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Kunsthaus Lempertz - The Ancient Auction House

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Kunsthaus Lempertz Auction HouseWe may hear of a numerous Auction Houses at the modern market of antiques and each one has its magnificent history background, its own peculiarities. For example, Kunsthaus Lempertz Auction House situated in Cologne is one of the ancient representatives of family auction business in the world and the most ancient House in Germany.

Antique trade was in the time of blooming in the middle of XIX century. And this is the exact time related to the history of many European Auction Houses. Kunsthaus Lempertz Auction House is not an exception, it was founded in 1845. That year Matthias Lempertz held a book auction in Bonn that was the start of the company. Primarily Kunsthaus Lempertz specialized in books and graphics. And by time antique staff of decorative and applied arts became a frequent guest at the auction, as well as picturesque and vivid works of famous artists of the past.

The management by the Company was assigned to Peter Hanstein in thirty years, and it was Peter who step-by-step shifted the office of the young Auction House from Bonn to Cologne.  The good standing of the Company proved to be reliable and even entire collections were exhibited at the auctions. By the end of the century Kunsthaus Lempertz was acknowledged as the main Auction House in Germany.

The specialty of this Auction House was always a successful combination of adherence to traditions and interest to all new. And Kunsthaus Lempertz is likely to become a pioneer and guide of Deutsch and European antique business - and exactly in this place first  auctions of Asian works were conducted in Europe in 1908 , and in 1958 the items of modern art were displayed to the auction. The things of a relatively young artistic practice, that is photos, were first displayed in Germany at separate auctions at the Kunsthaus Lempertz Auction in 1989.

Besides, Kunsthaus Lempertz is the only Auction House in Germany that holds auctions with abroad. In 1985 in Brussels Kunsthaus Lempertz Company opened a branch that ensures preparation and organisation of auctions and deals in provisional applications to take part in auctions in Cologne. And the auctions of African art and art works of ocean nations are done since 1992.

Representation offices of Kunsthaus Lempertz may be found both in Germany and abroad. In the native land the Auction House is presented in Berlin, Frankfort on the Main and in Munich. The first overseas office of the Company was opened in New York in 1965. At present Kunsthaus Lempertz has representatives in Paris, Zürich, New York, Tokyo and Shanghai. The auction membership at the International Auctioneers, the group uniting eight large Auction Houses in Europe, allows active promotion of the art and antique things to the international market.

Kunsthaus Lempertz Auction House holds about 14 auctions a year divided into two "sessions» - a spring (from May till June) and autumn (from November till December). Period pieces, things of decorative and applied arts, of modern art, photographs and works of Eastern Asia art are displayed at the auction, and in spring a special auction is held dedicated to the art of tribal nations. Six departments of Kunsthaus Lempertz each publishes the catalogue with color illustrations twice a year about three weeks to the auction start date.

Apart from it, Kunsthaus Lempertz twice a year holds specialized auctions of antique books and printed matter. These auctions are held under supervision of Venator & Hanstein Company, a partner to Kunsthaus Lempertz since 1984. and it was then when the office of the small Auction House Venator KG, specialized at selling of antique books and published matters, moved to Kunsthaus Lempertz building in Neumarkt street, and changed the name for Venator & Hanstein.

The building of Kunsthaus Lempertz Auction House should be mentioned specially. The house is styled as classicism acquired by the Company in 1918, in 25 years was bombed and ruined during the World War II and spared the fate of the majority of buildings in the center of Cologne. However, in the shortest time after the end of the war the Company revives its activity and, proven to be the main Auction House in Germany, builds the premises by 1952 in Neumarkt street. In the middle 50s of XX century the museums Wallraf-Richartz-Museum and The Roman-Germanic Museum held exhibitions and in 1965 the Company opens its exhibition halls Gallery Lempertz Contempora, where modern art items are displayed as well. The building of Kunsthaus Lempertz Auction House was ranked among the historically structures and entered into the appropriate register.

In spite of small number of auctions, as compared with other European Houses, Kunsthaus Lempertz sets world pricing records. For example, on December 4, 2004 at the auctions of modern art the work of the famous German artist Kurt Switters «Relief with yellow square» (oil, plastic, wood, 1928), displayed with the estimate cost from 800 thousand to 1 million Euro was sold for 1 million and 460 thousand Euros.

However, the activity of Kunsthaus Lempertz House is not restricted in selling of antique staff. The Auction House fully enables to make art works accessible to open public of national value.  That is why Kunsthaus Lempertz Auction House often acts as a mediator between private collectors and German museums. Thanks to this activity, The Archbishopric Museum of the Diocese of Cologne acquired the rarest Roman crucification in elephant ivory, and German National Museum Nuremberg has an opportunity to purchase two famous tapestry and valuable Gothic ciborium with pictures in religious themes in half-translucent enamel.

To participate at Kunsthaus Lempertz Auction, it is not a must to arrive to Cologne. The application to buy this or that lot may be faxed, e-mailed or posted, the application form is proposed at the first pages of the catalogue. Application for appraisal may be posted, the form may be completed at the Internet site www.lempertz.com, e-mailed to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or phoned at: +49 (221) 925 7290, fax: +49 (221) 925 7296. Though default participation at the auction is hardly compared with personal participation at the Auction of the most ancient Old Houses of Germany.

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