At Sotheby’s | Canaletto Drawing Sets New Auction Record

Posted in Art Market by Editor on July 13, 2019

Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto (1697–1768), The Presentation of the Doge in San Marco, ca. 1766–67, pen and brown ink and three shades of grey wash, heightened with touches of (partly oxidised) white over black chalk, within original brown ink framing lines, 38 × 55 cm.

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From the press release (and the catalogue entry), via Art Daily:

On 3 July 2019, at Sotheby’s Old Master and British Works on Paper Sale (L19040), a rare drawing by Canaletto (Lot 338) realised £3.1m/ $3.9m, setting a new auction record for a drawing by the artist. A superbly preserved pen and brown ink drawing, The Presentation of the Doge in San Marco belongs to a highly original series of twelve depictions of the ceremonies and festival of Doges, the Feste Ducali, the majority of which now reside in museums around the world. The drawing is a masterpiece in the art of perspective and, though unusual in the artist’s canon of work, is definitive of his genius.

Imposing in scale and composition, totally engaging in terms of narrative, and brilliantly accomplished in its virtuosic lighting and handling of the media, this superbly preserved drawing ranks among the greatest that Canaletto (1697–1768) ever made. It belongs to a highly original series of twelve depictions of the ceremonies and festivals of the Doges, the Feste Ducali, conceived in the first instance as drawings, but made specifically to be engraved. Ten of the drawings are known today—four of them in the British Museum, two in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., and the remainder elsewhere [1]. This is only the second drawing from this extraordinary series to appear at auction since 1974, when two were offered for sale at Sotheby’s, from the collection of Eva, Countess of Rosebery [2].

Though Canaletto’s drawings and paintings are often very accurate renderings of specific locations—frequently made, one would assume, at the request of one of the artist’s illustrious noble patrons—images like these of actual historical events are relatively rare in his work. Yet he clearly relished the opportunities offered by the subjects of this series of depictions of ceremonies and pageants—fundamental to the Venetian spirit—and the compositions that he produced for this series are among his most original and inventive. In this work, the first in the series, we see the newly elected Doge being presented to the crowds for the first time in the grandiose interior of Saint Mark’s Basilica. Or rather, we see what is clearly an important ceremony going on, and somewhere in the middle of it we know the Doge, and this important moment, is to be found. Yet in fact, it is not the Doge himself and his presentation that is the subject here; it is the famous and elaborate interior of St. Mark’s, it is Venice, her life, and her people. As Peter Kerber so aptly wrote in the catalogue of the recent Getty Museum exhibition on depictions of historical moments in the 18th century, “The Doge is but a tiny figure… the true protagonist of this and the other depictions in the series is the Serene Republic, embodied by its rituals and traditions” [3].

Drawing, perhaps, on what he had learned early in life from his theatrical scene-designer father, Canaletto has here constructed his composition so as to maximise the impact and drama of the scene. Both in scale and in compositional complexity, this is one of the most ambitious of all the artist’s drawings, and it is highly unusual in being an interior scene. Perhaps understandably, given how central light and water clearly were to Canaletto’s art, he painted only a tiny handful of interior scenes, and almost all of those depict the rich and mysterious interior of St. Mark’s, with its abundant gilded mosaics and flickering light effects (the other interior that Canaletto painted, twice, was that of the Ranaleagh Rotunda in London) [4]. Two paintings, one of them part of the unrivalled collection of Canaletto’s works amassed by Consul Joseph Smith, and subsequently sold to King George III, the other in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, are views taken from much the same location as the present drawing, though slightly further to the right [5]. A third painting, also in the Royal Collection, is a view from the south transept towards the north, across the pulpit [6]. Canaletto used the latter viewpoint in making at least three drawings, one of them the very moving, highly finished drawing in Hamburg, on which the artist wrote, with feeling, that he had made it at the age of 68, without using his glasses, in the year 1766–67—the same moment, late in his career, when he executed the present work. A much sketchier drawing in the Robert Lehman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art shows a small detail of the view seen here [8]. Otherwise, his only significant drawings of interiors seem to be the scene depicting The Doge giving thanks to the Maggior Consiglio in the same series as the present work (British Museum) [9], and the Interior of a Circular Building, in a private collection [10].

