At Sotheby’s | The Female Triumphant

Posted in Art Market by Editor on February 3, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Female Triumphant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full press release is available here

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

At Sotheby’s | Jewels Owned by Marie Antoinette

Posted in Art Market by Editor on October 2, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Jewels of Marie Antoinette

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Jewels from the French Royal Family

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

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

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

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

Royal Treasures of Austria

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

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

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

Tour Dates

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

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

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


London Art Week, Summer 2018 / Painting by Joseph Wright

Posted in Art Market by Editor on July 5, 2018

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

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Press release for London Art Week, via Art Daily:

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

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

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

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

Further highlights among paintings offered at London Art Week include:

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

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

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

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

London Art Week, Summer 2018 / Launch of Tomasso XXV

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

From London Art Week:

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

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

From the press release for Tomasso Brothers Fine Art:

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

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

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

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

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

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

At Sotheby’s | Imperial Vase Sells for €16.2million

Posted in Art Market by Editor on June 14, 2018

Jingdezhen Imperial Workshops, Yangcai Famille Rose Vase Depicting Five Cranes and Nine Deer, Qing Dynasty, eighteenth century, reign of the Qianlong emperor. Details are available here.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Press release (12 June 2018) from Sotheby’s:

Arts d’Asie: PF1837, PF1807
Sotheby’s, Paris, 12 June 2018

The summer Sotheby’s sale dedicated to Asian Arts ended with a total of nearly €30 million ($35.4m), triple the June 2017 results and the highest total ever for an Asian art sale in France. The sale got off to an explosive start with the auction record achieved in France by the extraordinary recently-discovered treasure of Imperial China: a unique Imperial 18th-century yangcai famille rose porcelain vase, bearing a mark from the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736–1795). After a 20-minute bidding battle, the vase sold for €16.2 million ($19m) against an estimate of €500,000–700,000.

Olivier Valmier, specialist in Asian Art, said: “The discovery of an imperial treasure like this, found in a French attic for nearly a century, was an extraordinary adventure culminating in the record price achieved today. France is full of lost treasures just waiting to be discovered. As specialists, our work is to reveal them to collectors the world over.”

Sotheby’s had unveiled this extraordinary rediscovered treasure of imperial China during a press conference in Paris. Discovered by chance in the attic of a French family home, this magnificent vase was brought into Sotheby’s Paris by its unsuspecting owners in a shoe box. When Sotheby’s specialist Olivier Valmier, opened the box to examine the vase, he was immediately struck by its quality. Further research revealed the vase to be a unique example produced by the finest craftsmen for the Qianlong Emperor.

The vase is of exceptional rarity; the only known example of its kind, it was produced by the Jingdezhen workshops for the magnificent courts of the Qianlong Emperor. Famille rose porcelains of the period (or yangcai porcelains) are extremely rare on the market, with most examples currently housed in the National Palace Museum in Taipei and other museums around the world.

The second session (sale PF1807) continued with the sale of a group of twenty-eight Chinese paintings, calligraphies, and rubbings. Originally part of a large and important collection of Chinese art formed in China in the early 20th century, these works were only recently rediscovered. They had been passed down in the family and were originally collected by their great uncle, a prosperous German businessman and prominent member of the international foreign community in Beijing and Tianjin in the early decades of the 20th century and probably in the circle of Duan Fang (1861–1911). The collection totals €10.6 million ($12.5m), an auction record for a collection of Chinese paintings in France. During this session, two lots fetched prices of over one million euro. The most sought-after consisted of ‘regulated’ poems by Empress Yang, assembled by Qian Fu, with thirty-four collectors’ stamps (lot 34). Estimated at between €10,000 and €15,000, they inspired a battle all the way up to €2,465,450 ($2,901,761).

From the time of the First Emperor, an item bearing witness to the unification of Chinese writing, one of the most important pieces in this collection with a Duan Fang provenance is a very rare rubbing of an inscription taken from the Taishan Twenty-Nine Character Stele, mounted as a scroll and with a frontispiece by Duan Fang (lot 18). Bidders chased it all the way up to €1,929,000 ($2,270,375). It is extremely rare to find a rubbing of the Taishan stele with twenty-nine characters. Only a few have come down to us, including the example on sale today.

