Rubens’ Portrait of a Man as the God Mars

Sir Peter Paul Rubens’ c.1620 Portrait of a Man as the God Mars, estimated at $20-30m at Sotheby's New York in May.

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The c.1620 painting has been unveiled in Brussels by the auction house, two centuries after it was last seen in the country. It was once the most expensive Rubens work ever sold at auction after it fetched $8.2m at Sotheby’s New York in 2000 and was last on the market in 2002.

This time Sotheby’s is offering the picture at its Modern art evening sale in New York in May with an estimate of $20m-30m.

Julian Dawes, Sotheby’s head of Impressionist and Modern art for the Americas, said: Presenting Rubens’ Portrait of Mars as a highlight of our Modern Evening Auction – the first time the artist has ever been included in a sale of this kind – is a reflection not only of his enduring importance as an artist, but also of what a radical innovator Rubens was for his time.

“This magnificent portrait speaks to every kind of taste and sits perfectly in dialogue with works from later periods, where a new audience of collectors will not fail to recognise the enduring modernity of Rubens.”

The painting is being sold from the Fisch Davidson Collection. It was one of the works amassed by Mark Fisch and Rachel Davidson who are divorcing. The couple also consigned 10 Baroque paintings to Sotheby’s including Rubens’ The Head of Saint John the Baptist Presented to Salome which sold at $23.5m (£19.1m) at a sale on January 26 (as reported in ATG no 2578).