ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – Sotheby’s annual spring auction of Swiss art underscored the growing interest in Alfred Anker, portraitist par excellence, with his 1885 “Mädchenbildnis” going for just under CHF1.5 million and a second painting, “Schlafendes Mädchen auf einer Holzbank”, going for CHF1.2m.
Both prices were in the middle of their estimated pre-sale price range.
The third most expensive painting was also an Anker one, “Stillleben: Heringe”, from 1899.
But the total sales for the auction were well below expectations, and swissinfo, in an analysis of the Swiss art market, notes that “the quality of the works cannot be disputed, which indicates that the estimated prices no longer reflect the reality of the market.”
Four other artists’ work went for prices above their estimates: Ferdinand Hodler, Raphy Dallèves, Alexandre Calame, Cuno Amiet.
Others, by well-known names such as Giovanni Giacometti and even an Anker, were not sold.
Sotheby’s says of Anker’s young girl, painted in oil, that the portrait is a fine example of the work of the artist, who trained as a theologian and who “held onto his humanism and the idea, superbly illustrated here, of ties between the face and the soul of a subject.”
One of the artists whose work is drawing growing interest is from the Saviese school, “Jeunes Valaisannes au parc aux chèvres”, by Raphy Dallèves (1878-1940), sold for CHF266,500.
The goats he painted, black and white, are still a Valais region specialty, with herds often seen in summer Alpine pastures.