Enfilade

At Christie’s | In Praise of America

Posted in Art Market by Editor on January 14, 2021

Lot 103: Carved and painted oak box (detail), attributed to the shop of Thomas Dennis (d. 1706), Ipswich, Massachusetts, 1670–1700 (estimate: $15,000–30,000).

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Press release from Christie’s (18 December 2020). . .

In Praise of America: Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver, Prints, and Broadsides
Christie’s, New York, 21–22 January 2021

In Praise of America: Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver, Prints, and Broadsides (18947) features several distinguished collections including 35 lots from the singular collection of Ambassador J. William Middendorf II, which includes some of the most important documents and images documenting the history of the United States from its 17th-century colonial origins through the American Revolution and the Founding Era. Highlighting the selection is a rare contemporary 1776 broadside edition of the Declaration of Independence (estimate: $600,000–800,000) as well as a fine copy of Paul Revere’s iconic engraving of the Boston Massacre (estimate: $200,000–300,000). These historical pillars are supported by a rich array of period broadsides and prints, objects that informed the world of their intended audience, while at times moving them to action. The objects in this selection not only help tell the rich and complex story of colonial and revolutionary America; they also help tell the story of those who produced them: printers, engravers, painters, and writers on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Siegmund collection of American folk art features 94 lots lovingly collected over a lifetime. All of Joanne and Fred Siegmund’s purchases were joint decisions except one surprise gift for Joanne’s 40th birthday: a pair of green Windsor chairs (estimate: $5,000–7,000). Joanne’s passion and commitment to the genre was recognized with her appointment to serve on the Board of Trustees at the American Folk Art Museum in New York. The Siegmund collection shows an appreciation of self-taught artistry and includes a Pair of Portraits of Silas and Rebecca Sherman by Samuel Addison Shute, possibly in collaboration with his wife, Ruth (estimate: $30,000–50,000) and a Pair of Portraits: Mr. and Mrs. Moffet by John Usher Parsons (estimate: $15,000–30,000), as well as painted furniture, weathervanes, and carved objects.

Lot 174: Chippendale Carved Mahogany Scallop-Top Card Table, attributed to John Townsend, Newport, 1760s (estimate: $150,000-250,000).

The important furniture offerings include a Newport card table attributed to John Townsend (estimate: $150,000–250,000), a set of six rosewood nesting tables by Duncan Phyfe from 1841 (estimate: $50,000–80,000), and a carved oak box attributed to the shop of Thomas Dennis (estimate: $15,000–30,000).

The robust folk art section includes portraits by Joshua Johnson and significant baskets by Dat So La Lee (estimates: $100,000 and $40,000–60,000). Also featured are thirty lots of early English ceramics from the Longridge Collection, including an important dated and initialed dish with a portrait of Charles II (estimate: $50,000–70,000).

The silver section encompasses works from the late 17th century through the 20th century, highlighted by The Governor Gurdon Saltonstall Basin, an Important American silver basin by Jeremiah Dummer (estimate: $30,000–50,000) and a Monumental American Silver-Plated Centerpiece Epergne shown at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial International Exhibition (estimate: $10,000–20,000). A selection of Tiffany is led by a set of twelve American 18-karat after dinner coffee cups, saucers, and spoons and an American silver and mixed-metal vase (estimate: $10,000–15,000). The section is further anchored by the collection of Mary M. and Robert M. Montgomery Jr., which includes eight lots of Gorham silver from their Art Nouveau Martelé line.

At Sotheby’s | Sassoon: A Golden Legacy

Posted in Art Market by Editor on December 6, 2020

Front and back views of a parcel-gilt silver and enamel Torah Shield, signed and dated In Hebrew, Elimelekh Tzoref Of Stanislav, 1782, 8 inches high. Estimate $600–900,000. More information is available here.

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Sotheby’s press release:

Sassoon: A Golden Legacy, N10399
Sotheby’s, New York, 17 December 2020

Sotheby’s announced that it will present a dedicated auction of important Judaica from the legendary Sassoon family on 17 December in New York. Assembled over the course of more than a century by the fabled ‘Rothschilds of the East’, Sassoon: A Golden Legacy will present a treasure trove of gilded silver objects, rare Hebrew manuscripts, textiles, and family artifacts, ranging geographically from Western Europe to the Far East, with rarities dating from the 11th to the 20th centuries. The nearly 70 lots in the collection are monumental in their significance as a primary source on the history of Jewish life and culture, and of the legendary Sassoon family.

With roots in Baghdad, the Sassoons relocated in the 1830s to India, led by their patriarch David Sassoon who established Bombay as the seat of his vast trade empire. He went on to open branches of his company in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Rangoon and played a key role in the industrialization of the Far East. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, much of this fabled family moved to England, entering British high society and distinguishing themselves in the fields of journalism, philanthropy, poetry, politics, and the patronage of the arts. Several members, most notably Reuben David Sassoon, Flora Sassoon, David Solomon Sassoon, and Solomon David Sassoon, were particularly avid collectors of items of Jewish interest.

