At Auction | Sotheby’s Old Master Week

Posted in Art Market by Editor on January 1, 2015


Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto, London, a View of the Old Horse Guards and Banqueting Hall, Whitehall Seen from St. James’ Park, ca. 1749. Estimate. $4–6 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

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Press release (16 December 2014). . .

Sotheby’s Sale 9302 | Master Paintings: Part I
New York, 29 January 2015

Sotheby’s January 2015 Old Master Week in New York will feature a select group of highly important paintings assembled by noted collector J. E. Safra (included in Sale 9302). The choice offering of 17 paintings presents a wide range of styles and genres of the period including the Dutch Golden Age, as well as 18th-century Italian and French. The vast majority of the works have been off the market for at least 20 years and together the group is estimated to bring $22–34 million. The paintings will go on public exhibition, alongside Sotheby’s Old Master Week sales, beginning 24 January.

Leading a very strong group of Dutch works to be offered in Sotheby’s January 2015 sales is Frozen River at Sunset, painted by Aert van der Neer in or shortly after 1660, a period that was a high point for Dutch landscape painting and for the artist himself (est. $4–6 million). The work embodies the artist’s fascination with the people and the world around him and most notably the effect of light on a winter landscape and how it can transform the content and mood of a composition.

Willem van de Velde the Elder (1611–1693), Dutch Harbor in a Calm with Small Vessels, Lot 32, estimate $2–3 million.

Willem van de Velde the Elder (1611–1693), Dutch Harbor in a Calm with Small Vessels. Lot 32, estimate $2–3 million.

Willem van de Velde the Elder’s Dutch Harbor in a Calm with small Vessels is one of the greatest examples of a penschilderij (pen and ink painting) remaining private hands (est. $2–3 million). Executed in a remarkable combination of pen, ink and brush over a thin layer of lead white, the use of quills of varying sizes and inks in different shades creates a remarkable sense of recession without the loss of any detail, even in the distant buildings of the town beyond.

A Roemer, an Overturned Pewter Jug, Olives and a Half- Peeled Lemon on Pewter Plates is a key work in Pieter Claesz.’s development as a painter of still-life, signaling a new approach to the genre (est. $2–3 million). In this modest ontbijtje (breakfast piece), he abandons the more luxurious displays of his early years in favor of compositions with fewer objects organized around a simple geometric structure and restricts his palette to suit this more muted style.

Among the wonderful Italian works to be offered from Mr. Safra’s collection is an exquisite example of views from Canaletto’s English period: London, A View of the Old Horse Guards and Banqueting Hall, Whitehall seen from St. James’ Park (est. $4–6 million). In May of 1746, Canaletto transferred his studio to London, perhaps in pursuit of fresh challenges. The outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1740 had discouraged English visitors from undertaking the Grand Tour, and these had made up the majority of Canaletto’s patrons. The painting is presumed to date to 1749, when the old, red brick Horse Guards had been condemned. This perhaps captured the imagination of the artist, compelling him to record the architecture in painted form for posterity.

Giovanni Paolo Panini, Rome, The Pantheon, A View of the Interior towards the Piazza della Rotonda, 1732. Lot 91, estimate $3–5 million.

Giovanni Paolo Panini’s Rome, The Pantheon, A View of the Interior towards the Piazza della Rotonda is the earliest dated view of the interior of the Pantheon in Rome by the artist (est. $3–5 million). The work is in fantastic condition and a wonderful snapshot of figures marveling at the spectacular construction around them, in much the same way as they do today. Panini offers us a broad spectrum of the social tapestry of Rome in 1732; the spirited figures include soldiers, clergymen, beggars and other people at prayer, all dwarfed by the ancient Roman temple. As is typical of Panini’s great works, the meticulously observed architecture, particularly the Corinthian capitals, is bathed in the warm and inviting glow of Rome’s afternoon light

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