The day ended with a sale dedicated to Asian art works belonging to various amateurs and European collections. Bids were competitive for a carved Zitan ‘dragon’ cabinet, Qing dynasty, a masterpiece of cabinetmaking illustrating the splendour of Qianlong imperial furniture (lot 144). Rediscovered in the collection of film producer Serge Sandberg, it was sold for €393,000 ($462,549). An important polychrome stucco figure of Guanyin, Ming dynasty, 15th century (lot 184), fetched €237,000 ($278,942). Last, an impressively large blue and white bajixiang moonflask, Qianlong seal mark and period (lot 155), provided further proof of imperial artists’ talent. Its decoration of bajixiang, the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism, framed by lotus petals, clearly appealed to collectors, who took the bidding up to €237,000 ($278,942).

Symposium | The Architecture of James Gibbs

Posted in Art Market by Editor on June 7, 2018

From The Georgian Group:

The Architecture of James Gibbs
Society of Antiquaries of London, 29 September 2018

Andrea Soldi, Portrait of James Gibbs, ca. 1750 (Edinbrugh: National Galleries of Scotland, Scottish National Portrait Gallery).

Following successful conferences sponsored by the Group in previous years on John Nash and the Adam Brothers, the Georgian Group is organising a day-long symposium on the work of James Gibbs (1682–1754). Born in Scotland and trained in Rome, Gibbs was one of the most important British architects of the eighteenth century, responsible for such well-known buildings such as the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London and the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, and for many other commissions, both public and private, throughout the British Isles. He also published one of the most influential of all eighteenth-century architectural pattern books, as a result of which his influence spread throughout the worldwide British diaspora. Drawing upon recent research, the symposium will reassess, and throw new light upon, his achievement and its significance for the understanding of Georgian architecture.

The symposium will be held from 10am to 5.15pm and will be led by Dr Geoffrey Tyack, editor of The Georgian Group Journal. Speakers will include leading authorities on eighteenth-century British architecture and decorative art—among them Andrew Martindale, Peter Guillery, Richard Hewlings, Charles Hind, Hugh Petter, and Alec Cobbe—and younger scholars. There will be papers on Gibbs’s Scottish background and his training in Rome; his work in London; his university buildings in Oxford and Cambridge; his country houses in both Britain and Ireland; his contribution to interior design, with special reference to plasterwork; his transatlantic influence; his portrait busts; and his relevance to the classical architecture of our own day.

Following the symposium there will be a reception at the church of St Peter, Vere Street (just north of Oxford Street), built to Gibbs’s designs in 1721–24, with superb plasterwork by the Swiss-Italian plasterers Artari and Bagutti.

Student tickets: A number of tickets at reduced rates are available for students registered on a degree-level course (both full-time and part-time).


9.30  Registration

10.00  Opening address

Session 1
• Andrew Martindale, ‘Mr Gibbs, the Scottish Architect’
• William Aslet, Gibbs: Knowledge and the Fashioning of a Professional Reputation in London
• Alex Echlin, James Gibbs and the historiography of Early Eighteenth-Century English Architecture


Session 2
• Peter Guillery, James Gibbs and the Cavendish-Harley Estate in Marylebone
• Geoffrey Tyack, Gibbs in Cambridge and Oxford
• Ann-Marie Akehurst, Inferior to None: James Gibbs, the Royal Naval Hospital at Stonehouse, and l’affaire de l’Hotel-Dieu

Session 3
• Richard Hewlings, Gibbs’s Scale Bars
• Jenny Saunt, Ornament and the Architect: James Gibbs’s Interactions with Decorative Plasterwork and Furniture


Session 4
• Ricky Pound, James Gibbs and the Octagon Room at James Johnston’s Villa at Twickenham
• Pete Smith, Gibbs at Kiveton Park, Yorkshire
• Alec Cobbe, The Path of a James Gibbs Discovery: Newbridge House, Ireland


Session 5
• Michael Bevington, James Gibbs and His Garden Buildings at Stowe: Inventor and Mentor
• Charles Hind, Transatlantic Influence: A Book of Architecture and the American Colonies
• Dana Josephson, Portrait Busts of Gibbs: New Discoveries
• Hugh Petter, James Gibbs and the Enduring Legacy of Popular Classical Architecture

5.45 Reception at St Peter, Vere Street

Tomasso Brothers Fine Art at TEFAF 2018

Posted in Art Market by Editor on March 10, 2018

Giovanni Battista Cipriani, Castor and Pollux, 1783, oil on canvas, 275 × 316cm.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Tomasso Brothers Fine Art at TEFAF
Maastricht, 8–18 March 2018

Tomasso Brothers Fine Art is pleased to report a number of significant sales at the TEFAF early access day, 8 March 2018, including a large oil on canvas by Giovanni Battista Cipriani (1727–1785) depicting Castor and Pollux that sold to a private collector within moments of the Fair’s opening. The asking price was in the region of 425,000€. This impressive neoclassical work was commissioned in 1783 by George Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford for the Saloon at Houghton Hall along with two further mythological scenes. It remained in situ at Houghton until well in to the 20th century when it was purchased by The Rt. Hon. John Armar Lowry-Corry, 8th Earl Belmore of Castle Coole, Enniskillen and placed on public display.

