Rubens in Today’s Art Market: Priceless vs. Over-Priced

Posted: 05/06/2021 by vequinox in Literature



On the 30th of May 1640, Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens died in Antwerp (now Belgium). Known for his history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects, one of his more recently discovered works, The Massacre of the Innocents (1611–12, oil on panel, 142 × 182 cm, Thomson Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario) powerfully captures the drama and dynamism of the biblical genocide of the Bethlehem Innocents, as related in the Gospel of Matthew.

The panel caused a major stir in the art market on the 10th of July 2002, when it sold for £49.5 million (US$76.2 million) to Canadian businessman and art collector Kenneth Thomson, 2nd Baron Thomson of Fleet, at a Sotheby’s auction in London. This painting was unlikely to ever set such a record: at the end of 2013 it was still the highest auction price for an Old Master painting ever reached in…

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