Enfilade

At Sotheby’s | MFA, Boston Acquires Two Pairs of Torah Finials

Posted in Art Market, museums by Editor on June 12, 2019

Press release (via Art Daily, 11 June 2019) . . .

Important Judaica Featuring the Serque Collection (Sale N10086)
Sotheby’s, New York, 5 June 2019

Jurgen Richels, German parcel-gilt silver Torah finials, made in Hamburg, ca. 1688–89, acquired by the MFA, Boston.

Driven by demand from private collectors and cultural institutions, Sotheby’s Important Judaica auction (Sale N10086) totaled $2.7 million in New York. From ceremonial silver to important manuscripts and fine art, exceptional items drove these results.

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston acquired two of sale’s top offerings of silver: a pair of German parcel-gilt silver Torah finials (lot 79)  from Hamburg ca. 1688–89 sold for $500,000, and a pair of large English parcel-gilt silver Torah finials (lot 3) from 1764 by British silversmith Edward Aldridge sold for $187,500. Both pair of finials stand out for their exceptional rarity and notable provenance, the latter of which were sold to benefit the Central Synagogue, London and were formerly in the famed collection of Philip Salomons—brother of the first Jewish Lord Mayor of London—who was one of the first collectors of antique Judaica in England.

Edward Aldridge, English parcel-gilt silver Torah finials, made in London, 1764, acquired by the MFA, Boston.

Isidor Kaufmann’s sensitive Portrait of a Rabbi with a Young Pupil (lot 43) achieved $375,000 (estimate $300,000–500,000). Renowned for his ravishing detail, Kaufmann gained wide recognition in Vienna during his lifetime. This double portrait reflects the deep spirituality of a centuries-old tradition that the artist witnessed during his summer trips to Galicia and Eastern Poland.

After much pre-sale excitement, the collection of nearly 300 postcards from American Jewish hotels and resorts from the 20th century (lot 29) sold for $8,750 (estimate $7,000–10,000). Assembled over the course of 20+ years by a private collector, the selection provides a panoramic view of Jewish leisure culture in America, depicting the grounds and amenities available at reports frequented by Jews not only the Catskill Mountains, but also in various vacation spots in Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and North Carolina.

The pre-sale press release is available here»

At Christie’s | Masterpieces from a Rothschild Collection

Posted in Art Market by Editor on May 12, 2019

Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Dans les blés
(estimate: £700,000–1 million)

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

From the press release (via Art Daily) . . .

Masterpieces from a Rothschild Collection (Sale 17726)
Christie’s, London, 4 July 2019

Telling the remarkable story of objects collected across centuries and treasured for generations, Christie’s will offer a landmark collection sale Masterpieces from a Rothschild Collection in London on 4 of July (Sale 17726). Comprising approximately 57 lots—each with exceptional provenance—this sale includes important European furniture and works of art collected by members of the prominent Rothschild banking family, particularly by Baron Gustave de Rothschild (1829–1911), and housed in some of the family’s magnificent residences.

The sale captures the spirit of le goût Rothschild—the celebrated aesthetic that has influenced many European and American interiors since the 19th century, following the collecting traditions of European royal courts during the Renaissance, Baroque, and Enlightenment periods. With estimates ranging from £10,000 to £2.5 million, select highlights will be on view in New York between 25 and 30 April and in Hong Kong from 24 to 27 May, followed by the London preview which opens to the public on 29 June.

Charles Cator, Deputy Chairman, Christie’s International: “The Rothschild name is synonymous with collecting at the very highest level, with many of the world’s greatest works of art having a Rothschild provenance. Their fabled name is added to the extraordinary roll call of illustrious owners of these masterpieces—many of them royal—from Louis XV and Marie Antoinette to William Beckford and Prince Demidoff. This sale is a celebration of connoisseurship and passionate collecting, and we are very proud to have been entrusted with these masterpieces. With the great resonance of the Rothschild provenance among collectors and institutions this is an unparalleled opportunity, which marks a very special high point in my long career at Christie’s. It is thrilling to have the privilege of handling these supreme works.”

Highlights include

Furniture with Royal Provenance

One of a pair of royal Flemish tortoiseshell, brass, pewter, inlaid ‘boulle’ marquetry, and giltwood cabinets attributed to Hendrick van Soest, Antwerp, ca. 1713 (estimate: £1.5–2.5million).

The top lot of the sale, a pair of royal Flemish tortoiseshell, brass, and pewter inlaid marquetry and giltwood cabinets, was commissioned in Antwerp around 1713 for Philip V King of Spain, the second son of the Grand Dauphin and grandson of Louis XIV (estimate: £1.5–2.5 million). This highly important pair of cabinets on stand, inlaid with superb and precious marquetry panels in tortoiseshell and engraved metals, belongs to a group of four cabinets originally commissioned for Philip V King of Spain from the workshop of the celebrated Antwerp furniture-maker and dealer Henrick Van Soest (1659–after 1726), one of the most prestigious cabinetmakers of Flanders who worked in the great tradition of Netherlandish marquetry furniture.

Commissioned by Queen Marie Antoinette of France, almost certainly for her Petit Trianon, a Louis XVI ormolu-mounted mahogany table à écrire, circa 1780, is by Jean-Henri Riesener, the Queen’s favoured cabinetmaker (estimate: £600,000–1,000,000). Notably, the table is marked with Marie Antoinette’s garde-meuble brand, which was applied to her personal furniture after 1784.

Further lots with royal provenance include a sundial by Julien Le Roy (1686–1759), which is thought to have been commissioned by King Louis XV (1710–1774) (estimate: £60,000–80,000).