Canaletto was fascinated by the captivating atmosphere and light effects to be found in the interior of St. Mark’s, and the artist has here maximised the theatrical potential of his subject, using the deep recession and dramatic contrasts of light and shade within the famous church’s elaborate nave to the greatest possible effect, and filling it with an infinite variety of animated figures, so eager to see the proceedings that they have to be held back by ushers with sticks. More figures fill the galleries above the aisle arcades, teetering perilously over the long drop down to the floor below. All these figures are brilliantly rendered with minimalist penstrokes and vibrant highlights, whose motion the artist has hardly managed to arrest. You can almost hear the hubbub of excited conversation. Everything in this wonderfully rich image speaks of an essentially Venetian wit and lightness of being, from the brilliance of the architecture and the lighting to the animation of the endlessly varied figures, who seem about to step onto the stage for a popular theatre production.

The exact origin and chronology of this joy-filled series of drawings is unclear, but they surely originate from a major commission, seemingly the last such instruction that Canaletto received. The compositions exist in the form of drawings by Canaletto, prints by Giovanni Battista Brustolon which credit the designs to Canaletto, and paintings by Guardi, as well as through various other painted and drawn copies. This has given rise, over the years, to much discussion of which set of images came first and whether there were originally also paintings of these subjects by Canaletto, but the consensus is now that the initial commission was for Canaletto to produce drawings that would then be engraved by Brustolon, and that subsequently, probably around 1775, Guardi was asked to make a series of paintings, now in the collections of the Louvre, based on these prints [11]. Eight of the prints were announced for sale—though not yet actually printed—by the publisher, Lodovico Furlanetto, in March 1766, and four months later, in July, he obtained permission to extend the series to twelve plates [12]. There is no way of knowing exactly how much earlier than this the drawings were made, but one of them, The Doge Attends the Giovedi Grasso Festival in the Piazzetta, now in Washington [13], includes the arms of the Doge Alvise Mocenigo IV, who was elected in 1763; so it seems reasonable to assume that the drawings were all made some time between then and 1766, and in the case of those compositions that show events specific to the election of the Doge, rather than annual festivities, that they were based on Canaletto’s first hand observation of the festivities following the election of 1763.

Though the full series of the Feste Ducali prints consists of twelve compositions, drawings by Canaletto are only known for ten of them. These ten sheets were discovered in a bookseller’s in Venice (very probably the premises of the publisher Furlanetto himself), by Sir Richard Colt Hoare sometime between 1787 and 1789, when the dealer Giovanni Maria Sasso described them to Sir Abraham Hume, noting that they were as fine as any paintings [14]. Hoare proudly took the ten drawings back to Stourhead, in Wiltshire, where for the next century or so they were hung, as a set, over a fireplace in the library; a delightful watercolour, executed around 1808–13 by Francis Nicholson (1753–1844), shows the interior of the library, with Richard Colt Hoare seated at a table [15]. (The library must, however, have been kept very dark, as the drawings remain even today in outstandingly good, fresh condition.) In 1883, much of the contents of Stourhead were dispersed at auction, and the Canalettos were included in that sale, but this drawing and one other [16] were bought back by a family member, thereby remaining in the hands of the Hoare family until sold to the present owner a few years ago. The drawing has therefore only changed hands three times since its creation and has not been seen on the auction market since 1883.

Although the series of drawings to which this work belongs was executed late in Canaletto’s career (no dated work is known from after 1766–67, and he died only two years later), they are none the less all full of the vibrant, optimistic energy of the artist’s drawings from much earlier periods, yet given an added resonance by the historical subject-matter that ostensibly provides the focus for each scene. As already mentioned, although Canaletto did occasionally depict real historical events, as in the splendid painting of around 1735, The Doge Visiting the Church and Scuola di San Rocco, in the National Gallery, London [18], the vast majority of his paintings and drawings—even the most specifically topographical—are not linked to any particular moment. Indeed, the narrative content in this series of the festivals of the Doges is unparalleled in any other project undertaken by the artist, but the application of his extraordinary pictorial skills to this somewhat unfamiliar type of composition simply serves to add yet more layers of potential excitement and satisfaction for the viewer. All the visual riches of more typical masterpieces such as the capriccio Terrace and Loggia of a Palace on the Lagoon in the Royal Collection (a star of the recent Canaletto exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery, London [19]) are also abundantly present in the drawing now under discussion, but here they are interacting in a wonderful way with another, entirely different, realm of content and expression.

