One of the last great masterpieces remaining in private hands by renowned Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli will star in Sotheby’s annual Masters Week sales series in New York in January 2022 with an estimate in excess of $40 million. Asian Buyers Are Expected To Pay Particular Attention To This Auction After An Exhibition In Hong Kong.
Executed in the late 15th/early 16th century, The Man of Sorrows is a masterful late period work by the artist, when Botticelli was greatly influenced by the fanatical Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola and adopted a style characterized by Christian symbolism and visionary spirituality. The portrait of the resurrected Christ reveals an important coda to Botticelli’s well-known earlier career, while also encapsulating the artist’s singular style with a stunningly modern and human portrayal of Christ.
The Man of Sorrow comes to auction following Sotheby’s record-breaking sale of Botticelli’s Young Man Holding a Roundel in January 2021, which realized $92.2 million — making it one of the most valuable portraits of any era ever sold, one of the most valuable Old Master Paintings ever sold at auction, and the most valuable work ever sold in an Old Masters auction. Despite the landmark sale earlier this year, works by Botticelli – from any period – remain exceedingly rare at auction. His late works, in particular, very seldom appear on the market, with only three other works from this period (post 1492) known to be in private hands.
George Wachter, Sotheby’s Chairman and Co-Worldwide Head of Old Master Paintings, commented: “To bring to auction a work by Botticelli of this quality is a major event in the world of Old Masters–but to do so a year after the landmark sale of Botticelli’s Young Man Holding a Roundelis a once-in-a-generation phenomenon. This extraordinary painting is a prime example of what makes Botticelli such a captivating artist: a bold visual style coupled with a singularly human approach to portraiture. In taking what is a rather difficult and somber subject matter of Christ following his persecution, Botticelli creates a deeply complex and moving portrait that is truly timeless.”
Christopher Apostle, Sotheby’s Head of Old Master Paintings in New York, said: “During the final decade of his life, Botticelli’s output was markedly different from his earlier career, which is often characterized as the epitome of Renaissance ideals of humanism and beauty. The Man of Sorrows is a remarkably realistic portrayal of Christ symbolizing his suffering and death, but with an astounding degree of humanity that is the hallmark of Botticelli’s portraiture, and showcases Christ’s divinity with a stunning psychological depth. The painting spotlights Botticelli’s intense spirituality that greatly influenced his later period work and life, and presents a unique insight into Botticelli the man and Botticelli the artist.”
The Man of Sorrows will be unveiled in a public exhibition in Hong Kong from 7 – 11 October, where interest in the artist has reached an all-time high at Sotheby’s and the wider arts scene: Botticelli’s record-breaking Young Man Holding a Roundel was underbid by an Asian collector; and last year, an exhibition of the artist’s work at the Hong Kong Museum of Art received wide acclaim (Botticelli and His Times – Masterworks from the Uffizi, opened from October 23 until February 2021).
Following the exhibition in Hong Kong, The Man of Sorrows will embark on a global tour to Los Angeles, London, and Dubai before returning to New York for a pre-sale exhibition in January.