International Art Market: Victorians in demand as prices soar again

NO ONE could have forecast that high Victorian paintings would become a favourite collecting field of post-recession art buyers but the New York sales in February showed that they have. James Jacques Tissot, the voluptuous painter of beautiful women, was the star turn of both Christie's and Sotheby's auctions. His 7ft painting of The Orphan, a beauty in black with a little girl among reeds, set a price record for the artist at dollars 2.97m ( pounds 2.09m), more than tripling Christie's estimate.

Sotheby's had one Tissot at dollars 1.98m ( pounds 1.37m) and two at dollars 882,500 ( pounds 610,700). Tissot was a Frenchman who lived in England; he had a studio in Hampstead and a beautiful Irish mistress called Kathleen Newton who posed for most of the paintings, including The Orphan. He handed on his studio to the Dutchman Sir Lawrence Alma- Tadema, who specialised in everyday scenes in ancient Greece and Rome. Both have become English painters by adoption and Tissot has emerged as the most expensive of all British late 19th- century painters.

The London dealer David Mason paid some of the most sensational prices in New York. He fought for The Orphan with Jack Nicholson, the film star, and won. He went on to spend dollars 800,000, more than double Sotheby's estimate, on Sir Frank Dicksee's luscious rendition of The Mirror, a woman on a mother of pearl throne, draped in rich silks, staring at her reflection in a hand mirror - again an auction price record for the artist.

Several of the New York prices exceeded levels achieved for the artists at the height of the Eighties boom. The market has picked up sharply, according to Christopher Wood, a Bond Street specialist in Victorian paintings.

The rich were also feeling in spending mood on the ski slopes of St Moritz. Every February Sotheby's and Christie's carry jewel auctions up the mountains to get them spending apres ski. Sotheby's scored their highest- ever sale total at pounds 6.5m; a dealer based in Jeddah and Geneva, Sheikh Ahmed Fitaihi, carried off a pear-shaped diamond weighing 30.07 carats, at pounds 467,972.

The new sense of prosperity in the market also infected British buyers. Sotheby's in London saw private buyers, rather than dealers, bidding enthusiastically for standard 18th-century furniture pieces. Only 30 out of 210 lots were left unsold; pounds 34,500 was paid for a pair of George III giltwood sofas estimated at pounds 20,000- pounds 25,000.

British porcelains shared in the price hike. A group of rare 18th-century blue and white pieces put together in the early years of the century by one Alice Bremner, and sent for sale by her nephew, more than tripled presale estimates. A small Worcester bell-shaped mug circa 1760-70 fetched pounds 7,475 against an estimate of pounds 1,500- pounds 2,500.

Not every market has recovered its former buoyancy. Modern paintings are still in the doldrums. Almost half of Christie's contemporary art sale in New York, and 36 per of Sotheby's, were left unsold.

It was mainly the withdrawal of Japanese buyers that led to the collapse of the modern picture market in 1990. The home market in Japanese modern paintings collapsed at the same time.

A Shinwa auction of modern pictures in Tokyo on 18 February saw 49 out of 79 pictures on offer find buyers, not a sensational result but an improvement on last year. They also managed to sell their three most expensive paintings. A roofscape of the Forbidden City, Peking painted in brightly coloured, Fauve style by Ryuzaburo Umehara, sold on estimate for 94 million yen ( pounds 561,194).

(Photograph omitted)

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album