This sale offers treasures that have descended in the family since its earliest days, with items assembled during their residencies in Baghdad, Bombay, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. An important group of objects comes from Philip Salomons, brother of the first Jewish Lord Mayor of London and one of the earliest collectors of antique Judaica. That collection was bought by Reuben David Sassoon, who augmented it and subsequently lent many of these items—including several offered for sale here—to the groundbreaking 1887 Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the first exhibition broadly dedicated to Judaica. Many were shown again in 1906, but have not been seen in public for over a century.

“We are incredibly privileged to present the Sassoon collection,” said John Ward, Head of Sotheby’s Silver Department in New York. “Sotheby’s history with the Sassoons goes back to the early 20th century, when David Solomon Sassoon bought Jewish books and manuscripts in Bond Street in the early 1900s. Beginning in 1970, we have been honored to host an extraordinary series of sales for the family in Zurich, New York, London, and Tel Aviv. The pieces in this sale are not just the personal holdings of one of the world’s great Jewish families, they are significant works of art, and tell an important story of Jewish patronage, collecting, and scholarship.”

Sharon Liberman Mintz, Senior Consultant of Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby’s, stated: “The distinguished pedigree, superior quality, and historical importance of this collection leaves me breathless. Not only are the Silver and Hebrew manuscripts some of the finest objects to ever come to market, they are further distinguished by their unparalleled provenance to generations of members from this legendary family. Working with this collection has been among the highlights of my professional career.”

The Sassoon Collection is led by two highly important parcel-gilt silver Torah shields from the 18th century, representing the most important pieces of Judaic metalwork to appear at auction in a generation. These superb jewel-like works of art, probably made in Lemberg (Lviv)—an important 18th-century Jewish center in modern-day Ukraine—are not only extraordinary in their craftsmanship, but are now attributable to the Jewish silversmith, Elimelekh Tzoref of Stanislav. As Jews of Western Europe were, for the most part, barred from joining the guilds. this is an extraordinary document from the era of the Enlightenment, and the date and signature of the artist represent a proud proclamation of Jewish artistry. Although the artist’s name appears only on one shield, their matching and highly distinctive decoration allows us to attribute both to him, in addition to a similar third shield (now in the Israel Museum) that was offered by the Sassoons through Sotheby’s Tel Aviv in 2000, and which achieved the then record-breaking price of almost $800,000.

The shields were in the collection of Reuben David Sassoon, who lent them to the aforementioned 1887 Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall. However, the full story and historic significance of these three works could not be deduced until now, when the two companion shields have appeared—for the first time since the historic 1906 Whitechapel exhibition Jewish Art and Antiquities. The two shields evoke in miniature the towering carved wooden Torah Arks of Eastern European synagogues and are intricately engraved on the backs: on one scenes from the story of Isaac are displayed in an exuberant rococo setting (estimate $600–900,000), and on the other the artist has engraved a highly detailed plan of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from a birds eye perspective (estimate $500,000–800,000).

Italian gold Esther Scroll Case, 18th century. Estimate: $60,000–90,000.

Most of the manuscripts derive from the collection of the famous bibliophile David Solomon Sassoon, with examples showcasing the reach of Jewish culture. Among the important books and manuscripts in the collection are a small group of items related to the great Rabbi Joseph Hayyim of Baghdad (1834–1909)—one of the most prominent halakhic authorities and kabbalists of Iraqi Jewry in the 19th and 20th century. Often described as ‘the preeminent kabbalist of Baghdad’, and referred to as the ‘Ben Ish Hai’—after his most popular literary work, Sefer ben ish hai—he played an important role in simplifying and popularizing kabbalistic concepts and practices among the masses throughout the Middle East.

The star highlight is a Siddur, or daily prayer book, owned by Rabbi Joseph Hayyim of Baghdad (estimate $100,000–200,000). Containing the prayers for much of the liturgical year, accompanied by an anthologized Kabbalistic commentary, it is distinguished not only by the high quality of its penmanship and condition, but by the presence of several notes and comments written by the rabbi himself.

The collection also includes two pairs of Tefillin (phylacteries) that belonged to Rabbi Joseph Hayyim of Baghdad (estimate $150,000–250,000). Following the rabbi’s death in 1909, David Solomon penned a letter to the rabbi’s son wishing him consolation and asking him if he could gift his father’s tefillin as a memento. No other examples of tefillin belonging to R. Joseph Hayyim of Baghdad are known to exist.

