On Saturday January 19, 2018, the original painting for Isperia, Supreme Judge by Lucas Graciano from the Azorius Guild Kit was sold on the MTG Art Market for $2,750.

The Facts

Isperia, Supreme Judge by Lucas Graciano is a large work of oil on Masonite measuring a monumental 18” by 24”. The work was commissioned as the art of the signature legend of the Ravnica Allegiance Azorius Guild Kit. It sold for a final hammer price of $2,750 after a late bidding exchange.

The painting was sold via four day auction directly by the artist on the MTG Art Market Facebook group, and was the only painting by Graciano auctioned for this set. He has four other cards in Ravnica Allegiance: Arrester’s Admonition, Clear the Stage, Rakdos Roustabout, and Senate Griffin. The original paintings for the first two have been marked sold at a price of $1,500 each.

The Hammer

The opening ask for Isperia was a very reasonable $1,000 immediately after the auction opened. As often happens, a flurry of early bids hit the comments and by the end of the first day the painting was at a high bid of $2,000. But similar to Ryan Pancoast’s Nikya of the Old Ways, the bidding stalled, and no further bids were received until the morning of the final day. Two public bidders and one private fought for the piece in both $50 and $100 bid increments until it reached $2,750. The winning bidder was bidding by private message and is unknown at this time

Pencil Sketch for Isperia, Supreme Judge by Lucas Graciano. Digital.

The price realized for this painting is no small amount, and being auctioned in the largest concentration of Magic art collectors should certainly be a gauge on the current market value of the piece. But I can’t help but think this sold for less than it should have. Perhaps the Azorius are in the same popularity sphere as the Gruul, or maybe those Azorius fans had already spent their painting budget on one of the previously sold Lavinia Azorius Renegade(s) or Matt Stewart’s Unbreakable Formation? My estimate on this large, beautifully painted, and lore-important Azorius legend would have been a bit higher, but such is the current state of the market.

Color Study for Isperia, Supreme Judge by Lucas Graciano. Digital.

If you’ve been following along with the Art Market Minutes from Ravnica Allegiance, you’ve no doubt noticed that the final prices are nothing short of a seismograph. Some works are selling for fantastic amounts, well beyond artist and collector expectations, while others are falling short of or just barely at perceived estimates. A joint effort between several art writers will be coming post-War of the Spark to take a look at the current State of the Art Market, as we try to make heads or tails of exactly is happening.

The Art

Graciano’s Isperia, Supreme Judge is a another reimagining of Isperia, and a bit of a departure from her previous iterations. She first appeared in the original Ravnica block in 2006 as Isperia the Inscrutable; younger, golden-hued and unarmored:

Isperia the Inscrutable by Greg Staples, for Dissension

Her next version (of which this card is a direct reprint, just with new art), came in Return to Ravnica in 2012 and was illustrated by Scott M. Fischer:

Iseperia, Supreme Judge by Scott M. Fischer, for Return to Ravnica

This likeness is much more familiar; she is larger than life, wise, fully armored, and in the cool blue and purple palette of the upper echelon Azorius. There is no doubt she is at the helm of the Azorius.

Graciano’s depiction is of a much smoother, regal Isperia. She is no longer “inscrutable” and has lost the grittiness and weathered appearance as seen in Fischer’s version. It’s almost as if she has come to terms with her eventual downfall at the hands of Vraska, looking over her Guild and her city, in hopes that law will once again reign supreme.

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