“The value of a work exceeds the price expressed in international databases. It varies according to its rarity in the private market, its subject, and its quality of execution, which make it a testimony of an era or an artistic movement. I always approach artworks with both a passionate and critical eye, which allows me today to recognize the potential of each one and defend them at their true value on the market.”
“For the past 10 years, the market for old drawings has exploded. This specialty, once considered very confidential, has found a prominent place in Paris, where events and sales bring together eminent specialists, researchers, museum curators, and enthusiasts from all over the world. These masterpieces on paper continue to captivate us with the spontaneous artistic expression of their creators.”
— Grégoire Lacroix
The Old Paintings & Drawings Department, under the direction of Grégoire Lacroix, records some of the most significant art market sales worldwide. Old paintings and drawings represent an absolutely fascinating sector of the art market. Since the 19th century, Paris has been internationally recognized as one of the most dynamic auction venues for old paintings.
At the heart of this lies the market for old paintings and drawings, curious and eager for works with remarkable provenance. By participating in international art events such as the Semaine du Dessin in Paris, the Salon Fine Arts, major events at the Hôtel Drouot, or the Old Masters Week in Anglo-Saxon countries, the auctions of old paintings and drawings in Paris attract the attention of the greatest collectors in this specialty.
Among their buyers, there are many profiles: from amateur to collector, investor, art lover, as well as dealers, museums, and other cultural institutions; all share the desire to see and possess works that have stood the test of time. These prized objects, remarkable and noticed, always evoke widespread enthusiasm. Furthermore, museums frequently exercise their preemption rights.
Long considered the ultimate art form, painting has always been at the heart of numerous centers of active emulation, from which great names have emerged. Associated with paintings, graphic arts present their own peculiarities. Whether a drawing is a preparatory sketch or an artwork created for its own sake, it becomes a spontaneous witness to the creative impulse that brought it to life.
Creations of what is grouped under the term “Old Masters,” they find their place in Paris, internationally recognized as one of the most dynamic markets. Informed collectors and passing amateurs cross paths here, following our auctions attentively, with a keen eye for the treasures they might discover.
Since its inception, Maison Aguttes has auctioned many important works, not only from the market’s perspective but also from the perspective of Art History. Among them, a “Vierge à l’Enfant with saint Georges and an angel” by Bernardino Luini, a particularly important student of Leonardo da Vinci, was sold for 2,300,400 euros; an extraordinary tempera on panel by Venetian artists Antonio Vivarini and Giovanni d’Alemagna, representing an Annunciation, was sold for 896,800 euros, confirming the enthusiasm for old paintings.
The excitement of buyers remains undiminished when it comes to acquiring the exceptional. This is evidenced by the results of a Venetian Annunciation from the 15th century, which reached 897,000 euros at auction, or the “Christ Bon Pasteur” by the artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682), which soared to 640,600 euros. Delightfully tender and emerging from darkness, the Child accompanied by his sheep is a precious witness to the Golden Age of Spanish painting, rarely represented in France since the dispersal of the Louis-Philippe collection.
Extremely appreciated by collectors, graphic arts stand out among the most beautiful auctions of the year. A drawing by Guerchin (1591-1666) was sold for 83,200 euros. A preparatory sketch for two major altarpieces by the Bolognese painter, it revealed the talents of an artist who was known for being a prolific and virtuoso draftsman. As our department’s chronology almost extends to the borders of Academism, we also had the pleasure of rediscovering a drawing by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), lost in the sketchbook of a 20th-century amateur and sold for 35,100 euros. A witness to the artist’s interest in an Orient that fascinated him throughout his life, it also revealed the enthusiasm and wanderlust that gripped artists in the 19th century.
If women have long been overlooked in art history, they are now at the heart of a new spotlight that allows us to discover the diversity of their talents. The enthusiasm for women artists is undeniable, and our department actively participates in this phenomenon. For instance, last March, a very understated and delicate still life of a strawberry cup by Louyse Moillon (1610-1696), a painter from the 17th century, was auctioned for 1.6 million euros. On the same day, a self-portrait by Marie-Gabrielle Capet (1761-1818), a student of Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842), was acquired by the National Museum of Sweden for 55,000 euros.
Model for the painter Joseph-Siffred Duplessis (1725-1802), Marie-Antoinette, awakened nostalgia among her admirers and enthusiasm among enthusiasts. Identified within our department, this nearly lifelike portrait of the 16-year-old queen allowed us to imagine what the final version, lost nearly a century ago, looked like. Noteworthy and remarkable, the artwork was pre-empted by the Palace of Versailles (175,500 euros), where visitors and strollers can now admire it in all the freshness of its youth.
In perpetual search of new treasures to discover, study, and promote, our team of passionate specialists is at your service to welcome you and examine the works for which you seek a professional opinion. A painting or a drawing, whether signed or not, may always conceal a skilled hand. Covering a period ranging from the Renaissance to the 19th century, still attached to Academism, our department is curious about any artwork and will be delighted to meet you.
Paintings and drawings from Italian, French, and Northern schools delight art enthusiasts and collectors who discover historical and mythological subjects, as well as portraits and still lifes, encompassing a multitude of genres classified by the Royal Academy in 1667.
Our auctions of old drawings, branded “l’Esprit Créateur” (the Creative Spirit), present graphic works by great masters such as Tiepolo, Lemoyne, Greuze, Géricault, Delacroix, as well as many artists from the French, Italian, Dutch, and Flemish schools.
Good to Know: Our Old Paintings & Drawings Department organizes three auctions in Paris and three online auctions per year. Each painting and drawing is carefully examined and directed to the most appropriate sale, “Maîtres anciens” or “l’Esprit Créateur.” Our specialists actively contribute to the valorization of your works through expertise in collaboration with recognized scientists and academics. We offer the best possible sales strategy, which may include restoration or targeted promotion campaigns if necessary.
The auction house possesses a unique communication power and provides sellers with modern and targeted tools for an effective international reach. We pay special attention to the production of the sales catalog, whether in print or entirely digital format, in terms of both design and content. During our campaigns, we mobilize buyers from our portfolio in all specialties and identified potential buyers. We communicate with them through various channels: online and offline advertisements, social media, email marketing, media, influencers, and auction platforms, with tailored and high-quality materials: images, text, and videos.
Graceful and confidential
Subscribe to receive our magazine as well as the calendar of sales, exhibitions and conferences…
Only two communications per month in your mailbox.
More than 14 specialized departments
Large and agile organization for the management of "top lots" and particular collections
More than 60% of buyers are foreign
More than 150 lots sold at more than 100 000€ in 2022
4 annual auctions by specialty