Auctions | December 5, 2013

Old Master Prints Bring Top Dollar at Swann Galleries’ Fall Auctions


New York—Swann Galleries conducted back-to-back art auctions this fall, with Old Master Through Modern Prints on October 30, and a curated sale titled The Armory Show at 100—in honor of the 100th anniversary of the groundbreaking 1913 show that introduced modern art to the U.S.—on November 5. 

Swann sells more Old Master prints than any other American auction house, and the October sale offered works by Albercht Dürer and Rembrandt van Rijn, from of the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, sold to benefit the acquisitions fund. Among these were some of the auction’s top lots, including Dürer’s St. Jerome in his Study, engraving, 1514, $173,000* and his Melencolia I, engraving, 1514, $149,000—both examples of the artist’s meisterstiche, or master engravings.

Among Rembrandt highlights in the auction were two impressions of Christ Healing the Sick (The Hundred Guilder Print), etching, engraving & drypoint, circa 1643-49. One brought $161,000, the other $40,000. Also desirable were his The Adoration of the Shepherds: with the Lamp, etching, circa 1654, $35,000; Self Portrait in a Velvet Cap and Plume, etching, 1638, $23,750 and Bearded Man in a Velvet Cap with a Jewel Clasp, etching, 1637, $20,000.

Additional Old Masters of note were Jan Muller (after Spranger), Minerva Giving Arms to Perseus, Mercury Fastening the Wings at his Feet, engraving, 1604, $30,000; a collection of 26 engravings of Grotteschi, French school, 17th Century, $62,500 and Giovanni B. Piranesi, Carceri d’Invenzione, set of 16 etchings with engraving, 1749-50, $20,000.

Modern highlights in the October sale included Carmen, color lithograph after Marc Chagall, 1967, $47,500; Martin Lewis’s Glow of the City, etching, 1929, $40,000 and Rain on Murray Hill, drypoint, 1928, $23,750; Nature morte devant une Fenêtre à St. Raphael after Pablo Picasso, color photogravure with drypoint and aquatint, 1919, $28,750 and Henri Matisse, Masque au Petit Nez, aquatint, 1948, $22,500.


Edvard Munch’s Der Kuss was the top lot in the November 5 Armory Show auction. The etching from 1895 is extremely scarce and this impression showed all of  the fine details and burnishing in the subjects. It sold for $185,000.

Other Munch highlights were Der To dim Ktankenzimmer, lithograph, 1896, $60,000 and Kvinnehode, drypoint, 1902, $20,000.

The top American print was John Marin’s Woolworth Building (The Dance), etching and drypoint, 1913, at $81,250.

A pair of Duchamp works set new auction records. La Mariée, a color aquatint and etching after the same titled painting, 1934, sold for $40,000; while Pharmacie, color collotype with hand-coloring in gouache, 1945, brought $25,000.

Also achieving record prices were James A.M. Whistler’s The Smithy, etching and drypoint, 1880, $21,250; Paul Signac’s Le Dimanche Parisien, lithograph, 1887, $17,500; and a copy of the official poster for the 1913 Armory Show, International Exhibition of Modern Art, which beat all previous auction prices to sell for $27,500.

Additional highpoints in the Armory Show sale were Georges Braque’s Etude de Nu, etching and drypoint, 1907-08, $45,000; Fernand Léger’s Le Vase, color lithograph, 1927, $37,500; Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s L’Album des Douze Lithographies Originales, complete set of 12 lithographs, 1904-19, $30,000; Paul Gauguin’s Mahna no Varua Ino, woodcut, 1893-94, $27,500 and two nudes by Henri Matisse, Nu Debout au Peignoir, etching, 1929, $23,750 and Nu assis, vu de dos, lithograph, 1913, $21,250.

For complete results, illustrated catalogues with prices realized (on request) are available from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to propose consignments to Swann’s upcoming auctions of Works of Art on paper, please contact Todd Weyman at (212) 254-4710, extension 32, or via e-mail at

*All prices include buyer’s premium.

First image: Albrecht Dürer, Melencolia I, engraving, 1514. Sold Oct. 30 for $149,000 (including buyer's premium).

Second image: Edvard Munch, Der Kuss, etching and drypoint, 1895. Sold Nov. 5 for $185,000 (including buyer's premium).