Enfilade

At Christie’s | Women in Art

Posted in Art Market by Editor on June 6, 2021

From the press release, via Art Daily (3 May 2021) for the upcoming sale . . .

Women in Art, Sale 19614
Christie’s, Paris, 16 June 2021

Lot 10: Anne Vallayer-Coster, Vase of Flowers and Grapes on a Stone Ledge, 1781, oil on canvas, unlined, 18 × 15 inches. Estimate: 150,000–250,000€.

For the first time, Christie’s in France will hold a sale dedicated to women artists, covering all mediums—paintings, sculptures, books and autographed letters, photographs, engravings, design, jewels, and fashion (Sale 19614). The panorama will pay tribute to women artists working over five centuries, of different nationalities, all of whom have marked art history, from the 16th to the 21st century.

Alice Chevrier, specialist in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department, and Bérénice Verdier, specialist in the Old Master Paintings Department, are in charge of the sale and note: “We are very proud to organise in France the first sale dedicated to women artists. In recent months, we have watched as events devoted to women artists were held by museums, including the exhibition Peintres femmes, 1780–1830 at the Musée du Luxembourg; the upcoming exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, Elles font l’abstraction; and the MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses), Female Artistic Creation, created by the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’Orsay through their collaboration with the Aware association. It seemed therefore a good moment for Christie’s Paris to organize a sale with this focus for the art market and we have had great support from consignors and colleagues. We have been able to assemble an impressive selection of works from different periods and mediums, which should widen the appeal to many collectors, with estimates ranging from 200 to 300,000 Euros. We hope that the sale will throw light on the careers of these women artists, some of whom have remained in the shadow for too long!”

This sale focuses on artists from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries who have often been treated unequally in art history. In the Old Master Paintings section is a beautiful painting by Louise Moillon (1610–1696), Still Life (1636), the highlight of the sale, estimated at €300,000–500,000. A leader in the genre of fruit still lifes, Moillon is one of the few female painters from 17th-century France whose work is now well identified. Still LIfe is dated and signed, allowing scholars to situate it precisely in a body of work with only sixty-nine works attributed with certainty to the artist. The meticulous realism of Moillon’s works, the precise touch, full colors, and the rendering of the velvetiness or transparency of the fruits are a testament to the painter’s mastery of her craft, inherited from Flemish art and acquired by her familiarity with the work of a group of Dutch painters working in Saint-Germain.

Further highlights include a delicate autumnal composition by Anne Vallayer-Coster (1744–1818), Vase of Flowers and Grapes on Entablature (estimate: €150,000–250,000), executed in 1781 during the artist’s mature period, after her admission to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. In an excellent state of conservation, the work has never been presented at auction and has not been exhibited since its last appearance at an exhibition in London in 1954. An artist of great modernity recognized by her peers, Vallayer-Coster inspired the Impressionists, notably Fantin La Tour.

Lot 104: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, Madame Charles Mitoire, née Christine-Geneviève Bron (1760–1842), avec ses enfants, allaitant l’un d’eux, 1783, pastel on paper laid down on canvas, 36 × 26 inches. Estimate: 150,000–250,000€.

Another important work in the section is a beautiful Portrait of a Woman by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755–1842). Counted among the greatest portraitists of her time, the artist was successively the painter of the Court of France, the Kingdom of Naples, the Court of the Emperor of Vienna, and finally the Emperor of Russia. This is a rediscovery, as the work has never been published or offered for sale (estimate: €80,000–120,000). Collectors should be seduced by this beautiful testimony of the artist’s Parisian period.

Lavinia Fontana (1552–1614), an Italian painter who imposed her talent and erudition in the 16th century as the first woman artist elected to the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, offers here in full-length a portrait of a young boy with a dog (1585–90) a fine example of her art. A preparatory drawing for this painting is in the Uffizi Museum in Florence. The portrait is estimated at €60,000–100,000.

The sale, which will also feature a section devoted to decorative arts, includes a refined marquetry tray made by Rosalie Duvinage (Veuve ‘Widow’ Duvinage). It is one of the most original productions of the 1870s. Influenced by Japanese art, both in its technique and its iconography, it testifies by its forms to the eclecticism characteristic of the late 19th century.

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Department will offer a magnificent eight-page letter by George Sand (1804–1876) addressed to Gustave Flaubert, estimated at €6,000–8,000. The writer changed her name to that of a man to ensure her work was more widely read. This letter-confession is one of the most beautiful and moving of Sand’s correspondence: “Your letters fall on me like a rain that wets, and makes what is in germ in the ground grow right away. . . .” Collectors will also be able to purchase a letter which has never been published from Edith Piaf (1915–1963) to her lover, the Italian-French actor Yves Montand (estimate: €2,000–3,000), which she wrote to him while on tour in the North of France. She announced their breakup, after receiving a telegram from Montand, saying, “You may be right—I am too young for you— Wishing you with all my heart the happiness you deserve.”