The collection also features several Yemenite manuscript copies of works by Rabbi Moses Maimonides (Rambam; 1138–1204), one of the most illustrious Jewish figures of all time. Born in Cordoba, Spain, he fled persecution at the hands of the Almohads in the late 1140s, eventually moving first to Fez, Morocco, and later settling in Cairo, where he remained until his death. His reputation rests upon his excellence in a wide variety of fields. Not only was he a halakhist and communal leader of the first rank, he also wrote highly important works of medicine and Jewish philosophy that, like the rest of his oeuvre, achieved wide circulation.

This group is led by a copy of Rabbi Moses Maimonides’ Judeo-Arabic commentary on Seder mo‘ed, the second Order of the Mishnah (estimate $25,000–35,000). It is one of only ten known copies of Maimonides’ original Judeo-Arabic commentary on Seder mo‘ed from before the fifteenth century, and the only one remaining in private hands.

The sale also includes an exceptionally well executed and preserved Miniature Torah Scroll from the 19th century, outfitted with elegant silver-gilt and silk accoutrements (estimate $80,000–120,000). While most communal scrolls used in synagogues for ritual purposes are large and heavy, ones for private devotion tend to be diminutive and portable, allowing their owners not only to store them more easily, but also to transport them from place to place. Naturally, the degree of proficiency required to produce a small scroll like the present one was beyond the ability of most skilled scribes—making such scrolls highly rare and greatly prized.

Additional objects in the sale reflect the personal tastes, luxurious lifestyles and the international range of this legendary family. One finds pieces of family artifacts such as the magnificent silk robe Ezekiel ben Joshua Gubbay (1824–1896) wore upon his marriage to Aziza Sassoon (1839–1897) (estimate $2,000–4,000); the ketubbah used at the wedding of Reuben David Sassoon and Catherine Ezekiel, members of two of the greatest Baghdadi merchant families in India (estimate $10,000–20,000); a silver memorial plaque for Lady Anne Sassoon, wife of Sir Albert (Abdullah) David Sassoon (estimate $2,000–3,000); a signet ring used by David Solomon Sassoon (estimate $2,000–3,000), and a golden medal presented to Lady Rachel Sassoon Ezra by the Governor of Bengal in 1947 (estimate $1,000–1,500).

Masterpiece Online 2020, Panel Discussions

Posted in Art Market, lectures (to attend) by Editor on June 21, 2020

From the schedule:

Masterpiece Online, Panel Discussions
22–28 June 2020

Masterpiece Online showcases our exhibitors’ knowledge and passion, reproducing that sense of discovery that sparks new conversations at the fair. Join us for live panel discussions with leading cultural institutions, watch interviews and learn from experts, join live private views with friends, and buy works of art from Masterpiece exhibitors. Book your place at one of our live-streamed panel discussions with leading institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery, Design Museum, and Hong Kong Museum of Art. All talks are free to attend, and we encourage you to make a donation to support our cultural partners in these challenging times.

Broadly, Deeply, Passionately: Living with Collections
24 June 2020, 5pm BST (12pm EST)

Decorated rooms say one thing, while collected rooms say quite another. Join Mitchell Owens, the decorative arts editor of Architectural Digest, with scholar Justin McGuirk (Chief Curator, Design Museum) and designers Rose Heyman (Director / Founder Rose Uniacke) and Boris Vervoordt (Director, Axel Vervoordt) as they discuss the allure of interiors that celebrate personal connoisseurship over commonplace style.
• Moderator: Mitchell Owens (Decorative Arts Editor, Architectural Digest)
• Rose Uniacke (Director/Founder, Rose Uniacke)
• Justin McGuirk (Chief Curator, Design Museum)
• Boris Vervoordt (Director, Axel Vervoordt)

Register for this talk

Art and Experience in the Digital Era: Balancing the Virtual and the Physical
25 June 2020, 11am BST (6am EST)

How are museums and commercial galleries using technology to engage their audiences during the Covid-19 crisis? And in the aftermath of the pandemic, what strategies will they use to maintain that audience in a cash-strapped consumer culture that increasingly values experience above the appreciation and possession of individual objects?
• Moderator: Scott Reyburn (Journalist, The New York Times and The Art Newspaper)
• Rebecca Lyons (Director of Collections and Learning, Royal Academy of Arts)
• Helen Jacobsen (Senior Curator and Curator of French 18th-Century Decorative Arts, The Wallace Collection)
• Francis Sultana (HE Ambassador of Culture for Malta, Designer, and CEO, David Gill Gallery)

Register for this talk

Engaging Audiences, Old and New: How to Attract and Inspire Museum Visitors Today
25 June 2020, 5pm BST (12pm EST)

