V&A Acquires Long-Hidden Volume of Gillray Prints

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on December 17, 2009

From a press release from the UK’s Ministry of Justice, as reported by artdaily.org, 16 December 2009:

James Gillray, "Fashionable Contrasts", or the "Duchess’s Little Shoe Yielding to the Magnitude of the Duke’s Foot", etching, 1792 ©V&A Images.

An album of 40 ‘suppressed’ cartoons by leading British caricaturist James Gillray (1756-1815) has recently come to light in the Criminal Law Policy Unit of the Ministry of Justice. It features material judged socially unacceptable in the 19th century – including explicitly sexual, scatological and politically outrageous subject matter. The album [of etchings] was probably seized by police more than a century ago as ‘pornographic material’ and handed to Government officials. This slim volume of ‘Curiosa’ has now been transferred to the print collections of the V&A.

In the 1840s Gillray’s plates were acquired by an enterprising publisher, Henry Bohn, who re-issued the caricatures both as single sheets and in large bound volumes. In the narrow moral climate of early Victorian London, Bohn could not publish all the Gillray plates and so printed those considered offensive in much smaller numbers and made them available from his establishment clandestinely.

It is one of these clandestine volumes which has now been rediscovered. Initially preserved by the department then dealing with vice and pornography at the Home Office, it recently came to light in the Ministry of Justice. The folio joins one held by the V&A since 1869, containing around 500 caricatures. Both folios can be seen in the V&A’s Prints and Drawings Study Room. . . .

For the rest of the article, click here»

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Coverage can also be found in the London Times and the Guardian (the latter includes a terrific photograph of the curator Stephen Calloway with the folio volume).

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Call for Papers: Être historien de l’art aujourd’hui

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on December 16, 2009

From the INHA website:

Being an Art Historian Today : An International Symposium
Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris, 18-19 June 2010

Paper proposals due by 25 January 2010

Organized by THES-ARTS, association of PhD students and PhD’s in 19th- and 20th-Century Art, at the Paris-Sorbonne University

For its first anniversary in June 2010, the THES-ARTS Association will initiate a series of symposiums in order to promote the work of young art historians. As preamble THES-ARTS decided to dedicate its first symposium to today’s role of the art historian. This event will be the occasion to place ourselves in relation to this discipline and also to statue on its evolution. Being a social science, Art History cannot afford a fixed way of looking at things, but needs constant renewal by confronting itself to the evolution of its proper subject of research. While the artistic revolutions of the last decades have deeply transformed the process of creation, it has become inevitable to question the way these disruptions have, or have not changed the thoughts and researches of the art historian, as well as the applications of his work. This symposium will be organized around three main problematics, which will question the rearrangement of traditional settings in which Art History is born.

New Researching Tools / New Art Forms / New Art Histories?

In the last few years, the new materialities of the work as the new researching tools have reinvented the approach and the speech of the art historian. Through the artistic experimentations, which have emerged at the dawn of the twentieth century, the materiality of the work has changed. The artist has appropriated every single element of life from the usual objects to the precious ones, from the organic to the new technologies, from tangible to the immaterial. The lack of boundaries of these raw materials has enriched the artistic vocabulary that has in its turn contributed to the evolution of the art historian’s theoretical vocabulary. The art historian’s work has been revitalized by the creation of innovative tools, which brought him to reconsider his approach towards new and old works. Thanks to technology and especially to computer science, many tools are now accessible to the researcher. Databases have been created, museums have digitized their collections and archives are now widely available by remote access. Is travelling and facing the original works getting superfluous? This symposium will be the occasion to study how art historians reinvent their way of researching and their speech when faced with these new stakes.

Art History Today: In Search of Critical Detachment

The renewal of the work materiality and the methodology of the art historian raise the question of the detachment he uses to understand the works of his time. Constantly assailed by requests to give his point of view in the various medias, isn’t he playing both roles, the one of critics and of scientifics? His ability to expertise gives him a specific legitimacy to express his judgments of taste. But at the same time, he might try to find his place amongst writers, journalists or even philosophers? Is this mediatic shift shattering the theoretical foundations of Art History? Some studies will have to answer these questions by recounting the epistemological continuities and discontinuities which characterize Art History and by analyzing how the past’s Art History influences today’s Art History.

