New world auction record set for work by Constantino Brumidi

BOSTON, Mass. – Constantino Brumidi’s study for “The Apotheosis of Washington” set the world record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by the artist during Skinner, Inc.’s March 4 auction of American furniture and decorative arts. The sale grossed $2,167,559, including buyer’s premium.

Apotheosis study by Constantino Brumidi  Constantino Brumidi (Italian/American, 1805-1880) Study for The Apotheosis of Washington in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol Building. Unsigned oil on canvas, diameter 35 1/4 inches, in a molded giltwood frame. Condition: Relined, restretched, scattered retouch. Originally purchased at auction in 1919 for $300. Sold for $539,500. Photo courtesy Skinner, Inc.

The Brumidi study was sold to the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum for $539,500, exceeding its estimated high of $350,000. The fresco, for which this painting is the final study, is found on the ceiling of the rotunda of the United States Capitol Building and is considered to be the Italian-born Brumidi’s masterpiece.

Brumidi’s career included other notable achievements such as the restoration of the 16th century frescoes in the Vatican’s Third Loggia. While his frescoes decorate many meeting rooms and hallways of the Capitol, The Apotheosis of Washington remains his crowning achievement. It is widely considered to be the most important fresco in America.

The previous record for a work by Constantino Brumidi was $21,000, for a portrait of George Washington. “Prior to the sale, we had great interest in the painting from all the right quarters,” said Chris Barber, Deputy Director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts. “We’re very excited that it is now in the hands of such a venerable institution in its city of origin. Of course we’re also delighted that it will eventually be put on public view – it deserves to be seen by all.”

For more information on upcoming auctions and events, visit Skinner’s website.

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