In the field of science, women have also worked in a revolutionary way, and Marie Curie (1867–1934) is perhaps one of the most important figures, especially thanks to her 1903 thesis devoted to radioactivity, for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, six months after its publication. Scientific bibliophiles will certainly be aware of the historical value of the book, offered in its first edition and signed by her hand (estimate: €10,000–15,000).

Dorothea Tanning (1910–2012) is represented in this sale through her engraved masterpiece: The 7 Spectral Perils (€25,000–35,000). Produced in 1950, these seven surrealist lithographs in exceptional condition will be presented in their original portfolio. The edition includes only 50 copies, some of which are already in the collections of the greatest international museums (including MoMA, Reina Sofia, Smithsonian American Art Museum).

Other important figures of the 20th century include Niki de Saint Phalle (1930–2002), Sarah Morris (b. 1967), Dora Maar (1907–1997), Sheila Hicks (b. 1934), and Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908–1992). The latter’s work La ville, la nuit, estimated at €30,000–50,000, is one of the highlights of the 20th-century section. This work comes from the collection of Max-Pol Fouchet, a renowned man of culture, who was a poet, novelist, art historian, literary and music critic. This work was a gift from the artist to Max-Pol Fouchet after their meeting on the shooting of a documentary dedicated to the artist.

Fashion will also be represented with a few pieces by the daring avant-garde couturier Elsa Schiaparelli, from her personal archives and recorded by her granddaughter Marisa Berenson, as well as a few dresses by the famous Madame Grès, including a draped dress from the 1930s that was exhibited in the major retrospective La couture à l’œuvre at the Bourdelle Museum in 2011. The art of jewelry will also be present with a splendid necklace, made by the surrealist artist Leonor Fini, estimated at €10,000–15,000. It is a true sculpture-necklace stylizing ‘Horns’ in yellow gold, wearable as a head jewel or a torque necklace.

Finally, Christie’s will give carte blanche to Inès Longevial (b. 1990) who will occupy an exhibition space in parallel with the pre-sale exhibition. Longevial executes drawings and paintings in resonance with impressions, feelings, sensations from which she naturally extracts the palette. The artist approaches her memories in color and gives form to candid and absorbed faces. If, in the artist’s work, faces often become the site of whimsical ornamentation, finding their roots in a patchwork of bright colors through, this new series tends towards a greater simplicity and plays above all on chromatic variations. The silent attitude of this woman, declined in several ranges of colors and caught in a convoluted set of arms is inspired by several women artists such as Dorothea Tanning, Leonor Fini. The exhibition is created in collaboration with the Ketabi Projects gallery.

Artists and writers presented in the sale: Carole Benzaken, Claude Cahun, Anne Vallayer-Coster, Marie Curie, Dadamaino, Sonia Delaunay, Veuve Duvinage, Lavinia Fontana, Leonor Fini, Sarah Morris, Maria Lai, Marie Laurencin, Vernon Lee, Suzette Lemaire, Dora Maar, Louyse Moillon, Berthe Morisot, Meret Oppenheim, Alice Paalen, Alicia Penalba, Maria Pergay, Edith Piaf, Jiang Qiong Er, Bettina Rheims, Ayako Rokkaku, Niki de Saint Phalle, George Sand, Claire Stansfi, Dorothea Tanning, Boi Tran, Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Renée Vivien.

At Auction | Vase Designed by Thomas Hope

Posted in Art Market, museums by Editor on June 4, 2021

Gilt bronze-mounted patinated copper two-handled vase (detail) by Alexis Decaix, designed by Thomas Hope for his Duchess Street Mansion in London, ca. 1802–03, 26 × 13 × 12 inches (65 × 34 × 31 cm). Heritage Auctions, 18 June 2021, Sale 8046, Lot #61046, estimate: $40,000 to $60,000.

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From the press release, via Art Daily:

An extraordinarily rare and important early 19th-century urn, thought lost to history, was recently discovered by Heritage Auctions and is set to go to auction June 18 in Dallas, Texas (Sale 8046, Lot 61046). Designed by Thomas Hope, the urn was found in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the collection of David D. Denham, where it had been modified into a side table. Heritage has set a conservative pre-auction estimate of $40,000 to $60,000 on the rare bronze. According to research, the urn’s mate resides in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (M.33-1983), the world’s largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design.

Gilt bronze-mounted patinated copper two-handled vase by Alexis Decaix, designed by Thomas Hope for his Duchess Street Mansion in London, ca. 1802–03.

“This important discovery was a remarkable surprise,” said Karen Rigdon, Director of Fine & Decorative Art at Heritage Auctions. “No one knew where the urn was for decades until we recognized it during a house call.”