Art History as Applied Art

From the library to the museum via the gallery, the art historian has to face different scopes of application that turned his knowledge into a “savoir-faire” making sense in its interaction with other subjects and jobs. Through this gathering of knowledge which has also nourished other theories, doesn’t the art historian appear as much as a scientific and a professional of conservation and circulation of cultural inheritance? From these three problematics, transverse studies will contribute to improve the thought. Thus, while questions have appeared in recent years concerning the survival of Art History (in the works of Hervé Fischer and Hans Belting, for example), this upcoming symposium will remind us how the art historian has always been able to invent a totally new methodology, a new approach of art, metamorphosing his fields of thinking and his areas of applications, as he was carried by the creative impetus of art.

Abstracts — in French or English — should not be more than 500 words. Please submit the abstract and a short CV, before the 25th January 2010 to: thesarts.sorbonne@gmail.com. Replies will be sent at the end of January 2010. For the participants, the costs of travel and lodging will be paid for in full or in part. Articles will be published after the conference on the THES-ARTS website.


The French artist and philosopher Hervé Fischer symbolically cut the the string of linear Art History on 15 February 1979 during a performance in the Centre Pompidou Museum. He is also the author of the essay L’histoire de l’art est terminée published in 1981. The German art historian Hans Belting continues Fischer’s reflections in 1983, in L’histoire de l’art est-elle finie?

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»

New & Forthcoming Books

Posted in books, Member News by Editor on December 15, 2009

Here’s a selection of new titles from the December 15th issue of the Michael Shamansky catalogue. Shamansky – online as artbooks.com – specializes in monographs, guides, and exhibition catalogues imported from European publishers.

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Item #104324 – Mary Sheriff, ed., Cultural Contact and the Making of European Art since the Age of Exploration (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010), ISBN: 9780807833667, $35.
Art historians have long been accustomed to thinking about art and artists in terms of national traditions. This volume takes a different approach, suggesting instead that a history of art based on national divisions often obscures the processes of cultural appropriation and global exchange that shaped the visual arts of Europe in fundamental ways between 1492 and the early twentieth century. Essays here analyze distinct zones of contact–between various European states, between Asia and Europe, or between Europe and so-called primitive cultures in Africa, the Americas, and the South Pacific–focusing mainly but not exclusively on painting, drawing, or the decorative arts. Each case foregrounds the centrality of international borrowings or colonial appropriations and counters conceptions of European art as a “pure” tradition uninfluenced by the artistic forms of other cultures. The contributors analyze the social, cultural, commercial, and political conditions of cultural contact–including tourism, colonialism, religious pilgrimage, trade missions, and scientific voyages–that enabled these exchanges well before the modern age of globalization. Contributors include: Claire Farago, Elisabeth A. Fraser, Julie Hochstrasser, Christopher Johns, Carol Mavor, Mary D. Sheriff, and Lyneise E. Williams.

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Item #100864 – P. M. Harman, The Culture of Nature in Britain, 1680-1860 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), ISBN: 9780300151978, $65.
This wide-ranging book investigates the emergence of modern ideas about the natural world in Britain from 1680–1860 through an examination of the cultural values common to the sciences, art, literature, and natural theology. During this critical period, spanned by Newtonian science, natural theology, Darwin’s Origin of Species, and Ruskin’s Modern Painters, the fundamental conception of nature and humanity’s place within it changed. P. M. Harman calls for a new understanding of the varied ways in which the British comprehended natural beauty, from the perception of nature as a “design” flowing from God’s creative power to the Darwinian naturalistic aesthetic. Harman connects a variety of differing views of nature deriving from religion, science, visual art, philosophy, and literature to developments in agriculture, manufacturing, and the daily lives of individuals. This ambitious and accessible book represents intellectual history at its best.

