Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin's (1699-1779) The Embroiderer proved the greatest attraction for art collectors in New York yesterday (January 30), as it sold as top lot in Christie's Old Master Paintings Part I.
The work, which is one of four known originals based around the same composition, sold for $4m, comfortably meeting its $3m-5m valuation. Together with The Young Draftsman, which was intended to accompany The Embroiderer, it is one of Chardin's most popular compositions and is among his finest genre scenes.
Just one pair of the compositions remains together today and is currently housed in the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm. That pair was commissioned by Antoine de la Roque and is the same that Chardin exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1738.
A further two versions of The Embroiderer and three of The Draftsman belonged to Henry de Rothschild, but are believed to have been destroyed during the bombing of his house during the second world war.
The second highest price in the sale was $3.4m, achieved by Giovanni Paolo Panini's View of the Campidoglio, Rome. Created in 1750, the oil is a typically fine example of Panini's work, which also saw strong results at Christie's Old Masters and British Paintings sale in October 2012.
The piece was originally supplied to William Holbech, after which it was hung in Warwickshire's Farnborough Hall and passed down through his family.
The second part of the Old Master Paintings sale at Christie's will be held later today (January 31) in New York, and is expected to be led by Abraham Bloemaert's rediscovered Two Boys Singing. Visit our Art & Photography news section for the results.