Awaited impatiently since its adjournment on 27 March, the sale of part of the former collection of Marcel Lecomte (1914-1996), a Parisian art lover, dealer and expert, ended with the triumph of a moving print by Rembrandt.
Rembrandt Van Rijn (1606-1669), "Jan Lutma, goldsmith", 1656, etching and dry point, first state proof (one of five), 19.8 x 15 cm.
This incomparable collection enabled the public to once more see some of the finest European prints ever produced, all too rarely available for viewing. After unveiling some remarkable plates from between the 15th and 18th centuries (often sporting outstanding provenances, from Friedrich August II of Saxony to Adalbert von Lanna), the sale garnered a grand total of €1,209,584, with 85% of the lots sold. The highest bid went to Rembrandt Van Rijn's portrait of "Jan Lutma, goldsmith" (19.8 x 15 cm), engraved in 1656: a first state proof (one of five, without the window seen in the final version). His compatriot Hendrik Goltzius was represented by another famous print (40.3 x 33 cm), "Hercules killing Cacus", which fetched €82,940. Old Masters were dominated unsurprisingly by Albrecht Dürer, whose magnificent proof of "The Effects of Jealousy", an engraving of 1498 (31.8 x 22.1 cm), went for €30,624. And yet the French artist Jean Duvet, aka "The Master of the Unicorn", pipped him at the post with €33,176 for "Saint Sebastian between Saint Anthony, the first hermit, and Saint Rocco": a work rarely seen on the market. High scores were obtained by 18th century artists, especially one of the virtuosos of the genre, Gabriel de Saint-Aubin. His "Conference of Lawyers" of 1776, a portrait format in-8 etching with brown pencil highlights annotated in his handwriting, went all the way up to €79,112. Honoré Fragonard also made a fine showing with "The Little Park; view of the Villa d’Este in Tivoli": a delightful landscape format in-8 etching that sold for €76,560.