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Item #104097 – Giuseppe Pavanello, ed., Rosalba Carriera, 1673-1757: Atti del convegno 26-28 aprile 2007, Fondazione Cini, Venezia (Verona: Scripta, 2009), ISBN: 9788896162088, $75.
Thanks to the initiatives promoted by the Veneto Region and the Giorgio Cini Foundation through the Regional Committee for the celebrations of the 250th anniversary of the death of Rosalba Carriera (1757-2007), it was possible to render due homage to a painter who rose to be a leading artist on the European scene. This prominent role, highlighted by the exhibition Rosalba Carriera: prima pittrice de lEuropa held in the Palazzo Cini in 2007, has now been emphasised again with the publication of the proceedings of the Conference held at the Giorgio Cini Foundation and in Chioggia in the spring of the same year. The papers in the book cast new light on Rosalba’s activities in the Venetian art world and on the European scene. One specific enquiry was focused on the topic of collecting Rosalba Carriera works, which was dealt with in a conference session and also finds a place in the proceedings. For the first time (and in Italian) the remarkable Dresden collection has been examined and illustrated with exhaustive images as never before. One gem from the Dresden museum, the Portrait of Giambattista Recanati in Abbots Dress, was chosen for the cover of the book: the sitter is depicted immersed in thought with a hand over his chest, an allusion to his heart. This ‘portrait in grey’ is a forerunner of the celebrated masterpieces of the late 18th century painted in a single colour tone.

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Item #104119 – Jean Raoux, 1677-1734, exhibition catalogue (Paris: Somogy, 2009), ISBN: 9782757202876, $58.95.
Jean Raoux (1677-1734) is, along with Sébastien Bourdon, Joseph-Marie Vien, François-Xavier Fabre and Frédéric Bazille, one of the great French artists born in Languedoc. The painter, a contemporary of Antoine Watteau, actively participated in the revival of French painting during the Regency. Virtuoso, sensual, elegant, Jean Raoux truly merits that his home town dedicates a major exhibition to him. This first-ever retrospective reunites the artist’s most beautiful masterpieces, on loan from the great French museums as well as from collections in Germany, Austria, Italy, Britain, America and Russia. Rarely shown and with prestigious provenance, the paintings in this exhibition reveal the extent of his talent as portraitist of the aristocracy, of the world of performance, of historical and religious subjects, as well as a painter of genre scenes in the Dutch style. His artistry exalts the beauty of women, whether as a mythological heroine or a coquettish woman going about her everyday occupations. This selection highlights the multiple facets of Raoux, famous in his time and highly esteemed by Voltaire.

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Item #104322 – Philip Conisbee, ed., French Paintings of the Fifteenth through the Eighteenth Century: The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), ISBN: 9780691145358, $99.
Georges de La Tour’s haunting depiction of a repentant Mary Magdalen gazing into a mirror by candlelight; Jean Siméon Chardin’s perfectly balanced image of a young boy making a house of cards; Jean Honoré Fragonard’s monumental suite of landscapes showing aristocrats at play in picturesque gardens–these are among the familiar and beloved masterpieces in the National Gallery of Art, which houses one of the most important collections of French old master paintings outside France. This lavishly illustrated book, written by leading scholars and the result of years of research and technical analysis, catalogues nearly one hundred paintings, from works by François Clouet in the sixteenth century to paintings by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun in the eighteenth. French art before the revolution is characterized by an astonishing variety of styles and themes and by a consistently high quality of production, the result of an efficient training system developed by the traditional guilds and the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, founded in 1648 by King Louis XIV. The National Gallery collection reflects this quality and diversity, featuring excellent examples by all the leading painters: ideal landscapes by Claude Lorrain and biblical subjects by Nicolas Poussin, two artists who spent most of their careers in Rome; deeply moving religious works by La Tour, Sébastien Bourdon, and Simon Vouet; portraits of the grandest format (Philippe de Champaigne’s Omer Talon) and the most intimate (Nicolas de Largillierre’s Elizabeth Throckmorton); and familiar scenes of daily life by the Le Nain brothers in the seventeenth century and Chardin in the eighteenth. The Gallery’s collection is especially notable for its holdings of eighteenth-century painting, from Jean Antoine Watteau to Hubert Robert, and including marvelous suites of paintings by François Boucher and Fragonard. All these works are explored in detailed, readable entries that will appeal as much to the general art lover as to the specialist.

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Item #104006 — Les Cahiers d’Histoire de l’Art, n.7 (2009), ISBN: 9782953301410, $58.50. Includes:

  • S. Gopin / M. Eidelberg, “Jean Baptiste Vanmour 1671-1737 ‘Peintre ordinaire du Roy et en Levant'”
  • Y. Jackall “Recovering the work of Marie-Genevieve Bouliar 1763-1825: The invention of self in Revolutionary France”
  • M. T. Caracciolo “Jean Baptiste Wicar (Lille, 1762 – Rome, 1834) – Catalogue raisonné des peintures, Premiere partie: peintures historiques et religieuses,” etc.

