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New attributions for Brian Sewell’s Old Master drawings

26 August 2016

Apollo’s regular round-up of art market headlines and comment. Visit Apollo Collector Services for expert advice on navigating the art market.

Brian Sewell collection produces slew of Old Master drawing attributions | The late Brian Sewell knew a decent Old Master drawing when he saw one. Further evidence of this has emerged in new attributions made through Christie’s research before the sale of his collection on 27 September.

Dr Julian Brooks of the J. Paul Getty Museum helped attribute the study of a soldier carrying a ladder, pictured, to the Florentine artist Agostino Ciampelli (1565–1630). The subject is thought to relate to a Medici marriage in 1589 (est. £20,000–30,000).

Ciampelli

Detail of soldier carrying a ladder, and a subsidiary study of a man holding a torch (recto), with a faint fragmentary study (verso), Agostino Ciampelli.

Dido reclining, asleep, acquired in the early 1960s as a work by an accomplished follower of Michelangelo, has been attributed to Daniele da Volterra (1509–66). (est. £100,000-150,000). The art historian Viviana Farina and Gabriele Finaldi, the director of London’s National Gallery, have identified a profile study as ‘typical of the technique of Jusepe de Ribera [1591–1652] when using red chalk’ (est. £6,000–8,000).

A Christie’s spokesperson said the glut of attributions was due to the fact that Old Master drawings are often unsigned and usually less well documented than paintings: ‘Many of the works were bought 20–30 years ago so it’s not surprising that advances have been made that now help to narrow down and in many of the cases confirm a revised attribution. Brian Sewell was a specialist in the Old Master Department and his expert eye identified these pieces as significant works.’ Christie’s added that these revised attributions are ‘reflected in the estimate as works by those artists identified through this process have more value’.

Steve Cohen’s firm cuts holdings in Sotheby’s | Billionaire art collector Steve Cohen’s company has slashed its holdings in Sotheby’s by two thirds. On 16 May this year, Point72 Asset Management owned 3.2m shares (the fifth largest stake); on 31 July, it had just 1m.

The news came shortly after Chinese life insurance company Taikang became the company’s largest shareholder, buying a 13.5 per cent stake. Taikang CEO and chairman is Chen Dongsheng, grandson-in-law of Mao Zedong and president and founder of Chinese auction house, China Guardian.

Jeff Koons and the curious case of editions | The mystery creator of the artwork at the centre of the spat between dealers Fabrizio Moretti and David Zwirner has been revealed as Jeff Koons. Last week, lawyers for Moretti’s London-based company Blue Art Limited filed an amended complaint against New York dealer Zwirner who, they claim, failed to deliver the work bought two years ago for $2m.

KA’U (#4725)

KA’U (#4725) , 2016, Deborah Butterfield. Courtesy Greg Kucera Gallery

Tribal Art London | Before Parcours des Monde takes over Paris’s Left Bank, Britain’s answer, Tribal Art London, moves into The Mall Galleries by St James’s Park (1–4 September). With 22 international exhibitors, this edition of the fair is the largest yet. Newcomers include Marcuson & Hall (Brussels), concentrating on fibre works and textiles from Asia and Africa; Marcus Raccanello Tribal Art (UK) with Polynesian art, and 2R Ritual Gallery (Brussels) with African pieces. David Attenborough, a collector in the field, is known to drop into this bijou but vibrant gathering.

Sales at Seattle Art Fair | August is dead time for art fairs but an exception to the rule was the second edition of the Seattle Art Fair (4–7 August), which drew 18,000 visitors to the 84 contemporary art galleries exhibiting. Michael Rosenfeld of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery observed that the ‘upbeat collecting community’ had a real camaraderie. ‘The Seattle community has a very different vibe from any other city where I’ve participated in an art fair, he said. ‘There is a real passion for the art, a genuine interest, and they are not only interested in learning about the work of an artist, they are taking the next step and buying it.’

Sales included that of a Deborah Butterfield sculpture for $135,000 and a work by Marie Watt for $40,000 from Seattle-based Greg Kucera Gallery.

Kota reliquary (Mbula Ngulu).

Kota reliquary (Mbula Ngulu). Courtesy David Malik African Art.

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