Published date: 7 Mar 2012
Now the smoke has cleared on 2011, what has emerged with stark clarity is that Bonhams has had a superlative year. The house celebrated its tenth anniversary since its merger with Phillips with results that hit headlines around the world. In November, for instance, Bonhams sold the most expensive lotduring the Asian Art week auctions, a Qianlong vase that made £9m. There was also a triumph in Russian week when a painting by Vasilii Polenov achieved £4.1m, again the highest earning lot to be offered at London's Russian art auctions. But perhaps the painting that really captured the imagination was Velázquez's Portrait of a Gentleman, the cover image of our last issue. This oil highlighted once more the expertise of Bonhams' specialists. Found in an attic in Kent, the Old Masters department, led by Caroline Oliphant and Andrew McKenzie, brought together a formidable array of world experts to confirm that it was a work of the Spanish master. It sold in New Bond Street for £3m. For more world-beating results, turn to page 14.
Bonhams, however, is a house that prides itself on looking forward. This season marks the launch of New York's Contemporary Art department with a May sale that features Jean-Michel Basquiat's Mad, a work all the more poignant for being painted at the end of his self-destructive life. On the other side of the globe, Hong Kong also has a sale of contemporary Chinese art, featuring the modern masters, Chu Teh-Chun and Zao Wuo-Ki, both of whom moved to Paris in the 1940s. It provides a intriguing insight into the fusion of traditional Chinese techniques with western art practices.
But then art and artifacts do bear witness to the past. One of the most moving items we have ever offered is Captain Scott's farewell letter, written in his tent only days before his death at the South Pole. If you have tears, prepare to shed them.
- Lucinda Bredin
The distinguished David Dallas has arrived at Bonhams to lead the Old Masters department. Lucinda Bredin reports
Claude Flight and the Grosvenor School wanted their art to revolutionize the world, says Matthew Sturgis. Their method was to use the humble linocut
El Anatsui takes discarded objects and through the alchemy of art turns them into powerful statements. Christopher Lord talks to the artist about his work
Bonhams is offering one of the world's most impressive diamond necklaces – and it is all the more remarkable for having survived in its original setting, says Katherine Prior. She investigates the extraordinary stories of the maharajahs and their jewels
Bonhams is offering one of Captain Scott's heartbreaking farewell letters. It raises the question of why, when fuel and food was only 11 miles away, did Scott and his men wait ten desolate days to die in a tiny tent? Richard Pierce investigates
Francesca von Habsburg, née Thyssen, has followed in her father's footsteps by collecting art. But while he bought Holbeins, she buys works made out of light bulbs. Celia Lyttelton discovers how her passion began
Chu Teh-Chun and Zao Wou-Ki moved to Paris after the Second World War. It enabled the pair to fuse Chinese techniques with western practice, says Helen Ho
Michael Pruskin, one of London's foremost antique dealers, has made his name buying only the best. Lisa Freedman looks at how he has furnished his reputation
The type of barrels that wine-makers use has become a hot topic, says Bruce Palling. And for good reason: it can make or break a vintage
Called the most beautiful city in the world by Miguel de Cervantes,
the Portuguese capital offers the visitor a cultural feast, says Syma Tariq
Actor Terence Stamp loves Chateau Marmont, where there is camaraderie on the inside – and the paparazzi are always kept out