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Bouguereau`s ‘Pieta’ tops Old Masters sale

New York: A French painting inspired by Michelangelo`s ‘Pieta’ topped Christie`s mid-season Old Masters and 19th century art auction, selling for USD 2.77 million.

Spanning seven centuries of European painting, the sale fetched USD 11.75 million, nearly double the USD 6.5 million sold a year earlier. It slightly exceeded the low pre-sale estimate.

Georgina Wilsenach, who headed the sale, said its total was much more than last year, primarily because was a larger sale, with higher-priced works, rather than because of the improving economy.

"Well-recognized artists were the most appealing to the bidders instead of lesser known painters," she said. "People wanted iconic works that were representative of a particular artist."

Frenchman William Adolphe Bouguereau`s 1876 ‘Pieta’ portrays a red-rimmed eyed Madonna, cradling Christ, as eight angels express grief with separate gestures. Painted after the death of artist`s 16 year-old son, it shows the deceased Jesus, reclined in the Virgin Mary`s lap.

Jesus` bright blue veins contrast with the white pallor of his lifeless limbs. His feet dangle above a blood-soaked cloth, alongside a crown of thorns.

Pieter Brueghel II`s ‘Autumn: An Allegory of one of the Four Seasons’ was the second top seller fetching USD 866,500. Another Brueghel painting, ‘The Blind Hurdy-Gurdy Player’ sold for USD 578,500.

Lucas Carlevarijs` early 18th ‘The Church of San Giorgio and the Grand Canal, Venice,’ sold for USD 602,500.

From the studio of El Greco, a painting called ‘The Agony in the Garden’ fetched USD 386,500. It depicts Christ at the Mount of Olives on the last night of his life, clad in a strawberry red robe. In the distance soldiers approach to arrest him.

The Old Masters mid-season auction in New York traditionally features items under USD 1 million.

Christie`s main Old Masters sales, which are in January, fetched USD 38.5 million in 2010, which was double the amount from the previous year.

Bureau Report

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