Traditionally from the Spanish royal family and part of a very small group of luxurious 18th-century furniture incorporating Sèvres porcelain plaques is a Louis XVI ormolu, Sèvres porcelain and marquetry guéridon, circa 1782–83, by one of the most famous ébénistes of the late 18th century, Martin Carlin (estimate: £400,000–600,000). Acquired by Baron Gustave de Rothschild, this lot is closely related to a guéridon in The Frick Collection. Other lots with notable links to leading institutions include a magnificent late Louis XV ormolu-mounted ebony and Japanese lacquer ensemble consisting of two commodes and a pair of encoignures by Bernard III van Risenburgh, son of the celebrated master known as BVRB. Conceived in a bold avant-gardist neo-classical style, the commodes from this group are closely related to the masterpiece by the same ébéniste now at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The group comprises three lots with a combined estimate of £1,500,000 to £2,500,000.

Kunstkammer Objects

A set of ten parcel-gilt polychrome square enamel plaques by Leonard Limousin, circa 1550, each depicting an apostle in a circular wreath and with an identifying banner, have an estimate of £200,000 to £300,000. Also acquired by Baron Gustave de Rothschild, ‘The Rothschild Apostles’ exemplify Limousin’s finest creations in his clear sense of colour and the lively and original compositions. Two of the plaques, of Saint Andrew and Saint Bartholomew, are signed ‘LL’. These plaques formed part of a larger set of sibyls, prophets, and saints that adorned the antependium of an altar in the now-lost church of Santa Maria della Celestia in Venice. A number of the other plaques from the antependium, and also a liturgical lamp that hung above the altar, remained in the Rothschild family until recently; one is in the Correr Museum in Venice.

An important German silver-gilt double-cup, mark of Hans Beutmuller, Nuremberg, 1594–1602, was in the collections of both Baron Mayer Carl von Rothschild and Baroness James de Rothschild (estimate: £200,000–300,000). It is in the Gothic style revived in Nuremberg by Hans Petzold (1551–1633) at the end of the 16th century. Hans Beutmüller (1588–1622) worked with Petzold and ranked, in his own right, among the most reputable Nuremberg goldsmiths. A Venetian rectangular parcel-gilt, gilt-bronze, and rock crystal casket, circa 1600, belonged to the renowned collector and author William Beckford in the early 19th century (estimate: £100,000–150,000). With the precious use of rock crystal and Islamic-inspired lacquer decoration, it is obvious why it would have appealed to Beckford. When this casket was sold in the celebrated Fonthill Abbey sale of 1823, it was said to have come from the collection of Pope Paul V Borghese, who could have commissioned it himself. The casket was purchased at the Fonthill sale by an agent on behalf of the 2nd Earl Grosvenor.

Old Master Paintings

David Teniers’ lively and brilliantly observed The Ham Dinner was painted in 1648, when the artist was at the height of his powers (estimate: £800,000–1.2 million). Executed on an impressively large copper plate, allowing for a high degree of finish, it is an excellent example of the tavern scene genre that Teniers developed and excelled in. The painting has exceptional provenance, having been in the collection of Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Berry (1778–1820), son of the future King Charles X of France, and later belonging to Count Anatoly Nikolaievich Demidov, 1st Prince of San Donato (1813–1870), a Russian industrialist and one of the most significant collectors of his day. A further highlight is Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s dynamically designed, vibrantly coloured, and masterfully executed Dans les blés (estimate: £700,000–1 million), a masterpiece of the artist’s full maturity and an outstanding example of the artist’s intimate, small-scale ‘boudoir’ pictures, which are recognised as his most original and lasting contribution to the history of art.

At Christie’s | Asian Art

Posted in Art Market by Editor on May 3, 2019

Press release (via Art Daily) . . .

Art d’Asie (Sale 17457)
Christie’s, Paris, 12 June 2019

Imperial embroidered silk robe dating from the end of the Qianlong period (1736–1795). Estimate: €80,000–120,000.

On 12 June, Christie’s Paris will present its Asian Art sale (17457), which will offer high quality items, including a large range of works of art coming from European private collections.

The section dedicated to China will offer a beautiful white jade and rust ‘double-gourd’ vase. Dating from the Qianlong period (1736–1795), named for the sixth emperor of the Qing dynasty, this vase is meticulously carved and stands on a delicate circular foot. It is adorned with a double handled decorated with bats flying among clouds; the upper and lower parts are respectively embellished with the characters ‘da’ and ‘ji’, thus forming the term ‘da ji’, which means ‘great luck’. The neck is flanked with two handles holding a mobile ring with a bat carved in relief with outstretched wings holding a lingzhi (auspicious mushroom). The decoration of this remarkable object comprises promising symbols such as its double-gourd shape, associated with prosperity and abundance (estimate: €150,000–200,000).

The sale will also offer an imperial vase made of cloisonné enamel of striking beauty from the Kangxi period (1662–1722). Baluster-shaped, resting on a flared foot decorated with archaic chilong, the whole is enhanced with crenelated ridges in gilt-bronze. The body is decorated with stylized lotus, as well as the foot and the neck. The latter is highlighted by three gilt-bronze ram heads and chiseled nails intersected with banana leaves (estimate: €70,000–90,000).

Asian art lovers will have the chance to acquire an exceptional imperial embroidered silk robe dating from the end of the Qianlong period and the early Jiaqing period (1796–1820). The embroideries adorning this item are extremely delicate, as evidenced by the nine ‘five-claw’ dragons in the pursuit of the flaming pearl represented in gold and silver threads. In addition, the subtle shades of colors and the stylized clouds evoking ruyi heads are shown in multi-colour threads. The whole is embroidered on a bright yellow background, above a terrestrial diagram which emerges from tumultuous waves below which appears a large band of lishui, echoed on the sleeves as well. The neck is highlighted by a border embroidered with dragons on a black background (estimate: €80,000–120,000).

