Warsaw’s soaring reputation on the international art market has taken another leap forward after a work by Peter Paul Rubens went under the hammer last night and sold for PLN 14.4 million – a record for the Polish market.
“The presentation of Portrait of a Lady is an event of huge importance for the art market,” said Juliusz Windorbski, President of DESA. “This work, nearly 400-years-old, has remained in private hands in recent decades, and has not been shown publicly since 1965. Portraits by the Flemish painter rarely appear in Europe, and a work of art with such huge historical, artistic and investment value has never been shown before in Poland.
“This distinguished work, with a model provenance and confirmed authenticity, can reinforce Poland’s already strong position on the auction map of Europe,” he continued. “Last year alone, DESA Unicum exhibited works by such world renowned figures as Auguste Rodin and Chen Wenling.”
Thought to have been painted by the Baroque master in his Antwerp studio between around 1620 and 1625, the work is customarily described as depicting Rubens’ first wife, Isabella Brant. Having swapped hands numerous times (previous owners included Sir Peter Lely, financier Robert Rowe and the mining magnate Jules Porgès), it later found itself in the collection of the Egyptian royal family.
Taking up residency in Paris following the 1952 revolution, the painting was spotted by eagle-eyed Elle readers hanging in the apartment of Prince Mohammed Ali Ibrahim and Princess Hanzade when they were interviewed and photographed by the magazine in 1956.
Last shown publicly in 1965, its remained hidden from the public eye ever since. Auctioned only four times previously in 1682, 1848, 1872 and 1876.
(All images from Desa)