As museums face increased questions over their place and purpose in the 21st century, what initiatives have been put in place to expand their audiences? How best to strike a balance between reaching out to new visitors and keeping existing supporters onside? What lessons have been learnt from the lockdown and its forced move to virtual visiting? And what financial structures and support will enable museums to survive and thrive in truly challenging times? Melanie Gerlis, art market writer for the Financial Times, hosts leading figures from public and private institutions on both sides of Atlantic, Wolf Burchard (Associate Curator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Tristram Hunt (Director, V&A Museum) and Ian Wardropper (Director, The Frick Collection).
• Moderator: Melanie Gerlis (Art market writer, Financial Times)
• Wolf Burchard (Associate Curator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
• Tristram Hunt (Director, V&A Museum)
• Ian Wardropper (Director, The Frick Collection)

Register for this talk

Public, Private Delights: Sculpture Today
26 June 2020, 11am BST (6am EST)

What does sculpture mean to us today—be it public or private—and has its status changed in contemporary times?
• Moderator | Farah Nayeri (Journalist, The New York Times)
• Polly Bielecka (Gallery Director, Pangolin London)
• Simon Martin (Director, Pallant House Gallery)
• Zak Ové (Artist)

Register for this talk

Women Artists, Then and Now
26 June 2020, 5pm BST (12pm EST)

Examining the role of women in art from the Renaissance up until the present day. This talk, moderated by Katy Hessel (of @thegreatwomenartists Instagram and podcast), will speak to National Gallery curator, Letizia Treves, on staging shows of the women of the Baroque; gallerist Richard Saltoun who has established a reputation for promoting and exhibiting the work of female artists; Jo Baring, Director of the Ingram Collection, and Sarah Turner, Deputy Director of the Paul Mellon Centre, (both also of Sculpting Lives podcast); Corrie Jackson, Senior Curator for the Royal Bank of Canada art collection; and Zoé Whitley, Director, The Chisenhale Gallery, about the women who challenged and continue to challenge art history, and getting the recognition they so rightly deserve.
• Moderator: Katy Hessel (of @thegreatwomenartists Instagram and podcast)
• Jo Baring (Director, The Ingram Collection; co-host of the Sculpting Lives: Women & Sculpture podcast)
• Corrie Jackson (Senior Curator, Royal Bank of Canada art collection)
• Letizia Treves (The James and Sarah Sassoon Curator of Later Italian, Spanish, and French 17th-Century Paintings, The National Gallery, London)
• Richard Saltoun (Director, Richard Saltoun)
• Sarah Turner (Deputy Director for Research at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London; co-host of the Sculpting Lives: Women & Sculpture podcast)
• Zoé Whitley (Director, The Chisenhale Gallery)

Register for this talk

Collecting Pre-Contemporary Art Online: New Ways to Look, Learn, and Buy
27 June 2020, 11am BST (6am EST)

The coronavirus lockdown hit has forced us all to recalibrate how we view, collect and sell art as exhibitions, auctions and even art fairs have been forced online—and fast. It’s a steep learning curve for both buyers and sellers in all fields, but particularly for those in the traditionally analogue world of pre-contemporary art, where issues of provenance, authenticity and trust are all the more complex, and the audience perhaps less digitally savvy. Our panel of experts will discuss the challenge of becoming ‘digital connoisseurs’, taking in the latest developments, good and bad, in the shift to online, the questions to ask and pitfalls to avoid when buying historical art via jpegs, and the big question of whether you should you ever buy a work sight unseen, even now?
• Moderator: Anna Brady (Art Market Editor, The Art Newspaper)
• Katrin Bellinger (Dealer and Old Master drawings collector)
• Philip Hewat-Jaboor (Chairman, Masterpiece)
• Philip Mould (Art dealer, writer and broadcaster)
• Orlando Rock (Chairman, Christie’s UK)

Register for this talk

Museums and Mentors, Scholarship and Friendship: Stories from the World of Fine Ceramics
27 June 2020, 5pm BST (12pm EST)

The French Porcelain Society has always valued the scholarship and insight of dealers who contribute so much to its publications, events, and lectures. Martin P. Levy of H. Blairman & Sons, leads a discussion on the influence of dealers past and present with four long–standing European ceramics exhibitors at Masterpiece London: Michele Beiny, Errol Manners, Adrian Sassoon, and John Whitehead. Their stories speak of inspirational and sometimes eccentric mentors: museum curators, collectors, auctioneers, and forebears in the antiques trade. Join us for some thought-provoking conversations on the art of dealing.
• Moderator: Martin Levy (Director, H. Blairman & Sons Ltd)
• Michele Beiny Harkins (Director, Michele Beiny)
• Errol Manners (Director, E&H Manners)
• Adrian Sassoon (Director, Adrian Sassoon)
• John Whitehead (Art dealer, lecturer, and writer)

Register for this talk

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Note (added 21 June 2020) — The original version of this posting omitted information for the June 26 sculpture session.