It is hard to imagine a more total expression of the essence of Canaletto’s genius as a draughtsman than this extraordinary drawing, which transports us to the very heart of 18th-century Venice, in all its glory, wit, and mystery. That it was loved and cherished for so long by one of the greatest families of English cognoscenti is the final piece in the jigsaw of elements that together make this by one of the two most important drawings by Canaletto to have come to the market in recent decades—and one of the most illuminating and enlightening, as well as one of the most visually exciting and satisfying, that he ever made.

Earlier in the sale, a newly-discovered 16th-century work by Rosso Fiorentino sold for £471,000 / $592,047, also setting a new record for a work on paper by the Italian Mannerist. Long thought lost, The Visitation is an extremely rare example of a chalk drawing by Rosso and the first compositional study by the artist to appear on the market for half a century. Although Rosso must have executed many drawings in his lifetime, almost all of his graphic works have been lost over the centuries and this work adds significantly to the understanding of the working method of an artist known for his eccentricity, and expressive, unconventional pictorial style.

1. W. G. Constable and J. G. Links, Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697–1768), 3rd edition, (Oxford, 1989), vol. II, pp. 525–32, nos. 630–39.
2. Constable/Links nos. 636 and 637, sold, London, Sotheby’s, 11 December 1974, lots 10 and 11, and no. 632, sold, London, Sotheby’s, 5 July 2017, lot 44.
3. Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe, exhibition catalogue (Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum/Minneapolis Institute of Art/Cleveland Museum of Art, 2017–18), p. 15.
4. One of these paintings, dating from 1754, is in the National Gallery, London, the other in a private collection; see Constable/Links, nos. 420 and 421.
5. Constable/Links, nos. 79 and 78 respectively.
6. Ibid., no. 77.
7. Ibid., no. 558.
8. Ibid., no. 561.
9. London, British Museum, inv. 1910,0212.20, Constable/Links, no. 63.
10. Not in Constable/Links, but included by Alessandro Bettagno, in the 1982 exhibition, Canaletto: Disegni-Dipinti-Incisioni, at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, no. 73.
11. The twelve paintings by Guardi are all in the collections of the Louvre, but three of them are on deposit in museums elsewhere (in Brussels, Grenoble and Nantes).
12. Constable/Links, pp. 525–26, citing earlier sources.
13. Ibid, no. 636.
14. Ibid, p. 527.
15. In the collection of the National Trust, inv. 730813.
16. Ibid, no. 632.
17. The latest known dated drawing is the view of the interior of St. Mark’s, Venice, now in the Hamburg Kunsthalle; Constable/Links no. 558.
18. Inv. no. NG937.
19. Constable/Links, no. 821; Rosie Razzall and Lucy Whitaker, Canaletto & the Art of Venice, exhibition catalogue (London, The Queen’s Gallery, 2017), no. 138.

At Sotheby’s | Treasures from Chatsworth: The Exhibition

Posted in Art Market, exhibitions by Editor on June 28, 2019

Thomas Smith, View of Chatsworth from the Southwest, 1740–44, oil on canvas

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From Chatsworth:

Treasures from Chatsworth: The Exhibition
Sotheby’s New York, 28 June — 18 September 2019

Highlights from the Devonshire Collection have made their way to New York as part of Sotheby’s Treasures from Chatsworth: The Exhibition, open from 28 June to 18 September 2019 at Sotheby’s New York. Forty-three masterworks were selected to represent the remarkable breadth of the Devonshire Collection—fine art from Rembrandt van Rijn to Lucian Freud, furniture and decorative objects from the 16th century to 21st-century design, and exceptional jewels, garments, and archival materials commemorating historic occasions will all be on view.

Coinciding with Sotheby’s 275th anniversary, as well as the opening of the expanded and reimagined New York galleries, Treasures from Chatsworth is designed by the award-winning creative director David Korins, whose work includes the set designs for the Broadway musical phenomena Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen, as well as past Sotheby’s exhibitions.