Coming from a French private collection, a celadon-glazed vase with molded decoration with a Qianlong impressed six-character seal mark will also be offered at auction. The body is magnified with molded decoration of blooming peonies among elegantly arranged foliage leaves. Separated by a band of ruyi and a band of stylized flowers, the tubular neck is embellished with petals and foliage (estimate: €100,000–150,000).

Other highlights include a superb zitan cabinet from the Qianlong period. This cabinet is composed of two very finely worked door panels. Four dragons, in pursuit of the inflamed pearl, seem to fly on a background of stylized clouds evoking ruyi heads. The gilt-bronze hinges are finely incised with dragons also represented on a background of clouds; the central fitting is decorated with stylized ‘shou’ characters and two small mobile plates adorned with bats (estimate: €120,000–150,000).

The section dedicated to Japan will offer a stunning samurai armor dating from the second half of the Edo period, at the end of the 18th century. Two coats of arms are visible, one representing the character ‘ue’, the other figuring an oxalis (katabami) flower probably belonging to the Sakai clan. The armor also includes an eboshi style helmet topped by two wakidate in the shape of lacquered wood horns. The frontal ornament depicts the sun in gilded wood. The breastplate is made of yokohagi-dô natural iron while its upper front and back parts as well as the shoulders are covered with brass inlaid of gold hira zogan decorated with coat of arms and foliages (estimate: €20,000–30,000).

Finally, the Asian Art department will be pleased to present, in its next sale, a rock crystal deer from the former personal collection of Coco Chanel. Executed during the Qing dynasty, the statuette represents a seating deer with its head turned to the right, holding a branch of lingzhi in its mouth (estimate: €2,000–3,000). Presented under a glass protection, the auspicious animal symbolizing longevity has adorned the coffee table of Coco Chanel’s suite at the Ritz Hotel for years.

At Christie’s | Desmarais Collection

Posted in Art Market by Editor on April 7, 2019

Jean-Henri Riesener, Louis XVI Ormolu-Mounted Bois Satine, Amaranth, Sycamore, and Marquetry Commode, 1774 (Lot 51: estimate: $700,000–1,000,000).

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Press release for the sale:

The Desmarais Collection: A Pied-à-terre in New York (Sale 17442)
Christie’s, New York, 30 April 2019

Christie’s presents The Desmarais Collection: A Pied-à-terre in New York, encompassing a remarkable selection of furniture, paintings, and porcelain to be offered in a dedicated sale on April 30 in New York, during the Classic Week series of sales. The collection is from the New York pied-à-terre of the distinguished Canadian couple Paul and Jacqueline Desmarais, which was decorated by the internationally acclaimed interior designer Juan Pablo Molyneux. Comprised of more than 150 lots, the collection features a sumptuous and sophisticated group of French 18th- and 19th-century furniture by many of the best makers such as Riesener and Weisweiler, Sèvres porcelain, silver, and paintings including works by the artists François Boucher and Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. The sale also features a selection of deluxe upholstered custom furniture and accessories specially ordered by J.P. Molyneux Studio, with luxurious fabrics by makers such as Prelle and Antico Setificio.

Paul Desmarais Sr. (1927–2013) was the former CEO of Power Corporation of Canada, and Jacqueline (1928–2018) was a philanthropist who was recognized as one of the most important patrons of Quebec’s arts scene. Jacqueline sat on the board of directors at the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and in honor of her philanthropic contributions she was named an officer of the Order of Canada, to the National Order of Quebec and to France’s Legion of Honour.

Lot 123: Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Portrait of a Young Girl, Half-length, ca. 1767. Estimate: $50,000–70,000. From the catalogue entry, “This charming portrait of a child is one of the earliest oil paintings that the artist executed, soon after she lost her father, the pastellist Louis Vigée, in May of 1767, when she was barely twelve years old.”

Will Strafford, Senior International Specialist, European Furniture & Decorative Arts, comments: “Christie’s is proud to offer this superb collection of French furniture, paintings and Sèvres porcelain on behalf of the Desmarais family, one of Canada’s leading families, noted as much for their acumen in the business world as for their generous philanthropy. The collection furnished their New York pied-à-terre in the Pierre hotel, and was the result of their long and fruitful collaboration with the noted interior designer Juan Pablo Molyneux.”

Juan Pablo Molyneux adds: “It was a great pleasure working with Monsieur and Madame Desmarais on their New York home. Jacqueline Desmarais reflected a very strong personality in her taste and had a very sophisticated approach when selecting styles, colors, and objets d’art. We worked side by side to produce the correct environment for this exceptional collection of 18th- and 19th-century period furnishings.”

Among the collection highlights, the Riesener commode is a spectacular work: a Louis XVI masterpiece in ormolu and lush naturalistic marquetry that Jean-Henri Riesener made for the hôtel du Garde-Meuble (the administration in charge of furnishing royal residences) in 1774, the year he was appointed cabinetmaker for the King (lot 51). Other highlights include an elegant early 19th-century vase from Russia’s imperial stone-cutting workshops and one of the most complete 18th-century Sèvres porcelain services still in private hands, decorated with images from the Comte de Buffon’s Natural History of Birds (lot 17). Eighteenth-century paintings include a beautiful Portrait of a Young Girl by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (lot 123) and Vénus et les amours by François Boucher (lot 112), First Painter to the King under Louis XV.

Salon du Dessin 2019

Posted in Art Market, conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on March 28, 2019

From the press kit:

Salon du Dessin 2019
Palais Brongniart, Paris, 27 March — 1 April 2019

The eagerly anticipated Salon du Dessin will take place again this spring under the vaulted roof of Paris’s Palais Brongniart and will once again feature a selection of outstanding works on paper. among the 39 exhibitors from around the world will be four handpicked new galleries and two that are returning after an absence of a few years. Among the treasures on display will be rare drawings by egon schiele and Gustav Klimt, presented by the Austrian gallery Wienerroither & Kohlbacher, and a solo show of the work of contemporary artist Jean-Baptiste Sécheret on the stand of Galerie Jacques Elbaz. The German dealer Martin Moeller will celebrate 100 years of drawings from his country, while the Galerie de la Présidence features drawings by sculptors.