The gallery also made an important sale to a new buyer, a private European collector, of a pair of monumental marble lion groups attributed to Giovanni Battista Foggini (1652–1725) and his workshop. Depicting a lion attacking a horse and a lion attacking a bull, the pair was offered for a price in the region of 1.75 million€.

Equestrian Monument of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, marble, after the antique bronze now in the Musei Capitolini (Rome, 18th century).

The works featured by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art at this year’s TEFAF Maastricht are inspired by Rome and classical Italy, dating from the ancient to the neoclassical. Other highlights include:
• The Forbes of Pitsligo Vases in white marble with corresponding plinths, attributed to Lorenzo Bartolini (1777–1850) made in Florence, ca. 1815–1830.
• An imposing Equestrian Monument of Emperor Marcus Aurelius in statuary marble, after the antique bronze now in the Musei Capitolini (Rome, 18th century).
• An exquisite Carrara marble sculpture by Cav. Emanuele Caroni (1826–after 1895) L’Amour Vainqueur de la Force, The Triumph of Love over Strength (Florence, ca. 1867).

Tomasso Brothers’ stand features original wallpaper designed by the gallery in-house. The design was inspired by the roman painted walls discovered in the region of the Bay of Naples, but perhaps most specifically, by a particular wall originating from the Villa di Agrippa Postumus at Boscotrecase (ca. 1st century BC – 1st century AD), which was painted in the ‘Third’ or ‘Ornate’ style of ancient wall fresco design, that flourished during the reign of Augustus. The idea of placing old master paintings and sculptures within a beautiful decorative scheme inspired by discoveries made at Pompeii and Herculaneum is essentially neoclassical in spirit, following the tradition established by the great architects and interior designers of the eighteenth century such as James ‘Athenian’ Stuart (1713–1788) for Spencer House, London (1759); Robert Adam (1728–1792) perhaps most notably at London’s Kenwood House, Osterley Park and Syon House; Joseph Bonomi (1739–1808) for Packington Hall, Warwickshire; and Sir John Soane (1753–1837) for the ‘Council Chamber’ at London’s Guildhall (1777).

Galleria Antonacci Lapiccirella at TEFAF 2018

Posted in Art Market by Editor on March 6, 2018

Press release, via Art Daily (5 March 2018) . . .

Galleria Antonacci Lapiccirella Fine Art at TEFAF
Maastricht, 8–18 March 2018

Antonio Canova, ‘Self-Portrait’ of Giorgione, 1792, oil on wood, 72.5 × 64 cm.

The Galleria Antonacci Lapiccirella Fine Art will be showing once again this year at TEFAF Maastricht 2018, bringing an exceptionally interesting selection of works of art to its stand. Tireless research, matchless skill and competence, scrupulous documentation, the aspiration to total quality, an international vision and unflagging enthusiasm are the qualities for which Francesca Antonacci and Damiano Lapiccirella are known at the highest level in the art world. The selection of works they present this year is inspired by their gallery’s profound interest in painting from the neoclassical era to the early 20th century.

Among the works on show stands out an unpublished painting by Antonio Canova on public display for the very first time; it constitutes a major rediscovery and marks a significant addition to our knowledge of the great sculptor’s work as a painter. The painting in question is a ‘Self-Portrait’ of Giorgione, 1792, an oil painting on wood, 72.5 × 64 cm, still housed in its magnificent original carved and gilded frame made in Rome, which the gallery knows to have been commissioned by Roman Senator Prince Abbondio Rezzonico, the young sculptor’s great protector and patron who was the picture’s first owner.

