Pieter Brueghel's Antwerp Spring auctions with 154% increase

Pieter Brueghel the Younger's circa 1630 drawing Antwerp Spring has sold for $2.3m as part of Sotheby's New York auction of old master paintings.

 The sale price represents a strong 154% increase on the picture's $900,000 top estimate.

Peter Brueghel the Younger auction
Antwerp Spring: a great deal about life in the middle ages can be learnt from Peter Brueghel the Younger's work

Though several versions of this subject by Brueghel II are recorded, the present, previously unpublished example is considered the finest to come to market in recent years.

As with the vast majority of Brueghel II's works, the original composition was conceived by his father, Pieter Brueghel I, and now resides in the Albertina gallery in Vienna.

Brueghel II's The Whitsun Bride also put in a good performance on June 6, making $845,000.                  

Unlike those works whose origins lie with the painter's father, The Whitsun Bride represents a rare, original Brueghel II composition.

The Flemish celebration of Whitsuntide, which took place a week after Pentecost, provides rich subject matter for the painter, whose works are often "read" as containing evidence of medieval peasant life. The Whitsun Bride and her young attendants are paraded through the town as the gathered crowd shower them with gifts and garland them with flowers.

old masters auction
The Drunkard Pushed into the Pigsty sold with a 12% increase on its top estimate on June 6

Christie's recent old master sale also saw works by Breughel the Younger bring strong results. The Drunkard Pushed into the Pigsty - an amusing roundel based on a popular Flemish proverb warning against drunkenness - sold for $783,750 on June 6.

Estimated at $700,000, the comic tableau sold with a 12% increase.

According to the Mei Moses Index, the old masters sector is booming. In December 2012, Raphael's sketch Head of an Apostle set a new record for an old master drawing at auction, bringing £29.7m ($47.8m) to Sotheby's.

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