Auctionet: Facing Facts – Swedish Portrait makes Auction record in UK

In the fall of 2023, Swedish art dealer Claes Moser sold his collection of paintings by the artist J.A.G. Acke (1859-1925) at Stockholms Auktionsverk. The auction featured several significant works by the artist and the sale, with several remarkable resultss, made headlines. Moser had devoted over half a century to studying Acke’s work and acquiring paintings by him. Moser had even acquired Acke’s residence, Villa Akleja, a sunny summer paradise (but used by Acke as a winter residence) that had been built at the turn of the last century.

The Swedish art historian Karl Asplund noted rather charmingly that Acke’s artistic oeuvre was characterized by a “fresh changing wind.” A testament to this innovative approach was when the renowned Musée D’Orsay in Paris acquired Acke’s painting “By the Water Mirror” in 2000. Acke’s relevance in the contemporary art market was confirmed when the painting “Östrasalt” was sold for the equivalent of £99,780 at the sale of Moser’s collection.

So there was a certain expectation when it became clear that Lawrences Auctioneers in Crewkerne included J.A.G. Acke’s well-painted portrait of Ellen West at their Fine Art Sale in April. The painting was executed in 1909 and portrays a woman who looks straight at the viewer with a nonchalant attitude and an inscrutable smile. The smoke from her cigarette slightly obscures the subject and gives the artist the opportunity to excel in the art of invigorating a female sitter captured in oil on canvas. This was an insight that had been mastered fully by Acke: in the window, there are a couple of wine glasses that, against a warm summer light, further enhance the lighthearted tone pursued by the artist but perhaps also by the subject. The portrait also garnered great interest and, after eagerly competitive bidding, it was bought for £10,000. This is a sum that sets an auction record for the work of this intriguing artist in the United Kingdom.

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