"Finding of Moses" Sells for Seven Times Estimate, Sets New Record
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema's 19th-century painting, "The Finding Of Moses," had a pre-sale estimate of $3 million to $5 million. At Sotheby's 19th Century European Art Sale November 4, it sold for a remarkable $35,922,500 to an undisclosed bidder. Three people raised their bids consistently during a battle for ownership of this masterpiece that lasted nearly eight minutes. Once the bidding started, it rose quickly to more than $20 million in a battle between two clients on the phone. Then a new bidder in the room raised a paddle for a $23 million bid. After several more minutes, the painting was sold to one of the the original phone bidders. The whopping price sets a new record for the artist at auction. His previous record set for this same painting was $2.8 million in 1995.
The painting depicts the pharoah's daughter carried aloft by bare-chested slaves while her handmaidens hoist the baby Moses in his basket so that his new "mother" can gaze down at him. Although not too biblically correct, it's still a meticulously painted version of an Old Testament scene. Alma-Tadema possibly became infatuated with Egyptian themes on a visit to the British Museum in 1862 where the main attraction was the newly acquired Elgin Marbles.