Presenting Treasures from Chatsworth in America is a step towards realising our ambition to share the Devonshire Collection with the world and a wonderful opportunity to engage new audiences with the stories of Chatsworth and the work of the Chatsworth House Trust. To help meet this ambition, Chatsworth in America, Inc—a US non-profit corporation—has been set up by and for Americans with an interest in the historic significance of Chatsworth. You can support Chatsworth in America as a US taxpayer with a tax deductible donation.

From Sotheby’s:

Inspired by Chatsworth: A Selling Exhibition
Sotheby’s New York, 28 June — 18 September 2019

Inspired by Chatsworth: A Selling Exhibition will present a carefully curated group of artworks and objects of exceptional quality that draw inspiration from the country-house aesthetic, as exemplified by the magnificent collection assembled by the Dukes of Devonshire over centuries at Chatsworth. On view alongside Treasures from Chatsworth: The Exhibition, the private selling exhibition will be on display in the newly expanded and reimagined galleries at Sotheby’s New York. The exhibitions will be open simultaneously and their visual parallel will provide the opportunity to celebrate collecting and collectors, of which Chatsworth and the Cavendish family are amongst the greatest examples in history. Inspired by Chatsworth: A Selling Exhibition will also provide today’s collectors with the opportunity to begin or enrich their collections with works of outstanding quality in the Chatsworth taste.

At Sotheby’s | Old Masters Evening Sale

Posted in Art Market by Editor on June 28, 2019

Thomas Gainsborough, Going to Market, Early Morning, oil on canvas, 122 × 147 cm (lot 22, estimate £7–9 million).

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Press release, via Art Daily:

Old Masters Evening Sale (Sale L19033)
Sotheby’s, London, 3 July 2019

This summer, Sotheby’s will present a roll-call of the greatest names in Western art history at its flagship Old Masters Evening Sale (L19033) on 3 July in London. With an overall estimate of £4665.9m/ $59.5–83.7m, the sale next week is one of the strongest sales ever staged in this category, both in value as well as in the quality of works on offer. From some of the finest works by the three key British landscape painters remaining in private hands, to masterpieces and newly discovered works by Renaissance and Baroque masters, the sale features works by the biggest household names spanning six centuries.

British Landscapes

Thomas Gainsborough, Going to Market, Early Morning, estimate £7–9 million

Going to Market, Early Morning (lot 22) is unquestionably one of Gainsborough’s finest masterpieces remaining in private hands, and one of the finest eighteenth-century British landscapes by any artist ever to likely come to market. Painted in 1773 it is one of an important group of three major landscapes Gainsborough painted at this period that deals with the subject of travellers going to or returning from market. The subject and composition of the picture demonstrates Gainsborough’s natural affinity with, and sympathy for the rural poor and includes one of his favourite themes—rustic lovers in an idealised rural setting. Beautifully evoking the early morning journey to market of rural folk as they rise out of the still misty valley into the watery sunlight, this painting acclaimed by scholars and widely praised is one of the artist’s most ravishing landscapes.

John Constable, Study for ‘The White Horse’, estimate £2–3 million

A rare and important compositional study for one of the most celebrated paintings of the English Romantic Movement: The White Horse, which now resides at The Frick Collection in New York. The painting that launched John Constable’s career, The White Horse was the first of Constable’s great ‘Six-Footers’ which cemented the artist’s contemporary fame and which defined his art for generations. Created in 1819, the painting was immediately a critical success and led to the artist being voted an Associate of the Royal Academy the same year. Unlike most of Constable’s major landscapes, for which he produced numerous sketches and went through several drafts before settling upon the final composition, only a small number of preparatory works relating to The White Horse are known. Possibly painted en plein air, the oil sketch shows Constable responding directly to the landscape, capturing the atmosphere of the River Stour, as well as the topographical detail.

J.M.W. Turner, Landscape with Walton Bridges, estimate £4–6 million

One of a small group of ten or so proto-impressionist late pictures by the artist left in private hands, Landscape with Walton Bridges comes to the market for the first time in over 35 years. The central motif—Walton Bridges—is one that the artist had treated twice before in oils, in 1806 and 1807. Clearly a subject with significant meaning to him, in this work he sets the bridge in an idealised, Italianate landscape of his own imagining. Essentially explorations of the effects of light, Turner created the late works for himself, rather than for exhibition or for sale, retaining them for the development of his art. With their bold application of colour, their treatment of light and their deconstruction of form, these late works revolutionised the way the painted image was perceived and are considered to be the artist’s supreme achievement, and the pictures upon which his artistic significance ultimately rest.

