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John Constable, The Lock, Oil on canvas, 139.7 by 122 cm.; 55 by 48 in. (est. £8-12 million), sold for £22.6 million / €31.2 million / $34 Million. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Tonight, The Lock, one of John Constable’s most famous compositions sold for £9,109,000 / €12,562,266 / $13,699,025 at Sotheby’s London, 160 years after its last appearance on the market. The monumental landscape depicting the countryside of the painter’s “careless boyhood” was the highlight of the Old Master & British Paintings Evening sale which featured a significant number of museum-quality works and totalled £22.6 million / €31.2 million / $34 Million (est. £21.8-32.6 million). 

Alex Bell, Joint International Head and Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department said: “The Lock belongs to a small group of pictures that define Constable’s oeuvre and genius. The artist’s absolute mastery as a landscape painter is everywhere in the picture and this was reflected in the result achieved tonight. The painting was one of many museum-quality works presented in the sale, an unprecedented proportion of which were from private collections and came to the market for the first time in several generations. The combination of quality and freshness to the market are key in this field and certainly account for this evening’s strong results.” 

John Constable’s The Lock 
Painted circa 1824-5 when Constable was at the height of his powers, The Lock is one of only three major works by Constable left in private hands. This iconic image is the fifth in the series of six monumental landscapes popularly known as the artist’s ‘Six-Footers’, which for many define the pinnacle of Constable’s career. Depicting a bucolic scene on the River Stour in the artist’s native Suffolk, and painted in response to the huge critical acclaim that greeted Constable's first treatment of the composition (exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1824), the picture was treasured by the artist. Retained by him in his studio until the end of his life, singled out by him for prestigious exhibitions, it was chosen as the basis for the engraving that was to make it among the most familiar and celebrated images in the canon of British art.

MARKET LEADER 
Tonight’s sale establishes Sotheby’s as 2015 market leaders in the Old Masters & British Paintings Category and confirmed the company’s long-held Leadership in the field 

• Worldwide 2015 total (as of tonight): $237,619,514 
• Sotheby’s has now led the market for 8 of the last 10 years. 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS 
Leading this group was the most significant early Netherlandish painting to come to the auction market in the 21st century: a magnificent depiction of the Madonna and Child painted by Jan Gossaert which sold for £4,629,000, an  (est. £4-6 million) 

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Jan Gossaert, called Mabuse (Maugeuge (?) circa1478 - 1532 Antwerpt(?)), The Virgin and Child, oil on oak panel, 38.9 by 26.6 cm.; 15 3/8  by 10 1/2  in. Sold for £4,629,000, auction record for the artist and for any early Netherlandish painting. Photo Sotheby's.

The left wing of a small triptych commissioned in Paris at the end of the 1440s or around 1450 by Dreux Budé sold to the Musée du Louvre, Paris for £965,000, a benchmark price for The Master of the Dreux Budé Triptych who was probably also responsible for the design and part of the execution of the Crucifixion of the Parlement of Paris in the Louvre, Paris - perhaps the most celebrated of all Parisian 15th-century panel paintings (est. £400,000-600,000). This Betrayal of Christ may well be the earliest night scene in Northern European panel painting. 

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The Master of the Dreux Budé Triptych (Active Amiens 1425/6 – Mons 1450), The left wing of the Dreux Budé Triptych: The betrayal and arrest of Christ, with the donor Dreux Budé and his son Jean presented by Saint Christopher. Indistinctly inscribed on the blade of the sword centre left: HIC ME .  This is probably the last three words of Matthew 26 verse 23: Hic Me Tradet (`he will betray me'), oil on oak panel. Panel dimensions: 48.7 by 30.5 cm.; 19 1/8  by 12 in. Approximate dimensions of painted surface: 45.5 by 28cm. 18 by 11 ins. sold to the Musée du Louvre, Paris for £965,000. Photo Sotheby's.

A depiction of a cavern in the Gulf of Salerno, near Naples by Joseph Wright of Derby surpassed expectations and achieved £665,000 (est. £100,000-150,000). The work had been donated to The United Society (Us) in order to raise funds for the relief of the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe. 

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Joseph Wright of Derby, A.R.A. (Derby 1734 – 1797), A grotto in the gulf of Salerno, with the figure of Julia, banished from Rome, oil on canvas, held in its original Wright of Derby Neo-Classical frame, 124 by 172 cm.; 48 3/4  by 67 3/4  in. Sold for £665,000. Photo Sotheby's.

An outstanding example of Govert Flinck’s tronie paintings (fancy-dress studies, based on a real likeness) of the first half of the 1640s soared above estimate and realised £485,000 (est. £200,000-300,000).  