At Auction | Horse Racing Tickets

Posted in Art Market by Editor on May 12, 2020

Lot 276: Northumberland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Newcastle Grand Stand, 1800, silver, unsigned, grandstand, rev. horse standing right, held by a jockey, named (His Grace the Duke of Northumberland), 31mm, 15.05g (W 1545; D & W 323/17; cf. DNW 157, 1319-20). Pierced for suspension, very fine and toned, very rare, estimate: £300–400.

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Via Art Daily (11 May 2020) . . .

Tokens, Tickets and Passes, Historical Medals — Online Auction
Dix Noonan Webb, London, 26 May 2020

International coins, medals, banknotes, and jewellery specialists Dix Noonan Webb, are encouraging racing enthusiasts to take a gamble on a group of 18th- and 19th-century horse racing tickets and passes (lots 274–294) that will be offered in a live online auction in their sale of Tokens and Historical Medals on Tuesday, 26 May 2020 at 11am on their website.

The collection comprises 20 lots, and estimates range from £40 to £400. Many of the pieces are engraved with names of nobility and well-known figures in the horseracing fraternity such as the Duke of Northumberland (Alnwick Castle); Hon. Egremont Lascelles (Harewood House); Major John St Leger; Henry Fiennes Pelham Clinton, (2nd Duke of Newcastle); the Duke of Portland and Lord Dundas.

As Peter Preston-Morley, Specialist and Associate Director, Dix Noonan Webb, commented: “We are very pleased to be offering this fascinating group of early tokens relating to horseracing—right now, when there’s no racing taking place, it is a perfect opportunity to take a gamble on these!”

The collection, from several different owners, includes pieces dating from throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Among the highlights is a very rare silver example depicting the Newcastle Grand Stand that belonged to His Grace the Duke of Northumberland. Lt-General Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland (1742–1817), acceded to the title in 1786, and after an illustrious military career, in later life, he became one of the richest men in England (estimate: £300–400). There is a pair of ivory admission tokens to the Ladies Stand at Doncaster bearing the name Honble. Egremont Lascelles. Lascelles, who lived at Harewood, was a prominent figure at race meetings in Yorkshire from the late 1840s until the late 1870s and his pair of tokens, for him and his wife, is estimated at £300–400.

Trinity Fine Art Offers Ricci’s Lapiths and Centaurs at TEFAF

Posted in Art Market by Editor on March 2, 2020

Sebastiano Ricci, The Battle of the Lapiths and the Centaurs, early eighteenth century, oil on canvas, 63 × 76 cm (Offered at TEFAF Maastricht 2020 by Trinity Fine Art for approximately one million euros).

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From the press release, via Art Daily (28 February 2020). . .

One of the highlights of TEFAF Maastricht 2020 (7–15 March) will be an extremely rare work by Sebastiano Ricci: The Battle of the Lapiths and the Centaurs, which has been rediscovered after being lost for 60 years. Sebastiano Ricci (1659–1734) revitalised Venetian painting at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and his work marked the transition between the Baroque and Rococo styles. He took the rich colours and luminosity of Veronese and further transformed it by his looser, more airy and spontaneously decorative style always shot through with a clear Venetian light, all traits he passed down in turn to Tiepolo. Ricci was widely travelled, since as one of the main exponents of the Rococo style he was called to many European courts that wished to draw on his talents. He was in France—where he became a close friend of Watteau—in Austria—where he was summoned by Emperor Joseph I to decorate the palace of Schönbrunn, and in England—where he executed a series of large canvases for the newly constructed Burlington House and also sold works to King George III.

Ricci’s work is exceptionally rare on the art market, since his best paintings—allegorical and biblical paintings and frescos of significant dimensions—are already contained in public collections, many of them since the eighteenth century. The works he made for Lord Burlington are now in the Royal Academy, London, and those acquired by King George III are at the Royal Collection, London. Those in the Hermitage have been there since the eighteenth century as have those in the Liechtenstein collection, acquired in 1819; and then there are the many frescos and ceilings in Italian palazzi and churches.

The present monumental work can be dated to the early eighteenth century at which time Ricci’s work displayed a close affinity with that of the Genoese painter, Alessandro Magnasco. It shows Ricci at the height of his powers of composition and as a colourist in this depiction of the story of the Lapiths and Centaurs taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which was a popular choice from the Renaissance onwards for both artists and their humanist patrons since it symbolised both the victory of civilisation over barbarity and intellect triumphing over lust. It also has the added interest of being a collaborative work between Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, the former’s nephew, who is credited with executing many of the background details such as architectural elements and trees.

