Are the Old Masters back in fashion? After the spectacular announcement of a Botticelli portrait auction last week, art collectors are sure to be excited by Sotheby’s latest masterpiece up for grabs — a rare Rembrandt painting.
Estimated to go for between 20 and 30 million dollars, “Abraham and the Angels” will be auctioned off in January alongside Botticelli’s portrait, during the house’s annual Masters Week sales.
This small panel (6 ¼ inches by 8 ¼ inches) painted in oil depicts a scene from the Old Testament, when Abraham learns that his wife Sarah will give birth to their son Isaac. While Rembrandt is mostly known for his self-portraits, the Dutch master painted 136 biblical canvases during his career. Only five remain in private collections, which makes the sale of “Abraham and the Angels” even more exciting.
This Rembrandt is estimated to sell for $20 million – $30 million. It could allow Sotheby’s to break a new auction record for the Old Master. The current record, a 1658 Rembrandt canvas, called “Portrait of a man, half-length, with his arms akimbo,” reached a sale price of $33.2 million (£20.2 million) in December 2009 at Christie’s.
“With the vast majority of his biblical scenes in institutional collections, it’s extremely rare to see such a major work at auction,” said George Wachter from Sotheby’s.
It’s also one of the rare Rembrandt paintings to boast of a nearly unbroken chain of ownership since 1647.
The last time “Abraham and the Angels” ended up on the auction block was in 1848. It sold for the very modest sum of £64 ($82) in London! It has also featured in several acclaimed exhibitions worldwide. Notably “Divine Encounter: Rembrandt’s Abraham and the Angels” at New York’s Frick Museum in 2017.
Before Sotheby’s Masters Week’s sale next January, “Abraham and the Angels” will be on view in the auction’s house galleries in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and London.