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.

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.