As chance would have it, two of them turned up for auction on the same day. The first was recently discovered in one of the eight attics in Weston Hall, the second came from a private British collection and was offered by Roseberys in London.
The Weston Hall Large Group of Punchinelli, executed in pen, ink and wash, measured 9 x 15in (24 x 38cm) and had once belonged to the collection of Henry Oppenheimer. The Anglo-American banker amassed an unrivalled collection of old master drawings, with a particular focus on Italian artists.
In 1936, four years after Oppenheimer’s death, his collection came up for sale at Christie’s in London. There, Osbert Sitwell purchased the Tiepolo drawing which then became part of Weston Hall’s inventory. It had long been forgotten and was eventually discovered during the preparation of the sale. It was now guided at £150,000-200,000.
On auction day at Dreweatts (25% buyer’s premium), the buyer secured the drawing with a hammer price of £100,000.
Gnocchi but nice
In contrast, Roseberys (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) had not aimed so high when it offered the 8 x 9in (20 x 23cm) black chalk, pen and brown ink and wash motif Three Punchinelli Gathered around a Gnocchi Pot for £20,000-30,000.
It was also executed in the 1730s and its provenance could be traced back the collection of François Gabriel Théodore Basset de Jolimont, Paris (1787-1854). The work was last sold at auction by Sotheby’s in London in 1974, where the current consignor purchased it. Bidders from several quarters now pushed the price to a hammer price of £80,000 with a UKbased phone bidder emerging victorious.