J.M.W. Turner, Sun-rise. Whiting Fishing at Margate, 1822, estimate £800,000–1.2 million (part of the Old Master & British Works on Paper Sale)

A celebrated picture which sees the artist working at the height of his powers and on a grand scale, Sun-rise. Whiting Fishing at Margate is one the greatest and most beautiful Turner watercolours to remain in private hands. Positioning himself off the Kentish coast at Margate, a town he had first visited as a small boy and which he regularly returned to throughout his life, Turner looks east in this painting, directly into a mesmeric sunrise, whose magical light gives warmth to everything it touches, before exploding into a myriad of colours on the glass-like surface of the sea. On the left, far in the distance, a guardship announces the dawn by firing its morning gun, while in the foreground, fishermen have already struck lucky and are excitedly hauling in a plentiful catch. Through the cluster of small vessels, the town itself can be made out.

New Discoveries

Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez, Portrait of Olimpia Maidalchini Pamphilj, estimate £2 –3 million

Lost for nearly 300 years, this is the hitherto missing portrait of Donna Olimpia Maidalchini Pamphilj (1591–1657), the most powerful woman in 17th-century Rome. Sister-in-law, reputed lover, and puppet master of Pope Innocent X, Olimpia controlled all aspects of Vatican life. Arguably one of the earliest feminists, this formidable woman, centuries ahead of her time, ruled in all but name as the de facto Pope, taking control of one of the most powerful and male dominated institutions in European history. Once part of the illustrious collection of the 7th Marques del Carpio, one of the greatest patrons and collectors of arts in 17th-century Italy, this painting was last recorded in 1724, before it disappeared without trace. The whereabouts of the painting remained completely unknown until one day, an unattributed work, sold in the 1980s as ‘anonymous Dutch school’, was brought into Sotheby’s Amsterdam office. An intriguing old cypher hidden on the back of the painting prompted Sotheby’s specialists to begin a process of research and discovery—all of which ultimately led to the realisation that this striking portrait was the long-lost original by Velázquez and one of only a handful of paintings by the great Spanish artist left in private hands.

Giovanni Battista di Jacopo Rosso, called Rosso Fiorentino, The Visitation, estimate £500,000–700,000 (part of the Old Master & British Works on Paper Sale)

This newly discovered 16th-century work by the Italian Mannerist painter is an extremely rare example of a chalk drawing by Rosso Fiorentino, and the first compositional study by the artist to appear on the market for half a century. Long thought lost, it is an important and vital addition to the artist’s corpus of drawings. Delicately executed in black chalk, the ten-figure composition was created by Rosso on the request of Aretine painter Giovanni Antonio Lappoli, who had been granted in 1524 a commission for a private altarpiece for the family chapel of the wealthy Aretine citizen, Cipriano d’Anghiari.

Although Rosso must have executed many drawings in his lifetime, almost all of his graphic works have been lost over the centuries and this work adds significantly to the understanding of the working method of an artist known for his eccentricity, and expressive, unconventional pictorial style. Interestingly, the work, which stayed undetected in the same collection since the 18th century, bears on the verso an old attribution to Michelangelo (probably from the 17th century), which may have contributed to the fact that the work is even now, still in excellent condition.

Baroque Pictures

Jusepe de Ribera, Girl with a Tambourine, estimate £5–7 million

One of Ribera’s most celebrated paintings, this arresting depiction of a girl singing a tune while tapping a tambourine embodies his extraordinary powers of expressive characterisation. Probably one of five works originally depicting the five senses, Girl with a tambourine encapsulates Ribera’s inimitable contribution to the imagery of music-making by merging allegory and genre, as well as portraiture, into one remarkable image. Dated to 1637, this painting also features the artist’s characteristic loyalty to his Spanish roots, signed ‘Ribera español’

