On the Work of Hubert Roestenburg
Hubert Roestenburg paintings are not sold through any gallery and hardly, if ever, come up for auction. Any indication of their value must be obtained through media reports and the assessments of various art critics, among them Piet J. van de Akker as well as renowned art critic and art appraiser Prof. Wolfgang Längsfeld. The latter made a value assessment back in the mid-nineties where he put Hubert Roestenburg’s paintings in the range of 2.5 to 4.5 million German marks, with the prediction that a sharp rise in prices would occur in the coming decades. When we look at prices fetched by artists that Hubert Roestenburg is most often compared to, such as Marc Chagall and Wassily Kandinsky, these predictions seem to come through. Not only have we seen a sharp rise in prices of work by Chagall and Kandinsky, but the entire field of German expressionist painters has seen a discernible rise in prices.
Expressionism emerged in Germany before the First World War in two principal groups, The Bridge (Die Brücke) in Dresden and The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter) in Munich. Die Brücke (The Bridge) was formed by Fritz Bleyl, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and Otto Mueller joined later. Kandinsky first helped found the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (Munich New Artists’ Association). A few years later he left that group to form The Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter). Public interest in the works of these artist has grown exponentially in the last 50 years.
Recent auction results* for German Expressionist paintings
During an auction in 2015 an Ernst Ludwig Kirchner painting (Im See badende Mädchen, Moritzburg, 1907. Oil on canvas. 91.2 x 120 cm) sold for USD 13,605,000. The Ernst Ludwig Kirchner painting Erna am Meer, Fehmarn (1913. Oil on canvas. 78.5 × 68.7 cm) was sold in February of 2016 by Christie’s London for USD 6,887,774. Another Ernst Ludwig Kirchner painting (Bahnhof Königstein, 1916. Oil on canvas. 90.5 x 80 cm), was sold by Christie’s London for USD 3,503,246 during the same auction. A small Wassily Kandinsky painting (Murnau – Strasse 1908, 33 x 41 cm) fetched USD 2,052,734, while several other Kandinsky paintings have recently sold for prices in the 20 million US dollar range. Marc Chagall’s Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel (1928, 88.9 x 116.6 cm.) sold recently for USD 10,111,134.
Post-war German Expressionists to which Hubert Roestenburg belongs, as well as, according to most, Oskar Kokoschka, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Otto Dix and Lucien Freud can fetch remarkably high prices too. An Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) painting called: Hermann Schwarzwald II ((oil on canvas 79.1 x 63 cm.) sold in 2011 for USD 2,944,200. An Otto Dix (1891-1969) painting called: Schwangeres Weib (oil on canvas 135.2 x 72.3 cm.) sold in 2016 for USD 3,986,750. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff’s paintings are now selling for millions of dollars. A painting by Lucien Freud, an old friend of Hubert Roestenburg, recently sold for $56.2 million at Christie’s in Manhattan. Art-sales data analysts Art Market Research say prices for German Expressionists have risen by 190 per cent in the past seven years.
*Most price and auction information obtained from Sotheby’s and Christie’s websites.
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