Public get glimpse of masterpieces before London auctions

13th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Rarely-seen masterpieces by artists from Michelangelo to Mueck were put on display at Christie's auction house in London on Monday, in a brief public show before they are sold off.

For just three days, art-lovers will be able to view a selection of some of the paintings, sculptures, manuscripts and furniture that will be sold this summer for a total of more than £250 million ($400 million, 280 million euros).

Among the treasures is a male nude study, one of 24 made for Michelangelo's "The Battle of Cascina", which has only been seen in public once before. It is expected to fetch £3-£5 million at the Old Masters sale on July 5.

"Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath, with a Trainer, A Stable-Lad, and a Jockey" by George Stubbs will also be sold that day for an estimated £20 million, and is another of the about 100 works being shown until Wednesday at Christie's.

"It's not a sale viewing, it's very much an exhibition aimed at the collective public. This show is about contrasts, but it's also about quality," said Jussi Pylkkanen, chairman of Christie's Europe, Middle East, Russia and India.

Also included is "Nympheas", from Claude Monet's celebrated water-lily series which is expected to sell for more than £17 million, and "Jeune fille endormie", a painting by Pablo Picasso expected to fetch up £9-£12 million.

Meanwhile a painting by Thomas Gainsborough, "Portrait of Miss Read, later Mrs William Villebois", is expected to set a new record price for the artist with its estimate of £4 million-£6 million.

It is not just old masters that are on show -- "Big Baby", a sculpture by Ron Mueck from 1996, is being offered for auction for £800,000-£1,200,000.

© 2011 AFP

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