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Item # 102894 – Edmond and Jules Goncourt, L’Art du XVIIIe siècle, edited and annotated by Jean-Louis Cabanès, 2 vols. (Tusson: De Lerot, 2007), ISBN: 9782355480089, $160.

  • Volume I: Watteau, Chardin, Boucher, La Tour, Greuze, Les Saint-Aubin
  • Volume II: Gravelot, Cochin, Eisen, Moreau, Debucourt, Fragonard, Prudhon

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Item Number: 104080 — Elena Marenghi, Ignazio Stern: (1679-1748),  l’opera di un pittore tedesco in Romagna (Imola: Associazione culturale San Macario, 2007), $77.50.

Once Every Four Years — ISECS Conference

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on December 14, 2009

13th International Congress for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Graz, Austria, 25-29 July 2011

Proposals due by 31 January 2011

Organised by ISECS, the University of Graz, and the University for Music and Dramatic Arts of Graz

Graz is situated in South Eastern Austria which is in Central Europe. Travellers can reach the town by aeroplane (from Vienna, Frankfurt and other destinations), by train or by car. Graz is the historical centre of the unique region in Europe where Latin, Germanic and Slavic elements come together to form a common heritage. There are three universities with about 50,000 students.

Main subjects

I. Time in the Age of Enlightenment: Situating the Present, Imagining the Future
In the age of Enlightenment man did not only think systematically and continuously about his life, but began to manage and change it. So it is necessary to focus on this change in perception of time and to ask: In which manner did man esteem his time? What were the reasons for turning his attention to the future? What did the visions about the future contain? For instance: How did man intend to organise the future? What did the idea of prevention mean for him? Since the 18th century served as foundation for today’s world – which of the contemporary visions are still prevalent and which ones are not and why not?

II. Central and Eastern Europe in the Age of Enlightenment
Although Central and Eastern Europe represent a considerable part of the European continent, this area does not have the same characteristics in the 18th century as the Western world: The political order was based on large Empires (Russia, Turkey, Austria), similar colonial processes as in the occident did not exist, the cultural situation was influenced by three major religions (Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Islam) and by a dominant rural world. The most important questions are: What was the social and cultural profile of the countries in this space in the 18th century? How did the Enlightenment from the West enter into the area between the Baltic and the Black Seas? What signals did this region give to the West? Are there any effects which have remained as problems till the present?

Beginning October 2010 we will gladly accept your proposal for a paper within a section or a workshop; applications forms are available on the conference website. We ask you to please register your proposal no later than January 31st, 2011. Proposals cannot be accept after this date. You will receive information about the acceptance of your proposal no later than March 1st, 2011 as well as a request to register yourself.

New Website for British Archives to Appear Soon

Posted in Calls for Papers, resources by Editor on December 13, 2009

London Lives, 1690-1800
De Havilland Campus, University of Hertfordshire, 5-6 July 2010

Proposals due by 28 February 2010

A call for papers and short presentations for a two-day conference to mark the launch of: http://www.londonlives.org. This new website will provide access, using an integrated search facility, to primary sources containing 240,000 pages of manuscripts sources and 3.2 million names, reflecting the history of eighteenth-century London. It includes the eighteenth-century material from the Old Bailey Online; the manuscript records of quarter sessions, three London parishes, Bridewell, St Thomas’s Hospital, and the Carpenter’s Company; datasets from the Westminster Pauper Biographies Project; and several datasets formerly deposited with the Arts and Humanities Data Service.

Conceived as an unconference, this event is designed to allow as many participants as possible to contribute in as many ways as possible. Contributions are invited from anyone whose research will benefit from use of the site. The schedule will include a few formal papers, but most sessions will consist of either short papers, of up to eight minutes, with slides (rigorously timed), or workshops in which specific historical questions are explored in small groups using both the London Lives website, and the wider infinite archive of the internet. There will also be some panel discussions comprising related 20-minute papers with opportunities for debate and shout outs. You may propose to participate in any of the ways described above. To do so, please submit a brief description of your work (not more than 150 words) to t.hitchcock@herts.ac.uk by 28 February 2010, with an indication of whether you would like to do an 8-minute presentation, a workshop, or a 20-minute paper.

