An auction of classic Norwegian art in Oslo this week drew bids that quadrupled some assessed values, and resulted in a new “world record” price for a 173-year-old painting by Hans Fredrik Gude. Auctioneering firm Blomqvist described the bidding as nothing less than “fantastic.”
The auction, which had to be held digitally because of Corona virus restrictions, was called “Winter Highlights” and it certainly fetched high prices. Gude’s Norwegian Landscape from 1848 had already grabbed attention: Since the painting had always been in private ownership, it was described as an “unknown” art treasure and expected to attract interest.
Blomqvist had valued it at somewhere between NOK 1 million and NOK 1.5 million and the bidding started at NOK 800,000. After several minutes of lively bidding, it ended up being sold for family members who had inherited it for NOK 4.1 milllion (nearly USD 500,000) plus taxes and fees.
“It was fantastic,” said Blomqvist spokeswoman Andrea Forsberg. The buyer was not initially revealed but auctioneer Elisabeth Vik Forsberg was able to hammer in the highest price ever paid for a painting by Gude, who often painted with his contemporary artist at the time, Adolph Tidemand. Their iconic Bridal Procession in Hardanger, also from 1848, features a similar fjord and mountain landscape and has been in the National Museum’s permanent collection for years.
Another smaller seascape by Hans Fredrik Gude, Kystparti from 1855, also sold over its assessed value of NOK 180,000-220,000. Its “hammer price” ended at NOK 240,0oo.
Auctioneer Forsberg also hammered in a record price for a painting by Johs. Rian, Hotel Negresco from 1962, which sold for NOK 890,000. Rian’s two other paintings sold as well. Bidding for Bård Breivik’s scuplture Dancing Tube began at NOK 350,000 and ended 17 minutes later when it sold for NOK 2.6 million.
Other classic works on the block included a version of Theodor Kittelsen’s Andersnatten from 1903, which was valued at around NOK 800,000 and sold for NOK 980,000. Christian Krohg’s Socialist from 1888 was valued at NOK 100,000-NOK 150,000 and sold for NOK 420,000.
Eleven of the 59 works of art at the auction sold for more than double their assessed valuations. Blomqvist claimed that the bidding and prices attained reminded the firm of the Norwegian art market’s “golden age” in the 1980s. The firm reported that 73 percent of all art on the block was sold for a total of NOK 17.7 million.