Dürer head the Old Masters

Outside of the Gauguin prints, the highlight of the Sotheby’s prints auction was the set of woodcut star charts by Albert Durer (1471–1528) previewed in ATG no. 1981. Offered together they sold at £300,000, against a £120,000–180,000 estimate, to dealer Daniel Crouch.

Antiques Trade Gazette

Two other Dürer prints also drew decent bidding competition. A copy of the 1514 engraving St Jerome in his Study’ sold to a European private buyer at £130,000, the second highest price for an impression of this subject according to Artnet, only behind the $259,500 (£182,050) seen at Sotheby’s New York in May 1987. From the estate of the American writer Clarence Day, it was a fine copy in good condition and with strong contrasts. While later versions appear on the market quite regularly, Sotheby’s believed this print to be a lifetime copy consistent with the earliest impressions of the subject.

The separately-consigned copy of Dürer’s Melancholia’ at the sale was also deemed a lifetime print which the auctioneers thought compared well with the impression in the British Museum’s collection. Slightly trimmed to the margins, it sold at a top-estimate £70,000.