This work is to be offered by Trinity Fine Art at TEFAF Maastricht 2020, with an asking price of around one million euros. Established in 1984, Trinity Fine Art has earned a reputation as a leading dealer and consultant, offering exceptional works of art and specialising in master paintings, sculpture, and works of art from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century. Its clients include many of the world’s major museums as well as most leading private collections.

At Sotheby’s | 1794 Charter for America’s First African Free School

Posted in Art Market by Editor on February 28, 2020

Press release, via Art Daily (27 February 2020). . .

Sotheby’s announced today that the Books & Manuscripts department will offer the 1794 land indenture for the use and benefit of New York City’s African Free School—founded by Founding Fathers Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and others—marking the establishment of the first such school in America. Making its auction debut at Sotheby’s 24 June Books & Manuscripts sale in New York, the document is estimated to achieve between $250,000 and $350,000. The indenture will be on public view at Sotheby’s New York galleries through 29 February, coinciding with the final week of Black History Month and showcase this integral piece of American civil rights history to the public.

Richard Austin, Head of Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department in New York, commented: “We are thrilled to offer such a unique and historically important document in our upcoming June sale. The African Free School was an amazing symbol of the liberal democratic principles espoused by the country’s framers, and was a truly progressive institution at the time. To highlight the unprecedented achievement of the school and display the document in our galleries during Black History Month is an honor and we hope it will inspire others to reflect on the course of American history and social equality.”

Established by the New York Manumission Society—which was formed in 1785 by some of New York’s most elite and influential citizens, including John Jay and Alexander Hamilton—the African Free School was created with the aim, as they perceived it, of educating black children so that they might take their place as equals to white American citizens. As the present indenture states, the school was formed “for the humane and charitable purpose of Educating negro Children to the end that they may become good and useful Citizens of the State.” The mission of the Manumission Society in forming the school was to validate the tenet set forth in the Declaration of Independence just a few years before that “all men are created equal.” The Society also felt that education was an essential element in creating a populace capable of sustaining and furthering a democracy.

In addition to Hamilton and Jay, the New York Manumission Society counted luminaries as George Clinton, John Murray, Melancton Smith, and James Duane among its founding members. At a time when slavery was integral to the economic expansion in New York and America, these Founding Fathers and others began their mission of abolishing slavery in the state of New York by protesting the relatively common practice of kidnapping black New Yorkers—slaves and free men and women alike—in order to sell them into servitude elsewhere. The Society also provided legal assistance to free and enslaved blacks who were being abused, and in 1785 successfully lobbied for a law prohibiting the sale of imported slaves in the state of New York—before the state passed a gradual emancipation law in 1799. Slavery was officially abolished in New York State on July 4, 1827.

The African Free School was instituted on 2 November 1787, but was not built until 22 July 1794. Upon the land documented in the present indenture, a single-room schoolhouse was erected in lower Manhattan that would house around forty students, the majority of whom were the children of slaves. The members of the Manumission Society raised funds—or, in many instances, provided the funds themselves—for teachers’ salaries, supplies, and, eventually, for the creation of new buildings required to house the growing student population. In 1809, the trustees of the school hired Charles Andrews, and under his ardent leadership the school experienced significant expansion, with enrollment reaching 700 students by the end of his tenure.

By 1835, the African Free School model proved so successful that a total of seven schools were established throughout the city, which were then absorbed into the New York City public school system. By that time, the African Free School of New York had educated thousands of children, many of whom went on to become prominent abolitionists, artists, and entrepreneurs.

At Christie’s | Americana Week 2020

Posted in Art Market by Editor on December 27, 2019

Joshua Johnson (ca.1763–after 1824), A Pair of Portraits: Boy with Squirrel and Girl with Dog, oil on canvas, 30 × 24 inches. Lot 219: estimate, 100,000–150,000. Related paintings by Johnson date from around 1800 to 1805.

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From the press release, via Art Daily (22 December 2019) . . .

Christie’s announces Americana Week 2020, a series of auctions, viewings, and events, to be held January 11–24. The week of sales is comprised of Outsider Art on January 17; Chinese Export Art Featuring the Tibor Collection, Part II on January 23; and Important American Furniture, Folk Art, and Silver on January 24.

Object highlights across the week include a majestic composition by Edward Hicks Peaceable Kingdom ($1,500,000–3,500,000), The Gould Family Queen Anne Carved Walnut High Chest-of-Drawers, Newport, 1750–70 ($300,000–400,000), Bill Traylor’s Man on White, Woman on Red / Man with Black Dog (double-sided) ($200,000–400,000) from the Collection of Alice Walker, a double-sided work by Henry Darger Untitled (188/189), double sided ($400,000–600,000), and notable Outsider Art works from The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation. Works of rarity and fine craftsmanship include a pair of Chinese export porcelain ‘soldier’ vases and covers, early Qianlong Period, ca. 1740 ($100,000–150,000) and an important American silver, gold, and enamel vase by Louis Comfort Tiffany from 1915 ($100,000–150,000).