The most authoritative sources for Canova’s life narrated this fascinating story: Canova himself had skillfully painted the portrait on a 16th-century panel painting of the Holy Family, the image of which has been traced through reflectography and infrared inspection, taking as his model a portrait of Giorgione. Prince Rezzonico was also an accomplice in the bizarre story of the trick that Canova played on the greatest artists then present in Rome, who were invited to dine at the Senator’s home and shown this painting, which was palmed off as an original self-portrait of Giorgione. They all adored it, thanks also to the mastery with which it had been painted, and acclaimed it to a man as an authentic work by the Venetian 16th-century painter. This exemplary story points up Canova’s love of the glorious tradition of Venetian painting, in which he also sought inspiration for his sculpture.

The gallery’s passion for Italian painting is borne out in the first instance by a rare and precious oil painting by Giovanni Boldini depicting a Female Nude, dated to around 1890, which was shown for the first time in Forlì in 2015 at the most important monographic exhibition ever devoted to this Ferrara-born artist entitled Giovanni Boldini and the Spectacle of Modernity, testifying to the international renown that Boldini achieved in the 19th century in Paris, then the undisputed capital of modern art. The picture is remarkable for its rich, vibrant strength, for its freedom of expression and for the dynamic and impetuous brushwork, the characteristic hallmark with which Boldini succeeded in capturing the seductive sensuality of the female body. The young model reclines with nonchalance on an unmade bed, her hair loose, her eyes closed, emanating a strong erotic charge while maintaining an ineffable, sophisticated elegance.

The gallery will also highlight the enormous art historical interest of three very fine paintings by Giulio Aristide Sartorio, 1906. The panels in question constitute an important rediscovery of parts of a large decorative frieze entitled From the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Most Recent Achievements of Science, which Sartorio made for the Lazio Room at the Esposizione Internazionale del Sempione in Milan in 1906. The frieze, an oil on canvas painted en grisaille, consisted in a cycle of panels with which Sartorio set out to illustrate “Italy’s driving energy in history, ferrying the classical ideal into the modern world” and which critics hailed as one of his most successful decorative ventures to date. In the three panels on display, entitled From the Great Discoveries, through the Gloomy Ages, to the Living Revival of the Race; From the Myth of Brute Forces Tamed to the Most Recent Achievements of Science; and The Advent of Art and Culture respectively, Sartorio gives us a foretaste, in the development of his composition, in his sophisticated, elegant style and in the fluid and dynamic movement of his figures, of what was to be his greatest monumental work ever, the decoration of the parliamentary auditorium at the Palazzo di Montecitorio in Rome a few years later.

A large canvas entitled Spring dated 1925 by Cagnaccio di San Pietro, one of Italy’s greatest Hyperrealist artists, displays the artist’s delineated, compact and meticulous brushwork and unique, almost vitreous enamelled palette that were the manifesto of ‘Magical Realism’, an artistic trend which developed in Italy in the 1920s and which had a clear affinity with the Neue Sachlichkeit, or New Objectivity, and the Magischer Realismus of northern Europe. The painting, from a prestigious Italian private collection, has revealed a fascinating and hitherto unknown history: thanks to in-depth research and to an X-ray inspection performed during cleaning, it was discovered that the picture was first shown at Ca’ Pesaro in Venice in 1923 under the title Spring, while two years later the artist, who, in the meantime, had acquired a greater awareness of the philosophy underlying his work, felt the need in the prevailing climate of ‘Magical Realism’ to eliminate the excessively obvious naturalism from the work, thus de facto turning the painting into the manifesto of this new trend in art. On that occasion he signed it and dated it 1925, and showed it from that moment on under the title The Two Sisters or The Letter.

Established in 1988, TEFAF is widely regarded as the world’s pre-eminent organization of fine art, antiques, and design. TEFAF runs three Fairs internationally—TEFAF Maastricht, which covers 7,000 years of art history; TEFAF New York Spring, focused on modern and contemporary art and design; and TEFAF New York Fall, covering fine and decorative art from antiquity to 1920. TEFAF champions the finest quality art from across the ages by creating a community of the world’s top art dealers and experts to inspire lovers and buyers of art everywhere.

Jonny Yarker Joins Lowell Libson

Posted in Art Market by Editor on January 17, 2018

Press release (January 2017) from Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd:

Lowell Libson Ltd is delighted to announce that from January 2018 it will be trading as Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd. Lowell Libson is one of the great names in the world of London dealing: for the last seventeen years his gallery has been synonymous with British paintings, drawings, and sculpture of the highest quality. It is unusual for a gallery owner, with over forty years’ experience and his name above the door to embrace such a radical transformation, and it signals an important change for the future.