Hope commissioned the vase, decorated with ormolu (gilt-bronze) mounts, for the dining room of his mansion located on Duchess Street in London. It was made by acclaimed French artist Alexis Decaix based on Hope’s design, which mirrored a classical volute krater (an ancient Greek vase with two handles which was used for mixing wine and water). Hope likely commissioned the one-of-a-kind pair of bronze urns directly from Decaix. Experts working with Heritage matched the urn’s historical background with telltale details confirming the vase is the pair to the one at the V&A. The newly-discovered vase’s specific placement of the mask mounts at the obverse and reverse matched the vase in the museum’s collection, as does the placement of specific notches and scratches made to each vase.

Hope, the scion of a wealthy banking family, made his London home into an outstanding example of Neo-classical design. In 1807, Hope published in London an illustrated account of the house and its furnishings in a book titled Household Furniture and Interior Decoration. The book had a considerable influence on other architects and designers working in the Greek Revival style.

“The appearance of this second example confirms Hope clearly took great care to ensure the vases would be displayed in perfect harmony, which supports what is known about his incredibly meticulous nature and approach to collecting,” according to Hope experts Philip Hewat-Jaboor and William Iselin, who worked with Heritage to confirm the vase’s authenticity.

Heritage experts discovered the urn in Tulsa in the collection of the late David Denham. “Denham was a well-known social figure in the area and admired for his collector’s eye and meticulous attention to detail,” Rigdon said. “The estate is unsure when the vase first entered Denham’s collection or when it was made into a side table,” she added. “But its discovery closes a chapter on the unknown history of this important artwork.”

Online Talks from London Art Week, March 2021

Posted in Art Market, lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on March 14, 2021

John Carter, View of the Library at Strawberry Hill, watercolour, 23.7 × 28.8 cm, from Horace Walpole, A Description of the Villa … at Strawberry-Hill (Strawberry Hill, 1784). The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

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From the press release (via Art Daily) for this month’s Art History in Focus series:

London Art Week’s Art History in Focus
March 2021

Last October, London Art Week introduced a new series of interim online events, Art History in Focus. Another impressive line-up of insightful and lively talks is scheduled for March. All events will take place from 17.00 to 18.00 GMT.

16 March — The Female Artists, Actresses, and Playwrights of Strawberry Hill Theatricals

Introduced and moderated by Emanuela Tarizzo (Gallery Director of Tomasso Brothers Fine Art), this webinar will explore the role of female artists, actresses, and playwrights involved with theatre at Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill. The session will address illustrations of Walpole’s scandalous gothic play The Mysterious Mother by the artist Diana Beauclerk and the closet built to house them at Strawberry Hill. It will also touch on Walpole’s literary executor Mary Berry’s play Fashionable Friends, performed at Strawberry Hill with sets designed by her sister Agnes and with herself and the sculptor Anne Damer in the leading roles. Damer had a close relationship with the famous actress Eliza Farren, re-imagined in Emma Donoghue’s historical novel Life Mask.

Speakers include Judith Hawley (Professor of English, Royal Holloway, University of London), Cynthia Roman (Curator, Prints, Drawings, and Paintings, The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University), and Laura Engel (Professor of English, Duquesne University).

23 March — Medieval Women: Subjects and Makers of Art

Arranged with Sam Fogg in conjunction with their online exhibition Medieval Women: Subjects and Makers of Art (25 February – 31 March 2021), the session provides a tour of the exhibition in its gallery setting, accompanied by commentary and an in-depth look at select individual works. With Jana Gajdošová of Sam Fogg, curator of the Medieval Women exhibition, and Alexandra Gajewski FSA, reviews editor at The Burlington Magazine and from 2010 to 2015, senior researcher at the CSIC in Madrid on a European Research Council funded project called Reassessing the Roles of Women as Makers of Medieval Art and Architecture.

24 March — Dürer’s Journeys

An in-depth discussion of the much-heralded National Gallery exhibition Dürer’s Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist (opening soon) with Imogen Tedbury (National Gallery), Anthony Crichton-Stuart (Agnews), and Katrin Bellinger (Collector and Founder, Tavolozza Foundation). Dr. Tedbury is the Simon Sainsbury Curatorial Fellow for Paintings before 1500 at the National Gallery, where she is currently working on Dürer’s Journeys. Katrin Bellinger began collecting in 1985 in parallel to her career as a dealer in Old Master drawings; she was a partner at Colnaghi until the Gallery was sold in 2015. Fascinated by the artistic process and the mystique surrounding it, she chose to focus on one theme of the artist at work. She is a Trustee of the National Gallery and sits on the Board of the Tate.