Americana Week 2020 will offer over a curation of more than 560 lots across the three live auctions. Viewings begin with the Outsider Art sale opening on 11 January at our Rockefeller Center galleries with the remaining two auctions, Chinese Export Art and Important American Furniture, Folk Art, and Silver opening on 15 January. In conjunction with the sales, Christie’s will host the annual Eric M. Wunsch Award for Excellence in the American Arts on Wednesday, January 22 at 6pm honoring Laura Beach, Lita Solis-Cohen, and Mira Nakashima, as well as a Christie’s Lates event on Wednesday, January 15 combining a preview of the auctions, music, and specialist talks.

Outsider Art (Sale 17860)
Christie’s New York, 17 January 2020

On January 17 Christie’s will offer 130 lots of Outsider Art featuring rare and important masterpieces from the category’s top artists, including Bill Traylor, William Edmonson, Henry Darger, Thornton Dial and Martin Ramirez, among others.

Chinese Export Art Featuring the Tibor Collection, Part II, (Sale 18087)
Christie’s New York, 23 January 2020

Chinese Export Art Featuring the Tibor Collection, Part II, taking place in New York on January 24th, presents 166 lots of porcelain and paintings made for the great commerce between China and the West in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The variety on offer includes blue and white, famille verte, famille rose, armorial pieces, and rare European subjects. The sale is led by a rich assortment from the Tibor Collection, which encompasses every category of Chinese export porcelain—from small, charming teawares to massive pairs of important jars—gathered from Latin America, Europe, and the U.S. The collector was drawn to figure and animal models, including lifelike Chinese porcelain birds, pairs of pups to mythical beasts, and amusing packs of blanc de chine foo lions.

Important American Furniture, Folk Art, and Silver (Sale 17810)
Christie’s New York, 24 January 2020

The Important American Furniture, Folk Art, and Silver sale on January 24 includes an exceptional selection of 267 lots. The top lot of American Week is a magnificent Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks ($1,500,000–3,500,000), a ‘Late Kingdom’ masterpiece made at the height of the artist’s career and one of the most successful examples of his famous subject. This example differs in minor details to an example now at Colonial Williamsburg and was described by Hicks as “one of the best I ever done.” The significant selection of Folk Art includes a pair of vividly colored and exquisitely detailed portraits by Joshua Johnson: Boy with Squirrel and Girl with Dog (Lot 219, $100,000–150,000); an exquisite painting of two steamers by James Bard, The San Rafael ($50,000–80,000); and an iconic portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart (Lot 291, $200,000–300,000). A group of 11 cigar store figures from the collection of Gary Herman Dubnoff is led by a carved and polychrome paint-decorated Cigar Store Figure Of ‘Punch’ possibly from the workshop of Samuel Anderson Robb (1851–1928), New York, late 19th century ($70,000–90,000).

Important furniture highlights from distinguished collections include the Gould Family Queen Anne Carved Walnut Chest-of Drawers, Newport, 1750–70, from The Wunsch Americana Foundation, Inc. (Lot 296, $300,000–400,000); and from the collection of Ralph E. Carpenter, Jr. is a Queen Anne Walnut Tall-Case Clock, ca. 1740, with a dial signed by William Claggett ($30,000–50,000), and the Tillinghast Family Pair of Queen Anne Walnut Side Chairs, possibly by John Goddard, Newport, 1760–70 (two pairs presented in two lots, each estimated at $15,000–$25,000).

The sale features an impressive group of American silver with early works by Paul Revere II and iconic creations by Tiffany & Co. including a silver, gold, and enamel vase by Louis Comfort Tiffany, which was exhibited at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco ($100,000–150,000), and parcel-gilt silver and enamel musical carousel designed by Gene Moore, ca. 1990 ($50,000–80,000). Additional highlights include a pair of Martele silver vases by Gorham Mfg. Co. for the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle ($10,000–15,000) and an important silver caudle cup, by Jurian Blanck Jr., New York, ca. 1680 ($20,000–30,000).

London Art Week Winter 2019

Posted in Art Market by Editor on November 23, 2019

From the press release:

London Art Week Winter
London, 1–6 December 2019

The galleries and auction houses of London Art Week throw open their doors for the third iteration of LAW Winter, from Sunday 1 to Friday 6 December 2019. Thirty-two special exhibitions and Old Master sales offer millennia of art at locations throughout Mayfair and St. James’s. Whilst the emphasis is on pre-contemporary works, art on display dates back as far as the days of ancient Greece and Rome through to the present time.