“Jonny joined the business five years ago and during that time we have worked very happily and successfully together. Jonny has made a huge impact on the gallery, and he has played an extremely significant role in developing the business with me; now is the right time to recognize this working partnership in a tangible way,” Lowell Libson commented. “I am very excited about the future, Jonny is a talented dealer, a leading scholar and a good friend and I look forward to our new venture together.”

Jonny Yarker had recently finished his PhD when Lowell approached him to come and work at the gallery. “I admired Lowell long before I met him. He had this amazing reputation for supporting scholarship and exhibitions of British art; I remember when I was a student seeing his name everywhere,” says Yarker, “Little did I think I would end up working with him.” Libson has a reputation for supporting innovative scholarship in British art and the gallery has sponsored major exhibitions at the Royal Academy, British Museum, Courtauld, Ashmolean, and Morgan Library and Museum in New York.

With Jonny on board, the company’s outlook became more routed in research and their projects were able to become more ambitious. For example, in 2014 they mounted the largest selling exhibition of drawings by Gainsborough for a century. Lowell and Jonny have also recently made a number of notable discoveries including newly identified works by Samuel Palmer, John Constable, Johan Zoffany as well uncovering a previously unknown cache of drawings by Sir Peter Lely.

Each brings complimentary talents to the business (as Libson says, “It’s not particularly constructive working with a clone of oneself”). They see their great strength as a willingness to embrace change and think laterally. “We operate in an apparently narrow field, but Lowell has an amazing ability to reinvent what we do, at the same time preserving a continuity of taste,” Yarker observes.

In March, the gallery will be exhibiting at the Salon du dessin in Paris for the first time and in July they will mount a major exhibition of drawings made in Britain before 1730. Libson has been collecting for the exhibition for over a decade but observes: “Jonny has really made the project his own, he has brought an academic rigour and flair to my initial idea; it is going to be a truly groundbreaking exhibition, I can’t wait!”

This is the essence of what Libson and Yarker do: bring high levels of scholarship and their own personal taste to British art. It is a formula that has won them an international group of clients, both institutional and private.

UK Export Ban Placed on Guardi’s ‘Rialto Bridge’

Posted in Art Market by Editor on January 8, 2018

Francesco Guardi, The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, late-1760s, oil on canvas, 120 × 204 cm. Probably commissioned in Venice in 1768 by Chaloner Arcedeckne, in whose family it remained for the next 123 years, when it was acquired by Sir Edward Cecil Guinness, later 1st Earl of Iveagh, then by descent and inheritance.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Press release (5 January 2018) from Gov.UK’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport:

Arts Minister John Glen has placed a temporary export bar on The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi by Francesco Guardi to provide an opportunity to keep it in the country. The extraordinary painting is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £26,796,000 (including VAT of £591,000).

With its masterful colouring and dynamic composition in which a series of gondolas bisect the Grand Canal, The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi showcases Guardi’s atmospheric style and the elegant depiction of light that would come to dominate his later works. Arguably Guardi’s masterpiece, the painting is considered to be one of the ultimate expressions of Venetian vedute, or view painting. Alongside Canaletto and his nephew Bellotto, Guardi was one of the great Venetian view painters of the 18th century. He was much admired in the 19th century for his impressionistic depictions of Venice and the Lagoon, which inspired many generations of artists visiting the city, most significantly Turner. The painting is believed to have been commissioned in 1768 by the relatively unknown grand tourist, Chaloner Arcedeckne, making it of great importance to the study of the British relationship with Venice and Grand Tour commissions.

Arts Minister John Glen said: “This magnificent painting is a true masterpiece that encapsulates the vibrant atmosphere and light of 18th-century Venice. I very much hope that it can be kept in the UK, where it can be appreciated and admired by future generations for many years to come.”

The decision to defer the export licence follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by The Arts Council.

RCEWA member Aidan Weston-Lewis said: “At more than six feet across, this beautifully composed, bustling view of one of the classic stretches of the Grand Canal is one of the most spectacular and attractive Venetian view paintings in this country. Commissioned by a British visitor to Venice in the late 1760s, it has remained in the UK ever since and has frequently been on public display. Its departure from these shores would be a regrettable loss.”

The RCEWA made its recommendation on the grounds of the painting’s outstanding aesthetic importance and outstanding significance for the study of the development of Guardi, Venetian view painting, and the study of Grand Tour patronage and taste. The decision on the export licence application for the painting will be deferred until 4 July 2018. This may be extended until 4 January 2019 if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase it is made at the recommended price of £26,796,000 (including VAT of £591,000). Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the painting should contact the RCEWA.