Italian scenes set new department record

4th March 2020

A pair of Italian paintings by a late Baroque artist have proved themselves the remarkable star lot of the Old Masters auction at Woolley and Wallis in Salisbury after selling for a premium-inclusive £325,000.

The artworks by Jacopo Amigoni broke the Paintings department’s in-house record of £244,000, set in 2014 for a painting by Alfred Munnings, but were not expected to fetch quite such a significant sum.

“Although works by Amigoni have fetched six figures in the past, these are the exception rather than the rule,” explained Head of Paintings, Victor Fauvelle. “These paintings are a quarter of the size of those that have fetched upwards of £200,000 elsewhere, and the price is certainly in the top 10% for this artist. Recent auction records show massive swings in the market for early 18th century Italian artists, so it’s great to know that we’ve caught the attention of collectors.”

The pair of paintings depicting the religious scenes of Laban searching for his idols, and the Finding of Moses, were consigned from a private collection in Oxfordshire and had come via descent from the collection of the Houston-Boswall family, where they had been for upwards of 50 years.

“There is little doubt that the market freshness of the paintings contributed to the interest in them,” continued Fauvelle. “Similarly, true pairs of paintings of this period are not common. I think they just ticked a lot of boxes for collectors, and we’re delighted for our vendor that they have proved so popular.”

Bidding opened at the Salisbury saleroom at £10,000 and quickly rose to six figures, with a bank of telephone bidders dominating the proceedings. The successful Italian buyer was a telephone bidder who was chased up by an underbidder also on the ‘phone.

It is believed that the paintings were executed between 1730 and 1739, a period when Amigoni was working in England and carrying out commissions at Moor Park and Wolterton Hall.

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