Peter Paul Rubens, Head of a Young Warrior, estimate £2.5–3.5 million

Painted in the early 1610s, Head of a Young Warrior shows Rubens in complete control of his medium, his brush, and his subject. The characteristically vivacious and energetic study was most likely kept in the artist’s studio as a prop throughout his life for use in larger compositions, including his painting of Saint Ambrosius of Milan Barring Emperor Theodosius from Entering the Cathedral in Milan, painted ca. 1615–17, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

Johann Liss, The Temptation of Saint Mary Magdalene, estimate £4–6 million

One of the finest examples of the artist’s work to remain in private hands, this captivating depiction of the Magdalene choosing Salvation over Temptation marks Liss as one of the most fascinating painters of the entire 17th century. The painting sees the artist add a personal twist to the traditional iconography of the penitent Magdalene, portraying her turning away from worldly temptation towards an angel in a design that recalls traditional Netherlandish renderings of the Choice between Vice and Virtue.

Joachim Antonisz Wtewael, Diana and Actaeon, estimate £4–6 million

Joachim Antonisz Wtewael was the supreme exponent of the last great phase of mannerist painting in northern Europe and the most important in the Netherlands of mythological cabinet pieces painted on copper. The intimate scale of this panel, combined with the meticulous detail and smooth finish afforded by the copper’s surface, mark it as a work intended for personal enjoyment by the spectator, who can appreciate the excitement of the extraordinary myth in tandem with the erotic elegance of its forms.

Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap, estimate £1.5–2 million

One of the best loved of all the Brueghel compositions and, in its beautiful evocation of a winter’s day, one of the most enduring images in Western Art. This particular version of the Bird Trap is one of only a small handful that is both signed and dated by Pieter Brueghel the Younger himself, as well as being one of a few to include the figures of the holy family on the far bank.

18th-Century Masterpieces

Francesco Guardi, The Grand Canal, Venice, with San Simeon Piccolo, estimate: £1–1.5 million

Only recently brought to light for the first time, this beautiful depiction of the Grand Canal is a mature work by Francesco Guardi, most probably painted in the 1770s. The far north-western stretch of the Grand Canal, dominated by the neoclassical church of San Simeone Piccolo and its great dome, though not the most famous of Venetian views, was often chosen by Guardi as a subject for his paintings. This canvas is one of a small group of closely related vedute, probably also painted in the same decade and taken from the same viewpoint; it is moreover the only signed example known, and certainly the finest to remain in private hands. Its subtle colour harmonies of creams, pinks, blues and greys, and its wonderful capture of the atmospheric qualities of Venetian light attest to Guardi’s mastery of his subject, but equally noteworthy are his closely observed details of everyday life upon the canal.

Jean-Etienne Liotard, A Woman in Turkish Costume in a Hamam Instructing a Servant, pastel on paper, laid down on canvas, 70 × 56 cm (lot 33, estimate £2,000,000–3,000,00).

Jean-Etienne Liotard, A Woman in Turkish Costume in a Hamam Instructing a Servant, estimate: £2–3 million

This exceptional pastel is one of the most famous images created by Liotard, whose endeavours in exotic subjects such as this would have excited the senses of the 18th-century viewer, providing a window into a different world. Though his ties with his native Switzerland never wavered, there was perhaps no other 18th-century artist who was more truly cosmopolitan, with Liotard working in almost all the main cultural centres of Europe over a career that spanned six decades. His works in his preferred medium of pastel are often of startling technical and compositional originality. This portrait encapsulates all of the technical brilliance and timeless mystery that underpin Liotard’s genius and enduring appeal.

Medieval and Renaissance

Sandro Botticelli and Studio, Madonna and Child, Seated before a Classical Window, estimate £1,500,000–2,000,000

Painted in 1485, or soon after, this well preserved Madonna and Child follows the design of the central section of Botticelli’s famous altarpiece for the Bardi chapel in the church of Santo Spirito, Florence and since 1829 in the Gemaldegalerie, Berlin. Whether by Botticelli in its entirety, as believed by Prof. Laurence Kanter, or by Botticelli with some assistance from his workshop, the head and hand of the Madonna are of particular note and it seems very likely that the same cartoon, to map out the composition, was used for both this and the Bardi altarpiece.

