Art Market: Telephone bid secures 'Jerusalem' for 617,500 pounds

Dalya Alberge
Wednesday 01 December 1993 01:02

The last complete copy in private hands of William Blake's prophetic book, Jerusalem, was sold at Christie's yesterday for pounds 617,500. Bearing in mind that many regard it as Blake's greatest work, Christie's had prophesied that it would sell for between pounds 600,000 and pounds 1m. It went to an anonymous telephone bidder, writes Dalya Alberge.

Jerusalem, whose main theme is the Fall and Redemption of Man, brought little financial reward to Blake, who began the work in 1804. He failed to find a buyer for his illuminated set and only four other complete copies were printed in his lifetime. The Christie's example was the earliest; the others are all in public collections. But since Blake was continually experimenting, they all differ.

It came from a collection of books and prints by Blake assembled by the late Frank Rinder.

A rare Chinese scroll painting found in the back of a cupboard in Scotland, where it had lain for more than 60 years, has sold for a record pounds 239,530 - almost 10 times its estimate, at Sotheby's in New York.

The painting by the Italian Guiseppe Castiglione (1688-1768), was put on the market by an anonymous opera singer in Scotland, who decided to hold on to it after a dealer offered him pounds 5 for it.

Following the relative success of its main evening sale of Impressionist works of art - when Rousseau's striking portrait of Joseph Brummer sold for pounds 2.97m and Dufy's Les Deux Modeles for pounds 463,500 - Christie's yesterday held the second part of the auction.

Although 84 per cent of the items found buyers in part I, the figure was reduced to 64 per cent sold by value. Among the most sought-after works were Magritte's surreal L'Espion, which fetched pounds 133,500; and Ernst's On Parle le Latin, which sold for pounds 117,000. Both were within their respective estimates.

The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich has bought an important 18th-century pocket chronometer which for the first time allowed navigators to determine their longitude at sea. The chronometer, believed to have sold for less than the estimated pounds 80,000 to pounds 100,000, is on display at the Old Royal Observatory, part of the National Maritime Museum.

(Photograph omitted)

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