A rare oil sketch by Rembrandt, Study of a Head of a Young Man (c.1650), sold for £9,480,800 at Sotheby’s Old Masters Evening Sale on 5 December.
Appearing on the market for the first time in 60 years, the 17th-century masterpiece left its estimate of £6-8 million far behind at Sotheby’s London auction house.
A touching portrait of Christ, the painting until recently hung in the Dutch master’s house in Amsterdam.
Interest in the work heightened even further when—in preparation for display in the seminal exhibition Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus, at the Louvre, Paris in 2011—two fingerprints were found while the painting underwent cleaning and conservation.
Experts believe the prints belong to Rembrandt himself.
The evening clearly did belong to Dutch and Flemish art on Wednesday (5 December)—offering fresh-to-the-market works and totaling £30.2 million.
Royal portraits of King Charles I’s two eldest children by Sir Anthony van Dyck joined the top of the sale, realising £2.6 million and £790,000 respectively.
Providing a deep likeness of the 11-year-old Prince of Wales (later King Charles II) and his nine-year-old sister Mary (the mother of future king, William III), the works are among the last painted by the artist.
The portraits were composed on the eve of the English Civil War (1641) and depict the royal children when their world, and the Stuart monarchy, was on the brink of collapse.
Other highlights from the sale included Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael’s A Harleempje: a panoramic view of Haarlem and the bleaching fields seen from the north-west (c.1670), which sold for £2.6 million.
One of the finest works by Jan van de Cappelle, A Calm Sea (c.1654) achieved £2.1 million and Jan Brueghel the Elder’s pioneering work, An extensive coastal landscape with fisherman landing and selling their catch, Jonah being cast overboard and offshore (1595) fetched £1,990,000.
A beautiful triptych attributed to the Master of Saint Veronica (c.1410) realised £1.6 million and the sale also saw a refined depiction of Christ by a close associate of Leonardo da Vinci (c.1510) soar to £874,000.
Sotheby’s upcoming Master Paitnings Evening Sale is expected to headline an impressive group of Dutch masterpieces from a distinguished private collection on 30 January 2019 in New York.
See also: The Masters of Dutch Golden Age Painting