Juan Antonio Conchillos y Falcó, Academic Study, 1703; offered by Artur Ramon Art ($36,000).

The 28th edition of the art fair will also host two museum-level exhibitions. Festivities in Paris will feature drawings from the collection of the Musée Carnavalet-Histoire de Paris (currently closed for renovation until late 2019), while the Maison Chaumet will exhibit drawings of its jewelry in an exhibition on the theme of nature, curated by botanist Marc Jeanson, who worked on the magnificent exhibition Jardins at the Grand Palais in 2017.

Other highlights of the Salon du Dessin will be the presentation of the 12th Daniel and Florence Guerlain Drawing Prize and the return of a program of international symposia, which will focus on the performing arts this year. Drawing Week, a highly popular off-site event organized in partnership with over 20 museums and institutions, will offer access to graphic arts collections that are usually off-limits to the public.

W E D N E S D A Y ,  2 7  M A R C H  2 0 1 9

Occupying the Stage: Sets and Costumes
Chair: Jean-Claude Yon (Professor at the University of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines)

• Emmanuelle Brugerolles (Curator General at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris), Georges Focus and the Theater: Sets and Staging
• Rudi Risatti (Curator at the Theatermuseum in Vienna), The Magic Space: Technical and Aesthetic Solutions in Baroque Scenography as Seen in Drawings from the Theatermuseum in Vienna
• Marc-Henri Jordan (independent art historian, doctoral student, University of Lausanne), The Royal Academy of Music in Search of Draftsmen and Painters: Identification of Decorative Drawings and Clothing, ca. 1780
• Catherine Join-Diéterle (Curator General, former director of the Musée Galliera, Paris), Theater Sets in the Romantic Era: A New Approach to the Stage Area
• Marine Kisiel (Painting Curator at the Musée d’Orsay), ‘A Unique System of Lines’: The Body in Space in the Work of Edgar Degas
• Mathias Auclair (Director of the Music Department at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris), The Stage Seen as a Painting: The Birth of Scenography at the Paris Opera, 1914–1972

T H U R S D A Y ,  2 8  M A R C H  2 0 1 9

Occupying the City: Festivities and Ceremonies
Chair: Michel Delon (Professor at the University of Paris-IV Sorbonne)

• Franca Varallo (Professor at the university of Turin), Onorato Tiranti’s Il Laberinto de Groppi and Drawings for Festivities by Tommaso Borgonio
• Jérôme de La Gorce (Emeritus Research Director, CNRS- Centre André Chastel), Collections of Drawings Held in Paris and Madrid Illustrating Important Celebrations of the Marriage of Madame to the Infant of Spain, 1739
• Maria Ida Biggi (Director of the Centro Studi per la Ricerca Documentale sul Teatro Europeo Fondazione Cini, Venice), Le feste sull’acqua: Apparati per Napoleone
• Gaëlle Lafage (Postdoctoral Researcher, Université de Paris Sorbonne), Drawing as a Source of Study of Fireworks
• José de Los Llanos (Chief Curator, Head of the Musée Carnavalet’s Graphic art Department) and David Simonneau (Conservation Assistant, Musée Carnavalet Graphic art department), Festivals and Spectacles in the Collection of the Musée Carnavalet-Histoire de Paris, 17th–19th Centuries

Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art at TEFAF 2019

Posted in Art Market by Editor on March 13, 2019

From the press release:

Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art at TEFAF
Maastricht, 16–24 March 2019

Giovanni Battista Foggini, Portrait of Marguerite Louise d’Orléans, 1687, marble, 77 cm.

This 1687 marble portrait bust portrays Marguerite Louise of Orléans, wife of Cosimo III de’ Medici, the enfant terrible of the Medici dynasty. A free-spirited woman, Marguerite Louise, although she bore Cosimo three heirs, never submitted emotionally to the marriage, came to despise her husband, his family and the Court in Florence, and made Cosimo’s life miserable. Eventually she obtained a separation, returned to France, and lived as she pleased, bringing even her cousin King Louis XIV to despair at her outrageous behaviour.

The marble bust is offered by Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art, at TEFAF Maastricht with several fresh discoveries: previously unpublished documents clarifying that it was commissioned by the Medici; that it is a fully autograph work by Giovanni Battista Foggini (1652–1725), a contention borne out by specific payments made to the sculptor; and that it was carved at an earlier date than formerly suggested.

It is a one of a series of eight masterful busts that celebrates the family of Ferdinando II of Florence, including his Cardinal brothers and his son Cosimo and the future Grand Duchess Marguerite. This is the last bust from the group to remain on the market, as all of the others are now with European and American public collections, including the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Regarding its commission and original location, the bust is mentioned along with the other pieces in the group in inventories of the Villa di Lappeggi, the country residence of Cardinal Francesco Maria de’ Medici, brother to Ferdinand II, immediately after his death in 1711. Research by Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art has found the record of payments to the artist Foggini, showing that the busts were executed between August 1681 and 15 December 1687. The final bust to be delivered was that of Marguerite, who by then had been living back in France for 12 years. Its likeness was probably taken by Foggini from existing images of the Grand Duchess already in the family collections; in fact it is highly likely to be a carved version of a now lost portrait of Marguerite Louise by court portraitist Justus Sustermans, known to us thanks to an engraving by Adriaen Haelwegh.