Early access to the site will be arranged for those submitting a contribution. Although not finalised, we anticipate the cost (including accommodation) for this two-day event to be in the region of £120, with a discount for those contributing to the programme.

Call for Papers: Objects as Vehicles for Persuasion

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on December 12, 2009

Materials of Persuasion
Bard Graduate Center, New York, 23 April 2010

Proposals due by 29 January 2010

Few persons are capable of being convinced; the majority allow themselves to be persuaded. -Goethe

I’m in the persuasion business, and frankly I’m disappointed by your presentation. -Peggy Olson, Mad Men

Critics passing judgment, clergy seeking converts, advertisers selling products, and politicians running for office are all in the persuasion business. Persuasion is the key to the art of rhetoric, but there has always been a material dimension to persuasion as well. Objects are vehicles of persuasion. We are persuaded to purchase and consume objects, and we use them to persuade others, to mediate the identities we put forth, and our interactions with each other. The roles of persuasive objects change over time as they pass from hand to hand. The mutable relationships between material objects, people, and desire are powerful, tantalizing subjects of study. So how does persuasion factor into these fluid equations? Makers, buyers, and users all have unique perspectives on the art of persuasion, as well as unspoken intentions that are constantly at work beneath the surface. Some of these intentions may be deceptive – persuasion can have a dark side. Finally, persuasion rests upon various types of evidence – what must we see in order to believe? We invite scholars from diverse fields to explore these issues– come, and be persuasive. Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Marketing, advertising, and the mechanics of consumer desire
  • Branding and the elevation of the status symbol: what’s in a name?
  • The continuum of authenticity: influences, appropriations, copies, knock-offs and forgeries
  • Persuasive scholarship: methodologies, authorial tone, and the use of revealed/suppressed information
  • Surface treatments: gilding, varnishing, veneering, trompe l’oeil and faux materiality
  • The toolbox of persuasion: emotion, rationalism, the hard sell, manipulation, and deceit (more…)

Lighting the Lights

Posted in Art Market, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on December 11, 2009

At the start of Hanukkah, some eighteenth-century highlights from the recent sale at Sotheby’s in New York of Important Judaica (Sale 8606, 24 November 2009), as drawn from Sotheby’s website:

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Lot 86: Property of a Descendant of Selig Meier Goldschmidt – An Important German Parcel-Gilt Silver Hanukah Lamp, probably from Augsburg, ca. 1750
Estimate: 200,000—300,000 USD; Hammer Price with Buyer’s Premium: 542,500 USD

Height 13in. by length 12 3/8 in.

Raised at the front on four lion couchant feet, supporting scroll-based columns draped with floral pendants, each with two putti supporters and topped by figures of Judith, with sword and head, and David, with sling and spear, the backplate centered by a baroque cartouche surrounded by diaper and flanked by cornucopiae spilling flowers and topped by a flower-filled urn, all surmounted by two draped putti (formerly holding a shamas, now lacking), the leaf-form fonts above a shaped apron with fruit pendants, the lion rampant holding the Tablets applied probably later to backplate

Marked with large and small Austrian control mark for Brünn (now Brno, Czech Republic) 1806-07, and twice with Dutch control mark for foreign work (used 1813-1893)

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Lot 160: Medical Diploma of Israel Barukh Olmo, Manuscript on Vellum from Padua, 1755
Estimate: 25,000—35,000 USD. Hammer Price with Buyer’s Premium: 31,250 USD

4 leaves (9 ¼ x 6 ¾ in.; 236 x 170 mm); Written in brown and gold ink on vellum, f. 4 blank. Decorated. Contemporary mottled calf, gilt tooled border.

From the 16th through the 18th centuries, the prestigious medical school of the University of Padua was one of the only European institutions of higher education that allowed Jews to attend. According to university records, only 230 Jews graduated in the more than two centuries between 1517-1721. It was customary, upon graduation, to commission diplomas in the form of small richly decorated booklets and the format and style of these diplomas was unique to universities in Northern Italy. The text of the standard diploma, however, included references to Christianity which were unsuitable for the Jewish graduates. As may be seen in the present lot, the university, demonstrating considerable tolerance, allowed for the alteration of the customary Christian formulae. Whereas the standard diplomas from Padua began with the words “In Christi Nomine aeterni” and recorded the date as “Anno a Christi nativitate,” diplomas created for Jews substituted these phrases with “In Nomine Dei aeterni” and “currente anno.”

