The Timeline Expensive: Art

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The Independent Culture

1654

Rembrandt, 'Hundred Guilder Print' (1647)

This etching showed Christ healing the lepers, and its title reflected the unusually high prices Rembrandt could command. In 1654, Antwerp art dealer Joannes Meyssens wrote to the Bishop of Bruges, Karel van den Bosch: "I know that it sold on various occasions in Holland for one hundred guilders and more ... although it should only cost 30 guilders."

1771

Jan van Huysum, 'Green grapes on the vine' (1731)

Huysum's vivid still lifes were popular with private art collectors and royalty in the Netherlands and beyond. His paintings sold for over a thousand guilders, and within 22 years of his death, Jan Janz Gildermesster paid 4,100 guilders for a still life of grapes and flowers. By 2005, it sold for £3,760,000.

1860

William Holman Hunt, 'The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple' (1854-60)

Ernest Gambert, a big mover in the Victorian art world, bought this painting in 1860 for £5,500 – the equivalent of more than £2m today – making it the most expensive painting ever bought from a living artist at that time.

1890

Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier, 'The Campaign of France' (1814)

While he might not sound so familiar today, in his own lifetime Meissonier was among the world's most famous painters. A year before his death 'The Campaign of France' sold for 850,000 francs – the highest price paid for an artwork in the 19th century.

1899

Titian, 'Sacred and Profane Love' (1514)

Commissioned from a 25-year-old Titian as a wedding present, this work was bought by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the early 1600s. By 1899, the Rothschild family tried to buy it for 4m lire – more than the estimated 3.6m lire value of the entire Borghese Gallery and collection. The gallery refused and the painting remains there today.

1958

Paul Cézanne, 'Garcon au Gilet Rouge' (1888-89)

Sold for £220,000 – more than five times the previous record for a painting at an auction – Cézanne's work was one of seven Impressionist and Modernist works sold in the 1958 Goldschmidt sale at Sotheby's. All the pictures sold in 21 minutes, fetching a total of £781,000, in what was one of the most important auctions of the 20th century.

2010

Pablo Picasso, 'Nude, Green Leaves and Bust' (1932)

This painting sold for $106,482,500 [£71m] at Christie's in New York on Tuesday. A portrait of his muse and mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, the 1932 canvas set a world record for a work of art sold at auction.

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