Louvre spends millions on Messerschmidt bust

28th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

NEW YORK, Jan 27 (AFP) - The Louvre Museum of Paris on Thursday paid a record-breaking USD 4.8 million (EUR 3.7 million) for a bust of a grimacing man by 18th century sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, art auction house Sotheby's said.

NEW YORK, Jan 27 (AFP) - The Louvre Museum of Paris on Thursday paid a record-breaking USD 4.8 million (EUR 3.7 million) for a bust of a grimacing man by 18th century sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, art auction house Sotheby's said.

Executed in the 1770s, the bust represents the highly independent style of the Austrian Messerschmidt, who broke from the conformism of court artists during the 1770s to pursue his own vision.

The piece was one of a series of 69 grimacing and giggling visages Messerschmidt left behind when he died in 1783. None of the works has appeared at auction for two decades, according to Sothebys.

At USD 4,832,000 (EUR 3,7070,184) it was the most ever paid for any 18th century sculpture. The estimated value was between USD 300,000 and 500,000 (EUR 230,000 to 652,000).

The record was one of several racked up by auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's in New York this week during their "Old Master" sales.

A Canaletto, "Bacino di San Marco," was sold at Christie's Wednesday auction for more than USD 5.2 million (EUR 3.9 million) to a US collector.

Another artist record was set for Filippino Lippi, whose "The Penitent Mary Magdalene Adoring the True Cross" went for USD 2.25 million (EUR 1.7 million), also to a US buyer.

Nicholas Hall, international director of Christie's, called the auction house's Wednesday sale a "vote of confidence for Old Master paintings."

European buying was very strong at the auctions, Hall said. Aside from the Messerschmidt bust, the Louvre also acquired the painting "Venus, Mercury and Cupid" by Nicolas Chaperon (1612-1656), for USD 192,000 (EUR 147,000).

© AFP

Subject: French News

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