Haussmann's controversial Bach portrait doubles estimate in Philadelphia

A controversial portrait of composer Johann Sebastian Bach has doubled its $50,000 high estimate at an old master paintings auction in the US, suggesting that market confidence in its authenticity is strong.

Debate has raged as to whether it was painted by the German Elias Gottlob Haussmann (1695-1744) from life, or whether it was a later work.

Bach Haussmann painting
One of 12 potential Haussmann portraits of Bach

It is one of 12 Bach portraits linked with Haussmann, who is known primarily because of his Bach connection.

The most famous resides at the Altes Rathaus in Leipzig, Germany, yet all 12 have been subject to much discussion as to their creator and time period.

"Is this a contemporaneous portrait, painted of the composer from life, as abundant scholarship, scientific evidence, even a book suggest? The market has spoken. The smart money is betting it is," the auction house said following the sale.

Domenico Feti
Feti’s attributed work made $86,500

A first edition of Bach's Six Partitas for Keyboard will auction this afternoon at Sotheby's, with a $194,000 high estimate.

The current record for a Bach manuscript stands at £337,250 ($540,600), achieved by one of his late cantatas at Christie's in June.

The October 11 auction in Philadelphia also featured the $86,500 sale of David With The Head Of Goliath, attributed to Domenico Feti (1589-1624). It had come to auction with a $60,000 high valuation.

The auction house has noted a discernible change in market demographics of late, stating that collectors and dealers from around the world are "increasingly turning their attention to the under-picked regions of America, where unique pieces of world-class quality and uniqueness can be still found that have eluded the market for generations." Read more about the investment potential of the art world here.

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