25 March — Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age

Amina Wright, author of a new book on Thomas Lawrence’s first twenty-five years, discusses the early works of this young prodigy with LAW dealers Lowell Libson (Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd) and Ben Elwes (Ben Elwes Fine Art). Both galleries have recently handled early works by Lawrence that will feature in a forthcoming online exhibition at the website of the Holburne Museum in Bath entitled Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age. Registrants to this talk can benefit from a discount on the book of the same title written by Amina Wright (Philip Wilson Publishers).

29 March — The Impact of the 20th Century on Women Artists

Florrie Evans and Jo Baring discuss the views and barriers surrounding women artists in 20th-century Britain. In 1955 a review in The Times described Elisabeth Frink’s first solo show as “Here is a sculptor of rare promise, indeed of rare quality, for Miss Frink’s handling of the problems of sculptural form is such that one has to make no allowances for her youth, or her sex.” This will be a reference point for the talk in which Jo will focus on women sculptors in particular, and Florrie will look at some of the key female artists handled by The Fine Art Society.

London Art Week, 1–16 July 2021

London Art Week will take place as a dual aspect event: online in a digital format, allowing participants from across the globe to take part, and as physical exhibitions in galleries as local guidelines allow.

A new introduction to LAW Digital Summer 2021 will be Revolution and Renewal, an online themed exhibition. London Art Week is delighted to welcome as guest curator the art historian, curator, and scholar Arturo Galansino, Director General of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Well-known among the London Art Week community, Dr. Galansino has been invited to curate this special exhibition by the LAW Board who have long admired his exceptional track record in curating and co-curating incredible shows spanning Old Masters to contemporary art: from Moroni, Giorgione and Rubens at the Royal Academy to Ai Weiwei, Bill Viola and Marina Abramović at the Palazzo Strozzi. “It will be interesting to see what thread, narrow or broad, he weaves from the submitted works to Revolution and Renewal,” comments Amelia Higgins, Director, London Art Week.

“The online exhibition will have its own section on the LAW website,” explains Luce Garrigues, Director, London Art Week Digital, “and all participants will be invited to submit a work on the theme for consideration by Dr. Galansino. As a collegial, curator-led exhibition, Arturo will select his highlights and write his own introduction on the theme. To give our dealers greater voice, we will be asking each participant to explain why they submit their chosen work.”

Online Talk | A New Copley Acquisition

Posted in Art Market, museums, online learning by Editor on February 16, 2021

This Wednesday, from Vermont’s Shelburne Museum, as announced at ArtDaily:

Together Again: A New Acquisition Reunites a Pair of Copley Portraits
Online, Shelburne Museum, 17 February 2021, 6pm (ET)

Join Shelburne Museum director Tom Denenberg to learn about an exciting new acquisition for the Museum’s American painting collection and the intriguing circumstances that led to the reunion of a long-separated couple.

The Shelburne Museum has acquired a portrait by John Singleton Copley entitled Mrs. Mercy Scollay (née Mercy Greenleaf), a pendant painting to the portrait in the museum’s permanent collection, Mr. John Scollay, reuniting the long-separated portraits of wife and husband, Shelburne Museum.

John Singleton Copley, Portrait of Mrs. Mercy Scollay, 1763, 90 × 71 cm (Shelburne, VT: Shelburne Museum).

John Scollay, a chairman of the Boston Board of Selectmen and member of the Sons of Liberty, commissioned Copley (1738–1815), the preeminent portraiture artist in the American colonies, for this portrait of his wife as a pendant to his own portrait. Completed in 1763, Mrs. Scollay’s portrait demonstrates Copley’s talents and abilities as a painter as evidenced through the beautifully rendered fabric draped around the sitter.

Shelburne Museum founder Electra Havemeyer Webb assembled the American paintings collection with the intention of juxtaposing well-known artists such as Copley with lesser-known itinerant or ‘folk’ painters. She purchased the portrait of John Scollay from Harry Shaw Newman at the Old Print Shop in New York City in 1959. The Museum’s extensive collection of American paintings tell a story about how the fine arts developed and came of age in the United States, and the reunion of these pendants continues to enrich the narrative.

The museum is presenting a webinar on the new acquisition and the story of how these two paintings were reunited. Denenberg will discuss the intriguing circumstances that led to the reunion of the long-separated couple. The evening will be a tale of revolutionary Boston, featuring the young John Singleton Copley and his portraits of Mercy Greenleaf and John Scollay. Live Q&A follows the presentation. Together Again: A New Acquisition Reunites a Pair of Copley Portraits is at 6pm on Wednesday, February 17. To register visit the museum’s website.

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The portrait of Mrs. Mercy Scollay sold at Sotheby’s American Art sale on 11 December 2020 (Lot 23) for $126,000.

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) as part of its Americana Week:

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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.