Auctioneering is, of course, a business. But sometimes, in among the commercial considerations, it is right simply to stand back and admire the artistry, imagination and craftsmanship which go into creating a great work. This edition of Bonhams Art Review focuses on a few key items sold over the past six months and examines what makes them exceptional.
Our cover lot, for example, is a compelling image of Saint Peter attributed to El Greco. It shows not only a masterly command of the paint but also, in its naturalistic and three dimensional rendering of the figure, the painter capturing the saint's essential humanity. It is equally easy to admire the exquisite beauty of the 18th century Meissen Half-Figure Service, part of the celebrated Marouf Collection, which sold for over £500,000 at the end of the year. The breathtaking levels of skill and delicacy on show in these pieces makes them very rare, but they also command great respect for the virtuosity of master craftsmen at the height of their powers.
Elsewhere we find Samuel John Peploe in the 1920 work, 'Still life of mixed roses in Chinese vase', at a crucial point in his artistic life revelling in the exploration of colour and form which has made his work among the most sought after of all Scottish and, indeed, British painters.
All these works and the others illustrated throughout this Review have considerable financial value but they are objects of great aesthetic value too. I hope you enjoy reading about them.