The group dates to a time when Foggini was heavy influenced by Bernini, the artist previously believed to be the author of these pieces. Among the notable owners of the present bust is the famous 19th-century collector and dealer Stefano Bardini, whose clients included Isabella Gardner Stewart and John Pierpont Morgan. Most recently the bust became the prized possession of Alessandro Contini Bonaccossi, whose collection is now a public museum in Florence. The bust will be offered at TEFAF Maastricht by Carlo Orsi-Trinity Fine Art for an asking price in the region of €3,000,000.

Note (added 23 March 2019) — A second press release (available via Art Daily) notes the sale of the bust: “Carlo Orsi confirmed the sale to a new private European client for a seven-figure sum after it received substantial interest from collectors and museums world-wide.”

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

From TEFAF:

TEFAF Maastricht to Host Highlights from Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden ahead of Museum Openings Later This Year

TEFAF will host 23 highlights from both the Paraderäume (State Apartments) of Dresden’s Residenzschloss (Royal Palace) and the Semperbau (Semper Building), home to the Gemäldegalerie (Old Masters Picture Gallery) and Skulpturensammlung (Sculpture Collection) all of which form part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections), in the loan exhibition hosted within TEFAF Paper at TEFAF Maastricht 2019. The exhibition will be a prelude to both the opening of the Paraderäume in September 2019 and the reopening of the Semperbau in December 2019 . . .

More information is available here»

At Sotheby’s | The Female Triumphant

Posted in Art Market by Editor on February 3, 2019

Press release (30 January 2019), from Sotheby’s:

The Master Paintings Evening Sale, N10007
Sotheby’s, New York, 30 January 2019

Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan, 1788. The painting of India’s ambassador to France sold for $7.2million, surpassing it’s high estimate of $6million.

Sale of Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun’s Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan establishes a new world auction record for any female artist of the pre-modern era.

Sotheby’s annual Masters Week sales series kicked off on Wednesday in New York, with 170 paintings and drawings sold across two auctions for an overall total of $67.8 million. The day began with Sir Peter Paul Rubens’s drawing of a Nude Study of Young Man with Raised Arms (Lot 15) selling for $8.2 million—a new world auction record for any drawing by the iconic artist. That result helped propel the Old Master Drawings Sale (N10006) to a $15.1 million total, which itself marks the highest total for this category in Sotheby’s history. The Master Paintings Evening Sale (N10007) included the work of groundbreaking female artists of the 16th–19th centuries and established multiple auction records, most notably for Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, whose Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan (Lot 48) achieved an incredible $7.2 million—a new world auction record for any female artist of the pre-modern era.

Sotheby’s Masters Week series continued through Saturday, with online sales of Old Masters and 19th Century European Art open for bidding through 6 February. Below is a look at some of the highlights that drove the results of Wednesday’s auctions:

The Female Triumphant

To highlight this year’s Masters Week sales series, Sotheby’s assembled a group of works by female artists of the pre-Modern era, celebrating the lives and important work of these groundbreaking women. Titled The Female Triumphant, the group features major paintings, drawings and sculpture created by leading female artists from the 16th through the 19th centuries.

Angelika Kauffmann, Portrait of Three Children, Likely Lady Georgina Spencer (Later Duchess of Devonshire), Lady Henrietta Spencer, and George Viscount Althorp, ca. 1766–70, oil on canvas.

Calvine Harvey, Specialist in Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department in New York, commented: “The number of Old Master female artists who succeeded and are known to us today remains incredibly few: in 2018, Sotheby’s sold only 14 works by female Old Masters, compared to 1,100 male artists. It’s important to remember that the obstacles women artists of the pre-Modern era faced were substantial, and those that broke down those barriers were truly triumphant. It was therefore such a thrill to see strong prices throughout our initial offering of works from The Female Triumphant—none more so than the monumental portrait by Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun that achieved a new auction record for any work by a female artist of the pre-Modern era. With additional records established for the work Fede Galizia, Angelica Kauffmann, and Giulia Lama, the market clearly responded to the work of these groundbreaking women, including both new and established collectors.”

The initial offering of The Female Triumphant collection featured the top lot of tonight’s auction: Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun’s life-sized Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan, which achieved an astounding $7.2 million, a new world auction record for any female artist of the pre-modern era. Painted in the summer of 1788 and exhibited at the Salon of 1789, when political unrest had begun to boil in France, the work stands today as a symbolic testament to the relationship between Pre-Revolutionary France and India.

Fede Galizia, A Glass Compote with Peaches, Jasmine Flowers, Quinces, and a Grasshopper, oil on panel.

Works from The Female Triumphant established additional auction records for Fede Galizia, Angelika Kauffmann, and Giulia Lama. A pioneer of the still life genre, which she helped invent in the early 17th-century, Fede Galizia’s A Glass Compote with Peaches, Jasmine Flowers, Quinces, and a Grasshopper (Lot 42) achieved $2.4 million (estimate $2/3 million). Although she produced fewer than 20 refined, naturalistic still life compositions on panel, these works inspired followers in her lifetime and are now considered her most important paintings.

One of the wealthiest families in England, the young generation of Spencers likely depicted in Angelika Kauffmann’s Portrait of Three Children (Lot 52), sold for $915,000, surpassing its high estimate of $800,000. One of the most cultured and influential women of her generation, Angelika Kauffmann holds a place of particular importance in European art history as one of only two female founding members of the Royal Academy.

The full press release is available here

More information about Le Brun’s Portrait of Muhammad Dervish Khan is available here

At Sotheby’s | Jewels Owned by Marie Antoinette

Posted in Art Market by Editor on October 2, 2018

Press release, via Art Daily, for the auction at Sotheby’s:

Royal Jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family
Sotheby’s, Geneva, 14 November 2018, Sale GE1809

Natural pearl and diamond pendant, 18th century; set with an oval diamond supporting a diamond bow motif and a slightly baroque drop-shaped natural pearl measuring approximately 16 × 18 × 26mm, hook and hinged back fitting. Estimated at $1–2 million.

