdinand Bol’s “Portrait of a Boy,” Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo’s “Unfinished Portrait,” an early still life by Fede Galizia, and Joseph Heintz’s “Diana and Callisto” all set new world records as well.
To learn more, visit ArtDaily or Sotheby’s.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.