On the Block: What to Watch the Week of June 6

A little something for everyone this week with a themed sale, some ceramics, and a whole lot of Old Masters


The week’s sales begin the morning of Tuesday, June 7 at Bonhams’ New York outpost. The Male Form, beginning at 10 am EDT, explores a single theme through the work of a wide range of artists. The sale includes a 1977 Warhol Torso with an $150,000 estimate. The work comes from Warhol’s series of close ups on the male body, and it last sold for $187,200 over a $120,000 estimate in 2006. Bonhams is also offering a 1966 work by Salvador Dalí that has seen the block a few times previously. The work on paper has a $180,000 estimate. In 2015, the work sold for $239,507 over a $204,170 estimate, but when it was offered at Bonhams in 2020, it passed. Perhaps one of the best-known masters of the male form from the past century, Robert Mapplethorpe has a number of lots in the sale. A portrait of Dennis Morgan from 1980 is being offered with a $8,000 estimate. 

The following day, on Wednesday June 8 in New York, Phillips is holding a sale of mainly ceramics and ceramic-adjacent objects from the estate of Jack R. Bershad. The sale includes a 1981 four-piece "Seaform" set by Dale Chihuly from 1981. It has an estimate of $10,000. Another nature-inspired piece, Cathedral Canyon by Wayne Higby is being offered with a $15,000 estimate.

A few blocks over from Phillps at Rockefeller Center, Christie’s will be hosting three Old Masters sales. On Thursday, June 9 at 10 am EDT, Christie’s presents Old Masters | New Perspectives: Masterworks from The Alana Collection. At the top of the price spectrum, Christie’s is offering a 15th century tempera and gold work on panel by Fra Angelico. The work has a $4,000,000 estimate which, if met, would surpass the artist’s current sale record of $3,852,239 set in 2007. At the same price point, a Madonna and Child from a slightly later time period is also being offered with a $4,000,000 estimate. Painted by Orazio Gentileschi, this work last sold in 2007 for $4,127,817, the artist’s third highest price at auction. From the same time period, a half-length portrait by El Greco is being offered with a $3,000,000 estimate. The price seems high when compared with two other portraits that sold at auction recently, but the work coming up at Christie’s has a particularly striking face and a decorated exhibition history that includes the Prado and the Boston MFA, among others.

The following day, Christie’s will have a second Old Masters sale at 10 am EDT. The sale is positioned to complement the collection from the day before. Notably, the auction includes works by women artists. Due to the scarce opportunities for women artists in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, these works are accompanied by an aura of rarity. A 1612 painting of a floral arrangement by Clara Peeters is coming onto the block with a $1,200,000 estimate. If the work sells near or at estimate, it could set a new record price for the Flemish painter. Her previous record is held by a 1611 still life that sold for $881,506 in 2007. A slightly later picture from the 1630s by recently revived historical hero Artemisia Gentileschi is also available in the sale. The painting of Saint Cecilia is being offered with a $300,000 estimate.

Concurrent with these in-person events, Christie’s is also holding an online auction called Old Masters: No Reserves. The sale encompasses five centuries of European painting and sculpture, and the objects are being offered without reserves. The auction house is framing this sale as a way of giving collectors greater access to historical works.

Find fifty-plus years of historical auction data, live bid streaming, and easy-to-read results on the LiveArt app, available in the Apple App Store or through Google Play.

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