Sotheby’s unveiled additional highlights from one of the most important royal jewellery collections ever to be presented at auction. On 14 November 2018, in Geneva, royal jewels from the Bourbon Parma Family will be offered at auction for the first time, including treasures which belonged to France’s ill-fated queen, Marie Antoinette (1755–1793). During an international tour of public exhibitions in the coming weeks, jewellery lovers will be able to view these historic jewels, which carry with them more than 200 years of European history.

An initial announcement in June captured the world’s imagination, when it was revealed that Sotheby’s would offer this extraordinary collection of treasures in Geneva. The sale includes pieces which can be traced back to Marie Antoinette led by an extraordinary diamond and natural pearl pendant estimated at $1–2 million, as well treasures from her brother-in-law, King Charles X of France (1757–1836), the Archdukes of Austria and the Dukes of Parma.

Jewels of Marie Antoinette

Never in the course of history has the destiny of a queen been so closely associated with jewels than that of Marie Antoinette. Her great love of pearls and diamonds is well-known and a number of historians have cited Napoleon’s view, that the so-called affair of the diamond necklace’—a scandal which tarnished the queen’s reputation in 1785—was one of the causes of the French Revolution.

The impressive ensemble of jewels to be offered this autumn has an extraordinary story. In March 1791, King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and their children began to prepare their escape from France. According to accounts written by Marie Antoinette’s lady in waiting, Madame Campan, the queen spent an entire evening in the Tuileries Palace wrapping all of her diamonds, rubies, and pearls in cotton and placing them in a wooden chest. In the following days, the jewels were sent to Brussels, which was under the rule of the queen’s sister, Archduchess Marie-Christine and which was home to Count Mercy Argentau. The count, the former Austrian Ambassador to Paris, was one of the only men who had retained the queen’s trust. It was he who took delivery of the jewels and sent them on to Vienna, into the safe keeping of the Austrian Emperor, Marie Antoinette’s nephew.

Altogether, the collection includes 10 jewels which belonged to Marie Antoinette.

In 1792, the royal family was imprisoned in the Temple tower. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed by guillotine in 1793 and their 10-year old son, Louis XVII, died in captivity. The king and queen’s only surviving child, Marie-Thérèse de France (1778–1851), ‘Madame Royale’, was released in December 1795, after three years of solitary confinement. After learning of the deaths of her mother and brother, she was sent to Austria. Upon her arrival in Vienna in 1796, she was given her mother’s jewels by her cousin, the emperor. Having borne no children of her own, Madame Royale bequeathed part of her jewellery collection to her niece and adopted daughter, Louise of France (1819–1864), Duchess of Parma and grand-daughter of Charles X, King of France (1757–1836), who in turn left them to her son, Robert I (1848–1907), the last ruling Duke of Parma.

In addition to the exquisite pearl jewels announced in June, several more pearl jewels to be offered in November belonged to Marie Antoinette, including a beautiful pair of natural pearl and diamond earrings (estimate $200,000–300,000). Also from Marie Antoinette is a superb single-strand natural pearl necklace (estimate $40,000–70,000).

A beautiful six-strand pearl necklace also provides a direct link to the iconic queen of France. Its clasp—which remains unaltered today—was part of her collection and features five large and 18 smaller natural pearls. In Marie Antoinette’s day, it formed the clasp of a six-row natural pearl bracelet, one of a pair. The necklace was commissioned by later generations of the Bourbon Parma family and strung with cultured pearls (estimate $5,000–8,000).

Five fascinating diamond jewels to be auctioned in November can be traced back to Marie Antoinette. Among them is a stunning diamond brooch from the late 18th century, featuring a beautiful yellow diamond. The double ribbon bow was formerly part of Marie Antoinette’s collection, and it is thought that the yellow diamond pendant was added at a later date (estimate CHF $50,000–80,000).

Created as a memento, a diamond ring bearing initials ‘MA’ for Marie Antoinette and containing a lock of her hair provides a fascinatingly intimate link to the queen. It is offered together with a ring with the monogram and hair of her father-in-law, Louis, Dauphin of France (1729–1765) who died before he could ascend the throne, and a diamond plaque bearing the monogram ‘MT’ set in diamonds, which refers to Marie-Thérèse of Savoie (1803–1879), Duchess of Parma and wife of Charles II, Duke of Parma (estimate for the two rings and plaque: $20,000–50,000).

By family tradition, the diamonds adorning this beautiful brooch belonged to Marie Antoinette. In her detailed inventory of the family’s jewels, Maria Anna of Austria (1882–1940), explains she was informed of the history of the brooch by her father-in-law, Robert I of Parma (1848–1907), who presented it to her on the occasion of her engagement to his son, Elie de Bourbon Parme (1880–1959) (estimate $95,000–140,000).

Also passed down through generations of Marie Antoinette’s descendants is a diamond ring decorated with her portrait, made in the late 18th century. In her will, Marie Antoinette’s daughter, Marie Thérèse de France (also known as Madame Royale), mentions that the portrait, which is set within a frame of pearls, is a likeness of her mother (estimate $8,000–12,000).

Marie Antoinette’s passion for Jewellery also extended to fine watches, as is evidenced by a pocket watch. Although the movement of the watch has been changed, its case—in blue enamel and encrusted with pearls—belonged to the queen. It bears the initials ‘M.A.’ on the inside of the case, along with three fleur de lys motifs (estimate $1,000–2,000).

