An insight into some of the world’s greatest treasures. From Islamic Art to a fabulous collection of Venetian glass, images from the dawn of photography and exquisite pocket watches. We will also be introduced to England's foremost collector of Old Masters and a vacuum cleaner salesman who ended up with 2,500 works by Modern British artists.
Lost letters by the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi mean scholars will have to re-write history. At Christie’s in New York, Picasso’s muse comes to auction and may fetch fifty million dollars…and there’s an opportunity to acquire the perfect sculpture by Constantin Brancusi.
In the year that we mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, a rare painting by Christopher Nevinson comes to Sotheby’s showing the horrors of ‘the war to end all wars.’ Elsewhere, bidders scramble to acquire the last painting by Winston Churchill – of his beloved goldfish pool at Chartwell.
Will it become the most expensive painting ever to be sold at auction? Sent for sale at Christie’s in New York by a Russian billionaire, Leonard da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is one of only a handful of the master’s work in private hands. It once belonged to Charles II but was later discredited. In 1958, it changed hands for £45!
What is a family of four woolly mammoths doing in Sussex? They’ve been put up for sale after being brought out of Russia. Discovered beneath a building site, they are remarkably intact – but you’ll need a large room to house them. Elsewhere in this programme, New York sees the sale of the best of American Art, including works by Jasper Johns who made the American flag a theme of his career.
She was a style-icon in the second half of the twentieth century. Audrey Hepburn captivated hearts and minds. 25 years after her death, some of Ms Hepburn’s possessions come up for sale at Christie’s – and the public interest is intense.
His is the biggest name in Old Masters. Joseph Mallord William Turner was born and died by the Thames but, in between, Turner was an art tourist. Some of his greatest works portray foreign scenes - including Rome, and a giant canvas of the fabled rock of Ehrenbreitstein in Germany. Now, it comes to Sotheby’s whose experts have been using modern technology to tell the story behind it.
Sotheby’s have had a bright idea: a sale of small pictures called ‘Actual Size.’ But the prices don’t match the pictures. Among the works on sale is an exquisite Old Master by a pioneer of the still-life and a portrayal of strawberries by Lucien Freud.
Did you know that the architect Le Corbusier was also an artist? One of his works is up for auction at Bonham’s. And, in a typical day in the life of a major London auction house, there are also Old Masters and Modern British and Irish paintings on offer.
Married to Laurence Olivier, the actress Vivien Leigh had star quality. Sotheby’s are hoping her name will attract bidders to a two-day sale of her possessions. And they aren’t disappointed.