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7-8 december 2021: Classic vs. Modern, results

Under the title ‘Classic vs. Modern’, the Bernaerts House organised from 7 to 9 December an auction spread over three auction days with a focus on the 20th century, without forgetting classical art. A diverse set of some 1250 lots of quality paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and editions and design.

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A successful combination
The five exhibition spaces were arranged in such a way that the high-quality classical pieces perfectly matched the modern paintings, drawings and design furniture. A remarkably high number of visitors attended the five-day event and in the meantime many new interested parties registered on the various bidding platforms (on ca. 700), on Invaluable (ca. 3300), on Drouotlive and on LiveAuctioneers ca. 250). Below a chronological overview with hammer prices (excl. buyer’s premium 22/25 or 28%)

In the “Classic” segment, a Roman-Egyptian funerary statue (lot 250) was worth €3,600, a late 16th-century Flemish tapestry (lot 302) €9,000, a winter city view by Thomas Heeremans, previously attributed to an apprentice of Klaes Molenaer, €6,000 (lot 267) and a 16th-century retable fragment depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary (lot 262) were worth the same amount.

The 19th century was represented by paintings by Cleto Luzzi (lot 298, res.: € 3400) or Charles Porion (lot 287, left unsold) and Handrick (lot 288, res.: € 3000) and a work in the so-called “pompéien style” by Heva Coomans (lot 289, res.: € 1400) or an interior by Portielje (lot 415, res.: € 3200). A 1917 view of the Middelburg market by Henri Houben (lot 430) also exceeded her estimate (res.: € 7000).

Beyond expectation was a hitherto unknown painting with a trompe-l’oeil depiction of an anthropomorphic animal scene borrowed from Grandville. The canvas, in which the legal profession was denounced, was estimated between € 6000 and 8000 and was awarded € 20,000 (lot 417). The mythological scene of Venus and Adonis, painted by the neoclassical artist Andries Cornelis Lens (lot 274), fetched € 24,000.

A ‘l’amour et la fidelité’ mantelclock in ormolu and black patinated bronze, dating from the Empire-Louis XVIII period, was also sold at € 4400 (lot 317) while an impressive mantel clock (Kreisser, Paris) changed hands for € 10000 (lot 320). Finally, the result of an early 18th century longcase clock made by Joannes Van Ceulenhage caught the eye (lot 387, res.: € 4000).

From the same period a small collection of 19th century cigarette holders and stage viewers was included, which unfortunately did not find a new buyer. In the same so-called ‘Christmas Gifts’ auction, however, some 78 Montblanc pens were put under the hammer, all but a few of which were sold. Amongst these, a ‘Year of the Golden Dragon’ pen (lot 669, res.: € 3600) and a ‘Qing Dynasty’ pen (lot 670, res.: € 3200), the ‘Great Characters Albert Einstein’ pen (lot 624, res.: € 5500) stand out.

Presented between Art-Déco sculptures (a.o. a pair of wrestlers by Iché (lot 735, est.: € 8500/12500, res.: € 22000), a signed chair by Carlo Bugatti (lot 765, res.: € 9000), chryselephantine sculptures by Chiparus (lot 725, res. Intuition nr. 30 bis’ by Marthe Donas from 1958 (lot 808, est.: € 4/5000, res.: € 14000), and ‘Femme’ by Constant Permeke (lot 800, res.: € 16000) from the former Veranneman collection stand out beautifully.

A world record was set for a peerless canvas from 1988 by the lamented Philippe Vandenberg from Richard Foncke’s gallery in Ghent, which was also included in the Works on Paper auction along with a large and two smaller collages (see below). The painting (150 x 200 cm, lot 817) quadrupled its estimate and sold for € 60000 over the phone.

Other results: Sam Dillemans (lot 827, res.: € 17000), Félicien Rops (lot 753, res.: € 5500), Albert Saverijs (lot 771, res.: € 5500), Marcel Cockx (lot 805, res.: € 3400).

In short, Belgian masters were once again in the spotlight.