Additional Jewels from the French Royal Family

The collection is also highlighted by jewels that belonged to King Charles X (1757–1836), the last King of France and last of the Bourbon rulers, his son, the Duke of Angoulême and their descendants. Resolutely conservative, accused by his own brother Louis XVI of being “plus royaliste que le roi” (more royalist than the king), Charles X revived a number of orders of chivalry that had been abolished during the French revolution and under Napoleon’s rule.

A breathtaking diamond tiara (estimate $350,000–550,000) offers a fascinating insight into how precious objects were disassembled in order to retrieve diamonds and gemstones, so they could be re-used as fashions evolved. The diamonds that adorn the tiara came from a badge of the Royal Order of the Holy Spirit, a French order of chivalry founded by King Henri III in 1578. The insignia was originally owned by Charles X, Marie Antoinette’s brother-in-law. The diamonds later passed to Robert I, Duke of Parma (1848–1907). The tiara was created using the precious stones around 1912 for Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (1882–1940) by the celebrated Vienna jeweller Hübner, who designed it to allow the wearer to explore different styles: the fleur de lys motifs of this stunning piece can be detached and worn separately as brooches. The frame of Charles X’s order, which originally held the diamonds, has remained in the family and will also be offered in November (estimate $150-300).

Extraordinary in its workmanship and powerful symbolism, this jeweled badge of the Order of the Golden Fleece belonged to Louis Antoine of Bourbon, Duke of Angoulême (1775–1844), who married Marie-Antoinette’s daughter, his cousin. The Order of the Golden Fleece is widely considered to be the most prestigious and exclusive order of chivalry in the world. It is likely that Louis Antoine received the badge following his participation in the Spanish Expedition of 1823, thanks to which his cousin, Ferdinand of Bourbon was restored as absolute king of Spain. A sumptuous example of the order’s symbol, beneath a large white diamond this badge features the traditional French royal symbol, the oriflamme, represented by a central sapphire, surrounded by flames composed of rubies. The fleece of the ram forms the lower part of the jewel, realized in gold and diamonds (estimate $300,000–400,000).

Boasting the same extraordinary provenance, this plaque of the Royal Order of the Holy Spirit (right) was awarded to Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême before being passed down through the generations to Robert I, son of Charles III of Parma and Louise de France (and Marie Antoinette’s great-nephew). The most prestigious French order of chivalry during its 252 years of existence (1578–1830), it was abolished during the French Revolution, and then revived by Charles X who restored the ceremonies of the Order. The loop at the top of the badge (adorned with baguette- and round-cut diamonds) was designed so that the order could be worn on a tie without having to alter the jewel (estimate $100,000–150,000).

Royal Treasures of Austria

Sumptuous jewels passed down through the Bourbon Parma family from the imperial family of Austria will also be offered in November. A beautiful Burmese ruby and diamond set, composed of a brooch and a pair of earrings, dates from the turn of the last century. It conjures up images of the glamour and elegance of the Austrian court. Originally part of the collection of Queen Isabella II of Spain (1830–1904), the set was later purchased by Archduke and Archduchess Frédéric of Austria and inherited by their daughter, Maria Anna, Archduchess of Austria (1882–1940), who mentions it in her inventory of the family jewels (estimate $150,000–250,000).

A diamond bow brooch from the 18th century also stands out among the jewels from the Austrian side of the Bourbon-Parma family. It originally belonged to Empress Marie Thérèse of Austria (1717–1780), Marie Antoinette’s mother, and later to Archduke Rainier of Austria (1827–1913) before passing down through the family to Maria Anna. Its intricate design and workmanship illustrate the quality of jewels created for the royal family (estimate $75,000–110,000).

In her inventory, Maria Anna recorded that this delightful diamond brooch, with a yellow sapphire in its centre, originally belonged to her mother, Princess Isabella of Croÿ (1856–1931) (estimate $40,000–65,000). Maria Anna received these simple yet elegant diamond earrings from her father, Archduke Frédéric, on the occasion of her wedding in 1903 (estimate $50,000–80,000).

Tour Dates

Munich | 18 September
Hong Kong | 28 September – 2 October
Dubai | 7–9 October
New York | 12–16 October
London | 20–22 October
Singapore | 26–27 October
Taipei | 30–31 October

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Note (added 15 November 2018) — The pearl pendant, estimated to sell for up to $2million, fetched an extraordinary $36millon. The ten pieces auctioned reached a total of $42.7 million against a pre-sale estimate of $1.6–2.9 million. The post sale press release is available here.

 

London Art Week, Summer 2018 / Painting by Joseph Wright

Posted in Art Market by Editor on July 5, 2018

Joseph Wright of Derby, Portrait of a Young Boy with a Drum, inscribed with the letter ‘R’, ca. 1780, oil on canvas, 28 × 36 inches / 70 × 91 cm
(Courtesy Ben Elwes Fine Art)

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Press release for London Art Week, via Art Daily:

London Art Week, Summer 2018
28 June — 6 July 2018

A major rediscovery from the mature period of Joseph Wright of Derby is among many important paintings being unveiled at London Art Week Summer 2018, open now through Friday 6 July at forty galleries across Mayfair and St. James’s. Presented by Ben Elwes Fine Art, the painting by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734–1797) depicts a young boy with a drum and a landscape beyond. It shows the artist’s virtuosity as a masterful and empathetic portrait painter—he excelled at children—and a superb landscape artist. It dates from around 1780, a period, following Wright’s return from an Italian soujourn in 1775, when his art, across genres, brimmed with confidence.

Antonacci Lapiccirella Fine Art (new LAW participants from Rome) is exhibiting a sensational rediscovery of a work famed in art history circles; a painting by Antonio Canova thought to have been lost for two centuries. In a daring trick played by Canova on the greatest artists in Rome, he presented Self-Portrait of Giorgione to his peers as an original by the revered Venetian 16th-century painter. Whist all acclaimed it as a truth, a year later Canova announced that he himself had painted the portrait as a practical joke.

