Old Masters at Bonham’s

Posted in Art Market by Editor on December 16, 2009

As noted at Artdaily.org, sales were strong at Bonham’s Old Masters auction (9 December 2009). A press release from the London auction house outlines the highlights, which included François Boucher’s Les Caresses Dangereuses and a pair of paintings by Johannes Christianus Roedig that established a record price for the artist. The following details for each lot come from Bonham’s website:

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Lot #62 — François Boucher, Les Caresses Dangeureuses
oil on canvas, 80 x 64.5cm (31 1/2 x 25 3/8in)
Sold for £228,000 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium [pre-sale estimate: £80,000-120,000]

Provenance: Laborde de Méréville sale, Christie’s, London, 6-7 March 1801, Day, lot 14, as A Lady with a Cat by Boucher (bought by Parry for £3.5.0 d.); Mrs Orme Wilson, New York; Her posthumous sale, Parke-Bernet, 25-26 March, 1949, 2nd day, lot 366 (as Attributed to François Boucher and identifying the woman as the wife of the painter [Charles-Antoine] Coypel); Purchased by Mrs Lewis Latham Clark, and thence by descent to the present owner.

Literature: Hermann Voss, “François Boucher’s Early Development,” The Burlington Magazine, March 1953, fig. 69; Alexander Ananoff, François Boucher (Lausanne and Paris, 1976), Vol. I, p. 213, no. 80/2 and fig. 351 (described as a pastel); Pierrette Jean-Richard, L’Oeuvre gravé de François Boucher (Paris, 1978), p.336, implying that it was the work engraved by Joseph de Longeuil, and saying that: “the clumsy treatment of the cat indicates a production of [Boucher’s] youth.”

We are grateful to Alastair Laing for confirming on first hand inspection that the present painting is an autograph work by François Boucher. The composition probably dates from circa 1730/1732 and relates to Longeuil’s engraving, Les caresses dangereuses (see fig. 1), which, owing to certain differences of detail, was most likely based on a later, now lost, version of the subject. In it, Boucher picks up the main motif of a picture that he had painted in a number of versions before he went to Italy, known as La Surprise (cf. exh. cat. Boucher, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Detroit Institute of Arts; and the Grand Palais, Paris, 1986-87, no. 2).

The engraving was accompanied by the following verse by Moraine:

Quoique ce Chat, belle Iris, vous caresse,
Défiez-vous toujours de sa patte traitresse:
Il ressemble fort à l’Amour,
Qui flatte, et dans l’instant v[ou]s joue un mauvais tour

For further details, click here»

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Lot #81 — Johannes Christianus Roedig, (L) Tulips, roses and other flowers in a classical urn overturned by a cat chasing a mouse with a statue of Flora beyond and (R) Peaches, grapes, pumpkins, a lemon, a pomegranate and other fruit and flowers in a wicker basket on a marble plinth, with a classical urn beyond, both signed and dated ‘C Roedig/1779’ (lower right, in brick and lower left, on stone), a pair, oil on panel, 73 x 57.5cm (28 3/4 x 22 5/8in)

Sold for £1,196,000 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium [pre-sale estimate: £700,000-900,000]

Provenance: Sale, Pieter Lyonet, Amsterdam (Bunel and Yver) 11 April, 1791, nos. 217 and 218; Sale, Amsterdam (Van der Schley .. Vinkeles) 7 May, 1804, no. 145; Sale, Wreesman, Amsterdam (Van der Schley .. Vries) 11 April, 1816, no. 154; Private Collection, the Netherlands, circa 1820 and thence by descent until circa 1970; Collection of Miss Wurfbain, Wassenaar, 1983; With Kunsthandel Hoogsteder and Hoogsteder, 1987, whence acquired by the present owner.

Exhibitions: Amsterdam, 1970, Boeket in Willet, no. 26 (only floral still life); De Boer, Amsterdam and Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Brunswick, 1983, De vrucht van het verleden, nos. 70-71

Literature: S. Segal, cat. Boeket in Willet, Amsterdam, 1970, no. 26, ill; S. Segal, cat. A Fruitful Past, Amsterdam and Brunswick, 1983, pp. 86-87, nos. 70-71, ill.

It is quite exceptional for examples of this artist’s work of such outstanding quality to appear on the market. Fred Meijer has interestingly pointed out that Roedig must have produced various levels of quality in his oeuvre to cater for a varying clientele. As well as producing individual works of very high quality, such as the present pair, Roedig appears to have produced deliberate fakes (bearing signatures) of such artist as Paul-Thedore van Brussel and Jan Davidsz. de Heem, in which his hand is clearly recognisable. From correspondence between Roedig’s son and the nineteenth century art historian, Adriaen van der Willigen, we know that the artist sold a large number of his works to Russia during his lifetime, which explains why hardly any, let alone his outstanding works, remained in his native Holland. For example, in 1783, the Russian Count Alexander Sergeyevich Stroganov, a confidant of Catherine II, bought two paintings by the artist and gave these to the connoisseur empress. The present pair of paintings thus provide a unique opportunity of acquiring examples of Roedig’s work of this calibre. It is also remarkable that this pair of paintings have remained together since they were painted and that their provenance can be traced back to shortly after their creation in 1791. . . .

For the full entry, click here»

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