Third Master of Anagni, The Madonna and Child, Two Angels in the Spandrels above, mid-1230s, estimate £200,000–300,000

Probably created in the mid-1230s, this is one the earliest paintings to be offered in an Old Masters sale at Sotheby’s. Executed in a deft graphic style, this remarkable early work depicts the Virgin with the Christ Child with an inset arch. Acquired for the illustrious Stoclet Collection in Brussels in the early 20th century, this work has not been offered for sale for nearly a century.


At Christie’s | Old Master Paintings and Sculpture Sales

Posted in Art Market by Editor on June 28, 2019

Claude-Joseph Vernet, Un port de mer au clair de lune, 1774, oil on canvas, 115 × 163 cm
(Lot 33: sold for €416,000)

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Press release, via Art Daily:

Tableaux anciens et du XIXème siècle (Sale 17586)
Christie’s, Paris, 25 June 2019

The top lot of the Old Masters Paintings sale (17586) in Paris was Diane découvrant la grossesse de Callisto by Denys Van Alsloot (1570–1620), which sold for €454,000, four times its pre-sale estimate.

Attributed to François Boucher, Jeune garçon noir de profil, oil on canvas, 45 × 38 cm (Lot 33: sold for €43,750; estimate €20,000–30,000).

Pierre Etienne, International director of the department, stated: “We are proud of the results achieved today for the first sale of our new team, under the hammer of François de Ricqlès for which this auction was the last of his career at Christie’s. These strong results demonstrate that international buyers, from thirteen countries, are always attracted by high-quality paintings from private provenances and fresh to the market such as the beautiful painting by Claude-Joseph Vernet, which was acquired for €416,000 and for le Baron Gérard’s Portrait of the Countess Starzenska coming from the Counts Doria collection which realised €200,000.”

The young painter Théodore Chassériau was also represented in the sale with a beautiful replica of La Joconde executed when the artist was only seventeen years old. It sold for €162,500 against a pre-sale estimate of €50,000–70,000.

Astrid Centner, Director of the department added: “We were pleased to see the constant very positive response of the market for early Flemish paintings that realised great results today such as for a Portrait of a Man Holding a Carnation, which realised €298,000 against a pre-sale estimate of €40,000–60,000, and a portrait of Saint Magdalene executed by the Flemish school ca. 1530, which achieved €162,500.”

We can also notice the preemption made by the Hyacinthe Rigaud Museum for Portrait d’homme à l’habit bleu executed by Hyacinthe Rigaud ca. 1700–15, which sold for €25,000.

Sale total including buyer’s premium: €3.5million

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Sculpture et Objets d’Art européens (Sale 17587)
Christie’s, Paris, 25 June 2019

Jean-Antoine Houdon, Marble Bust of the Countess Jean-Isaac de Thellusson de Sorcy, ca. 1791 (Lot 147: sold for €562,000; estimate €200,000–300,000).

The top lot of the Sculpture and Objets d’Art sale (17587) was a bust by Jean-Antoine Houdon representing the Countess Jean-Isaac de Thellusson de Sorcy, executed ca. 1791, which sold for €562,000.

Isabelle d’Amécourt, Director of the department, stated: “We are pleased with these great results illustrating the continuing high demand for European sculptures and works of art. This auction, which attracted buyers from twenty countries, put forward religious iconography as seen with a stone group of Mary Magdalene and a donor (probably Jacqueline de Bavière), which sold for €478,000, and underlined also the immense talent of 18th-century artists such as Jean-Antoine Houdon or Joseph Chinard, whose bust representing the portrait of a lady artist was recently restituted to the Seligmann family thanks to great work of Christie’s teams.”

Further highlights included two impressive terracotta sculptures of allegorical figures by Mathieu de Tombay, which achieved €112,500 against a pre-sale estimate of €50,000–80,000, and a linden and walnut wood relief of the Abduction of Ganymede executed by Guiseppe Maria Bonzanigo, which realised €47,500.

A real enthusiasm was seen once again for beautiful walnut staircase models. The important group of sixteen staircase models from Henri Klinger’s collection achieved a total of €243,375. Among the highlights was a walnut double staircase executed by Ernst Pinedo in 1897, which was sold for €40,000 against a pre-sale estimate of €5,000–8,000, and another double staircase realised in Amiens ca. 1925, which achieved €37,500 against a pre-sale estimate of €6,000–9,000.

Sale total including buyer’s premium: €2.5million

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)

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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).

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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.”

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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»