London Art Week is a wonderful excuse for collectors, curators and art lovers to explore many of the capital’s most illustrious commercial art galleries and spaces, and enjoy events and talks. All the works displayed are for sale, with prices starting below £1,000, and the expert dealers are on hand to share their knowledge. Like visiting a series of mini museums, following the London Art Week Winter 2019 map (drawn by artist Adam Dant) reveals rarely-seen medieval art from Spain, ‘giant leaf’ renaissance tapestries inspired by exotic plants of the New World, ground-breaking female artists of the 20th century, art influenced by the orient, and works by famous ‘blue chip’ artists of the 17th to 20th centuries. . . .

The ‘Bleu Celeste’ broth-bowl and cover with stand (Vincennes, 1755), one of only three known examples, is offered by Oliver Forge & Brendan Lynch Ltd, in connection with their exhibition Ottoman Patronage and European Merchandise: Works of Art from Turkey and France, 1530–1820 (the catalogue is available here).

The full LAW press release, with additional highlights is available here»

 

At Bonhams | Fine European Ceramics

Posted in Art Market by Editor on November 19, 2019

Pair of Sèvres bottle coolers (Seaux à bouteille) from a service for Madame du Barry, ca. 1770, each side reserved with a gilt-edged circular medallion depicting a seated putto in a landscape with attributes of Music, Poetry, War, and Peace–with the putto emblematic of Poetry holding a scroll with the inscription “Ode sur le mariage de M le Dauphin. le 16 May 1770” (Ode on the marriage of the Dauphin. the 16 May 1770).

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Press release, via Art Daily, for the sale at Bonhams:

Fine European Ceramics
Bonhams, London, 4 December 2019

An exceptionally rare pair of Sèvres bottle coolers from a service commissioned by Madame du Barry, the final maîtresse-en-titre of Louis XV, will be offered at Bonhams Fine European Ceramics sale in London on Wednesday, 4 December (lot 114). The pair is estimated at £60,000–80,000.

Madame du Barry (1743–1793) rose from humble origins as the illegitimate daughter of a seamstress to become the last, and with Madame de Pompadour, the greatest of the maîtresses-en-titre of Louis XV (The title refers to the chief mistress of the French Kings who enjoyed a semi-official position at court). Famed for her beauty among the ranks of high society courtesans, she caught the eye of Louis XV in 1768. The King procured a title for her through an arranged marriage with Comte Guillaume du Barry, and in 1769 she was officially presented to the court of Versailles. From then on she was regarded as the maîtresse-en-titre. Louis installed her in the Château de Louveciennes and in a suite of apartments directly below his own in Versailles itself. He also took the unusual step of including her in the private family gathering on the eve of the wedding of his son, the Dauphin and future Louis XVI, to Marie Antoinette.

The service was purchased by Madame du Barry in September 1770. Consisting of only 39 expensive and opulent pieces it was clearly intended as a status symbol, its use confined to intimate suppers with influential figures at court. An ode to the marriage of the Dauphin to Marie Antoinette inscribed on the coolers, can be interpreted as an attempt to curry favour and further cement her position at court. On Louis XV’s death in May 1774, du Barry was banished from court—Marie Antoinette famously disapproved of her, and for many years refused to acknowledge her presence. She eventually returned to Louveciennes, where she lived until her arrest in 1793 during the French Revolution. She was executed in December that year.

Bonhams Head of European Ceramics, Nette Megens said, “Pieces from this very select service made for Madame du Barry hardly ever appear on the market. There were only three bottle coolers in the service, and this pair offers collectors with a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Lot 42 — Meissen silver-gilt mounted tankard with Chinoiserie decoration, ca. 1723–24.

Other highlights in the sale include:

Lot 117 — A large Berlin porcelain vase given to Sir Andrew Buchanan by the King of Prussia, ca. 1859 (estimate £25,000–30,000). Distinguished 19th-century Scottish diplomat Sir Andrew Buchanan had an unusually wide-ranging career, and earned the gratitude not only of the British government, but also of the nations in which he served. The King of Prussia presented him with the magnificent Berlin vase; and the Danish king Frederick VII gave him a service of 18 plates by the Royal Copenhagen factory, with scenes after famous designs by Berthel Thorvaldsen. These are also in the sale (lot 121) , estimated at £10,000–15,000.

Lot 42 — A rare Meissen silver-gilt mounted tankard with Chinoiserie decoration, ca. 1723–24 (estimate £20,000–30,000). This piece is from private European collection and shows the very best of chinoiserie painting and gilding on early Meissen porcelain.

Lot 105 — A Nymphenburg Commedia dell’Arte figure of Mezzetin dressed as a Harlequin, ca. 1760–65 (estimate: £30,000–50,000). This figure is traditionally paired with another Commedia dell’Arte figure, Lalage, who holds a bowl and a spoon, ready to feed the ‘infant’ in Mezzetin’s arms (actually a monkey dressed as a baby).

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.