The coat of arms of the Olmo family, featuring a spouting fountain and a stalk of wheat on either side of a verdant tree, is prominently depicted on the frontispiece within a gilt medallion. Israel Barukh Olmo, the recipient of this diploma, was born in Ferrara to Jacob Daniel Olmo (1690-1757), a noted Italian rabbi and poet. Jacob served as the head of the yeshivah in Ferrara and also as the rabbi of the Ashkenazi synagogue. He authored numerous works including occasional poems and hymns, legal decisions, a poetic drama entitled Eden Arukh, as well as a volume documenting the rabbis of the Ashkenazi synagogue of Ferrara. Israel Barukh Olmo followed in his father’s footsteps and, in addition to his medical studies, authored occasional poems such as the one celebrating the wedding of Asher Chefetz (Anselmo Gentili) and Abigail Luzzatto circa 1750 (JTS library MS 9027 V1:9).

Literature & References: Vivian B. Mann, ed. Gardens and Ghettos: The Art of Jewish Life in Italy (1989), p. 235; Natalia Berger, Jews and Medicine: Religion, Culture, Science (1995).

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Lot 169: A Magnificent Illustrated Esther Scroll, from Prague, ca. 1700
Estimate: 100,000—120,000 USD. Hammer Price with Buyer’s Premium: 134,500 USD

Ink on parchment (12 ¼ x 103 in.; 310 x 2620 mm). Text written in square Hebrew script arranged in 16 columns of 25 lines on four membranes. Few very light stains. Housed in a turned cylindrical wooden case.

This splendid scroll of Esther is an extremely rare example of a megillah with a superb engraved border created by the artist Paul-Jean Franck. The eighteenth century witnessed the growth and success of numerous publishers of Hebrew books. These printers, presumably looking to further expand their market, undertook to produce illustrated megillot for use on the holiday of Purim. Recognizing that according to Jewish law, Esther scrolls must be written by hand in order to be ritually fit, the printers engraved highly decorative borders onto prepared parchment and left blocks of blank space within these borders, so that a scribe might insert the biblical text. The majority of eighteenth-century megillot with engraved borders were produced in Amsterdam and Venice. This Bohemian scroll, however, is an exceptionally rare example of a printed border published outside of these two centers. The signature of its remarkably skilled engraver, Paul-Jean Franck, can be found in the first panel of this scroll. . .

Literature & References: Cohen, Mintz and Schrijver. A Journey through Jewish Worlds. Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books (Amsterdam: 2009), pp. 266-67.

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Margaret Grasselli Speaks on Sunday

Posted in conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on December 11, 2009

This Sunday at 2pm, in conjunction with the exhibition of French drawings in Washington, Margaret Grasselli will deliver the lecture Playing Favorites: A Personal Selection of French Drawings from the National Gallery of Art. For details of the exhibition, Renaissance to Revolution: French Drawings from the National Gallery of Art, 1500–1800.

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Eighteenth-Century Footnote to Raphael’s $48million Drawing

Posted in Art Market by Editor on December 9, 2009

As Enfilade observed back in October when the announcement was first made regarding the sale of Raphael’s Head of a Muse, the drawing comes with an interesting eighteenth-century provenance; it once belonged to the Dutch collector Gosuinus Uilenbroek and the British painter Sir Thomas Lawrence. Last night in London, the work sold for a record $48million. As reported by Kelly Crow in the Wall Street Journal:

A rare Raphael chalk drawing of a woman’s head sold for a record £29.1 million, or $48 million, at Christie’s in London – the highest price paid all year for a work of art at auction. In the same sale, Christie’s sold a Rembrandt portrait that hadn’t been seen in public for nearly four decades for a record £20.2 million pounds, or $33.2 million. Raphael’s Head of a Muse sold to an anonymous buyer for double its high estimate, a sign that collectors are willing to chase after older masterpieces even as global prices for living artists remain shaky. The work’s price outperforms a Henri Matisse table scene that Christie’s sold this spring for $46.5 million and an Andy Warhol screenprint of 200 dollar bills that Sotheby’s sold last month for $43.7 million. . .

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