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Govert Flinck (Kleve 1615 - 1660 Amsterdam), A tronie of a young woman, oil on oak panel, current and original size, without subsequent additions: 64.3 by 46.3 cm.;  25 1/4  by 18 1/4  in. Sold for £485,000. Photo Sotheby's.

Strong results for gold ground paintings: Tonight’s sale featured a group of four gold grounds each of which found buyers and brought a combined total of £703,500, well above estimate (combined estimate: £350,000-510,000), echoing the strong results achieved by such works at auction over the past years. (cf. a wing of a diptych depicting episodes from the lives of the Virgin Mary and other saints by Giovanni da Rimini sold for £5,682,500 at Sotheby’s London in July 2014). 

Fresh-to-the-market Museum-quality Works high in Demand 
An exceptionally large number of the works offered tonight were from private collections and came to the market for the first time in several generations. 

• 98% of the lots came from private collections 

• Almost half of the works offered had never appeared at auction 

• A quarter of the lots in the sale had been in private collections for over 100 years 

The Pulling Power of Old Masters 
• Over the course of five days (5-9 December), 6,000 people visited our London exhibition 

• This year, 46% bidders in our sales were new to the field, and 21% our buyers were completely new to Sotheby's 

• Tonight we saw a typically broad spread of bidding, with registrants from 25 countries, just as in our last sale 

• While we had participation from the new markets (Asia and Russia in particular), European buyers were out in force tonight. 

• Online participation: Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s Peasants' Brawl sold for 869,000 (est. £600,000- 800,000)  

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Pieter Brueghel the Younger (Brussels, 1564-1637/8 Antwerp), The Peasants' Brawl - La rixe des paysans, oil on oak panel, the reverse with the brand of the City of Antwerp and the maker's mark of a clover leaf for Michiel Claessins (active c. 1590–1637); 97 by 115 cm.; 38 1/4  by 45 1/4  in.. Lot sold for £869,000Photo Sotheby's.

4 Records set tonight 
• Jan Gossaert called Mabuse Lot 6 - THE VIRGIN AND CHILD Sold for £4,629,000 (est. £4,000,000-£6,000,000) Previous record £1,421,260 at Koller Auktionen AG 28 March 2014 

• Cola di Petruccioli da Orvieto Lot 11 – THE MADONNA AND CHILD ENTHRONED, FLANKED BY SAINT CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRA, SAINT VERONICA, SAINT MUSTIOLA AND SAINT LUCY Sold for £257,000 (est. £60,000-£80,000) Artist previously not offered at auction 

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Cola di Petruccioli da Orvieto (Active Orvieto 1372 - 1401 Perugia), The Madonna and Child enthroned, flanked by Saint Catherine of Alexandra, Saint Veronica, Saint Mustiola and Saint Lucy, signed lower centre: COLA DE URBIUETERI / PINXIT, tempera on poplar panel, gold ground with a shaped top, 64.3 by 32 cm.; 25 1/4 by 12 5/8 in. Sold for £257,000Photo Sotheby's.

• Alesso di Benozzo ('Maestro Esiguo') Lot 13 - MADONNA AND CHILD BEFORE A CLOTH-OF-HONOUR HELD ALOFT BY TWO ANGELS Sold for £118,750 (est. £60,000 —£80,000) Previous record: £80,293 - Christie’s Paris 2011 

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Alesso di Benozzo ('Maestro Esiguo') (Active in Florence and Pistoia at the end of the 15th century), Madonna and Child before a cloth-of-honour held aloft by two angels, tempera on panel, unframed, 33.8 by 24.6 cm.; 13 1/4  by 9 3/4  in. Sold for £118,750Photo Sotheby's.

• Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt and studio Lot 27 - PORTRAIT OF FREDERICK I, KING OF BOHEMIA (1596–1632); PORTRAIT OF ELIZABETH STUART, DAUGHTER OF JAMES I AND QUEEN OF BOHEMIA (1596–1662) Sold for £221,000 Previous record by follower of Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt - £154,242

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Michiel Jansz. van Mierevelt and studio (Delft 1567 - 1641), Portrait of Frederick I, King of Bohemia (1596–1632); Portrait of Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James I and Queen of Bohemia (1596–1662)The former inscribed on his garter: QVI.MAL.V.I. and dated lower left: ANNO. 1628The latter inscribed and dated on the curtain lower left: Anno, Dom/ M.D.C.XXVIIIa pair, both oil on canvas; each: 214.3 by 125.7 cm.; 84 3/8  by 49 1/2  in. Sold for £221,000. Photo Sotheby's.