Maurizio Nobile, from Bologna, presents an extraordinary discovery, a large altar-piece by Gaetano Gandolfi (1734–1802) of The Holy Family and Saint Augustine dated 1761. Scholars were only aware of the existence of the work thanks to a photo published in the monograph dedicated to the painter by D. Biagi Maino (Turin, 1995). For the first time, this painting can be viewed by the public at large.

Further highlights among paintings offered at London Art Week include:

• At Colnaghi: A rarely-seen depiction of Saint Francis by Doménikos Theotokópoulos, known as El Greco (1541–1614). The Stigmatisation of Saint Francis is a powerful and dramatic composition which was first published in 1908, and last seen in public in 1999 at the major show on the artist held at Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.

• At Martyn Gregory: A rare view of China by William Daniell RA (1769–1837), the most important rediscovery in Daniell’s oeuvre for fifty years.

• At Robilant+Voena: A rare, signed, full-length male portrait of Antoine de Ville, a military engineer, by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–c1654) one of the most highly regarded female artists of the Baroque. This work is a very important addition to the few portraits known in the oeuvre of this 17th-century artist who is famed mainly for her powerful depictions of Old Testament heroines, though contemporary sources testify that she was also celebrated for her portraits.

• At The Weiss Gallery: A rare Friesland School early Dutch portrait of a young boy aged three, painted 1603, is one of the earliest examples of a portrait incorporating a kolf club, used to hit a stuffed leather ball in the Dutch game of het kolven, an early form of golf.

London Art Week, Summer 2018 / Launch of Tomasso XXV

Posted in Art Market, books, museums by Editor on June 17, 2018

From London Art Week:

London Art Week, Summer 2018
28 June — 6 July 2018

London Art Week is a twice-yearly event, offering the best of pre-contemporary art in London’s traditional fine art district. From Ancient sculptures to Old Master drawings and post-Impressionist paintings, London Art Week offers visitors the chance to see, and buy, extraordinary works. For seasoned collectors as well as those simply curious to learn more about art, London Art Week dealers are always on hand and delighted to share their knowledge and expertise. Talks and events are scheduled throughout the week, delivered by some of the UK’s most distinguished art historians and curators. There is no tent: visitors have the luxury of discovering masterpieces within our beautiful gallery spaces, all situated within walking distance.

From the press release for Tomasso Brothers Fine Art:

Catalogue Launch of Tomasso XXV: A Celebration of Notable Sales
Tomasso Brothers, London, 28 June — 6 July 2018

For the summer edition of London Art Week 2018, Tomasso Brothers Fine Art is proud to present a new publication, Tomasso XXV, a celebratory catalogue marking the many notable sales made in 25 years of activity. London Art Week runs from 29 June to 6 July 2018, and copies will be available at Marquis House, 67 Jermyn Street, St. James’s, the London gallery of Tomasso Brothers.

The catalogue features more than 50 works ranging from bronze sculptures to oil paintings, and dating from antiquity to the late Neoclassical periods, demonstrating the breadth and quality of works sold by Tomasso Brothers to museums and private collectors the world over. Tomasso Brothers Fine Art is recognised internationally for specializing in important European sculpture, thus works in wood, terracotta, marble, and bronze feature prominently; however, Dino and Raffaello Tomasso are also passionate about fields such as Old Master paintings and objets d’art, represented here by fabulous examples.

The historic sales illustrated in the catalogue range from distinctive sketches, such as Joseph Nollekens’s (1737–1823) terracotta rendering of a pensiero of Eve Bewailing the Death of Abel, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, to rare bronzes, such as the Pacing Bull from a ‘Rape of Europa’ group, executed in Padua around 1520–25, re-united with its original figure of Europa thanks to Tomasso Brothers, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; and from the powerful, such as the triumphant Julius Caesar carved in limewood by Giambologna (1529–1608), a statuette now known to be not only the earliest recorded work by the master but also the only surviving sculpture that he executed in wood (today in a private collection, Antwerp), to the intimate, such as Nymph Entering a Bath by Richard James Wyatt (1795–1850) one of the foremost British heirs of Canova, which sold last year from Tomasso Brothers’ Canova and his Legacy exhibition to the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven.

Other highlights in the catalogue are a pair of portraits by the master of miniatures Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702–1789) depicting Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720–1788) and Prince Henry Benedict Stuart (1725–1807) which, subsequent to their presentation and sale (to a private collection, Germany) by Tomasso Brothers at TEFAF 2015, were shown in the Liotard exhibition at London’s Royal Academy, 2015/2016; a white marble Farnese type bust of Emperor Caracalla by Joseph Claus (1718–1788), a milestone in the development of early Neoclassicism in Rome and a signature work by one of the most accomplished German sculptors of the eighteenth century, now with the Saint Louis Art Museum; and a high-relief, boxwood panel by Grinling Gibbons (1648–1721), a magnificent demonstration of sculptural bravura on a reduced scale and one of the earliest known works by Gibbons, who is widely considered to be Britain’s greatest woodcarver. As attested by the presence of the coat of arms of the Barwick family from Yorkshire, which is visible on a harp in the foreground, the panel, likely carved in York (where Gibbons trained under John Etty after arriving from Rotterdam around 1667) now resides at Fairfax House Museum, York, United Kingdom.

The catalogue also illustrates some major rediscoveries by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, including The Triumph of Autumn by Jacob Hoefnagel (1573–1632/35), an exquisite oil on copper, signed and dated 1605, painted in Rome for the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (1552–1612), and The Death of Saint Peter Martyr by Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo (c.1480–c.1548), a protagonist of Venetian Renaissance painting, renowned for the hushed brilliance of his palette and uniquely atmospheric quality of his compositions, now in the Art Institute of Chicago.