Never offered at auction before, Le Opere, Campiña Romana by Ramón Tusquets y Maignon (1838-1904) was a dramatically lit depiction of workers toiling in the Italian countryside and was painted on a grand scale.
The auction house’s head of department Charles O’Brien said: “Tusquets knew his subject well. He captures the landscape and the light of the Roman campagna beautifully and imbues his depiction of workers toiling on the land with great dignity, even nobility. Entirely fresh to the market, Le Opere, Campiña Romana can lay claim to be the artist’s masterpiece.”
The 4ft 3in x 8ft 6in (1.3 x 2.59m) signed oil on canvas from 1871 had been originally exhibited at the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in Madrid where it received high acclaim. It was then bought by the art collector Eduardo de Carandolet Donado y Castaños (1820-82) who hung it alongside a select group of works by the great Spanish masters in his Palacio on Madrid’s Calle de Alcalá.
The painting was subsequently owned by the Spanish banker and businessman Gustavo Baüer (1865-1916) but was later acquired in Brazil at the turn of the 20th century by businessman Domingos Demarchi, the great-grandfather of Bonhams’ vendor.
Such a major work was always likely to set a new benchmark for the artist and the £120,000 low estimate at the auction on March 30 was more than double the previous high for the artist (source: Artprice). After a number of parties turned out to compete on the day, it sold at £170,000 – raising the bar for Tusquets as expected.
Also sparking a bidding battle at Bonhams was a work by Polish painter Sigismund Ajdukiewicz (1861-1917).
The artist who studied at the Academy of Vienna and the Munich Academy is associated with the Munich School of naturalism, and this 21in x 2ft 9in (54 x 84cm) signed oil on canvas titled Home from the hunt had a typical subject, although the sense of movement and atmosphere gave it extra appeal.
Consigned from a British source, it was estimated at £7000-10,000 but was eventually bid to £32,000 – seemingly the highest price for the artist at an auction in the UK.