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Old Master Paintings

Including 40 Restituted Paintings from the Goudstikker Collection and a Turner Restituted to the Heirs of John and Anna Jaffé

Christie's

April 19, 2007

Sale 1822


"Ferry Boat" by van Ruysdael

Lot 35, "Ferry Boat with cattle on the River Vecht near Nijenrode," by Salomon van Ruysdael, oil on panel, 22 7/8 by 33 inches, 1649, photograph ©Christie's

By Michele Leight

Jacques Goudstikker was a major art dealer in the Netherlands whose collection of Old Master paintings was confiscated by the Nazis in July 1940 and recovered by the Allies in 1945 and turned over the Dutch Government. In February, 2006, the Dutch Government agreed to restitute 200 paintings to the dealer's heirs and 40 of them will be offered by Christie's April 19, 2007, followed by a second auction will be held in London July 5, 2007 and a third will be held in Amsterdam November 14, 2007.

In addition to the Goudstikker paintings, the April 19 auction also includes a painting by Joseph Mallord Turner that was recently restituted to the heirs of John and Anna Jaffee as well as fine Venetian scenes by Bernardo Belloto and Antonio Canaletto, a great Madonna and Child work by Cima da Conegliano, a wonderful group of four small rondos by Brueghel, a fabulous hedgehog bodycolor on vellum by Giovanna Garzoni Piceno, and an interesting work by El Greco.

Christie's anticipates that the auction will total about $50 million. The sale total was $54,311,200 and 174 of 261 offered lots sold. Part One of the Goudstikke Collection, which Christie's said was "arguably the most important collection of Old Master pictures ever restituted," had 45 lots and totaled $9,741,200."

A contemporary of Joseph Duveen, whose father was also born in Holland, Goudstikker was the son of an Amsterdam art dealer. Both Duveen and Goudstikker outstripped their father's success, establishing themselves as international art dealers and connoisseurs. Like Duveen, Goudstikker's importance lies in the scope of his connoisseurship, reflected in his catalogues by an innovative mixture of 14th, 15th, and 16th century Dutch, Flemish, French, German and Italian painters, and fine examples of art from the Dutch Golden Age.

Jacques Goudstikker, his wife, and only son, fled Holland on May 14, 1940, when the Nazi troops invaded, forcing him to leave behind his gallery and 1400 paintings. However, he took a notebook with him in which he had carefully documented 1,000 of his precious art works. Hermann Goering looted the abandoned gallery with the help of Alois Miedl, (who occupied it as an 'art dealer' for some time), taking the best of the collection back to Germany. The Allies returned about 289 of the paintings from the Goudstikker Collection to the Dutch Government after the war, anticipating they would be restituted to the family. Instead, the Dutch authorities retained them, incorporating them into the Dutch national collection.

In 1940, Jacques Goudstikker died tragically in an accident on the boat destined for safety and America. Almost 58 years later, in 1998 the Goudstikker heirs began lengthy legal proceedings to reclaim his paintings, assisted by Lawrence M. Kaye and Howard N. Spiegler, international art lawyers at Herrick, Feinstein, LLP, in New York. In 2006, on the advice of its Restitution Committee, the Dutch Government restituted 200 pictures that were stolen from Jacques Goudstikker's gallery to his widow and heir, Marei von Saher.

"We have been privileged to work with Marei and her family and are delighted with her victory in the Netherlands," says Lawrence Kaye. "There is, however, much that remains to be done. The paintings restituted by the Dutch Government represents only a fraction of what was lost, and our work to recover the other looted paintings continues. We trust that museums and other collectors who have artworks wrongfully taken from Jacques Goudstikker will follow the lead of the Dutch Government and return them."

The family has established a research project directed by the well-known art recovery specialist Clemens Toussaint to identify and locate hundreds of other missing paintings, employing art historians throughout Europe and in America in possibly the most comprehensive research project ever undertaken to locate a single-owner art collection stolen by the Nazis. It is their goal to find all of them.

One of the best Goudstikker works in the auction is Lot 35, a superb and gorgeous landscape by Salomon van Ruysdael (1600/3-1670) that is entitled "Ferry Boat with cattle on the River Vecht near Nijenrode." Dated 1649, the oil on panel measures 22 7/8 by 33 inches. It has a modest estimate of $3,000,000 to $5,000,000. It sold for $2,280,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

The Dutch masters were the first to feature landscape as a subject itself, and this glorious example is as naturalistic and saturated with light as most paintings of the same era were often dark with religious, allegorical or mythological subjects, or portraits commissioned by important pillars of society, noblemen and merchants. The atmospheric Ruysdael painting, reminiscent of many other great landscape painters of a later date who were influenced by him.

"Saint Lucy with a female patron" by Casentino

"Saint Lucy with a female patron," by Jacopo del Casentino, tempera and gold on panel, 51 3/8 by 26 5/8 inches, photograph © Christie's

Another important Goudstikker work is Lot 12, "Saint Lucy with a female patron," by Jacopo del Casentino (circa 1300-1349), a lovely tempera and gold and panel that measures 51 3/8 by 26 5/8 inches. It has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It failed to sell.

"The Judgment of Paris" by Boucher

Lot 44, "The Judgment of Paris," by Francois Boucher, oil on canvas, en grisaille, 53 3/4 by 75 3/4 inches, photograph © Christie's

Another outstanding work among the Goudstikker pictures is Lot 44, "The Judgment of Paris," by Francois Boucher (1703-1770), an oil on canvas, en grisaille, that measures 53 3/4 by 75 3/4 inches. It has a quite modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $360,000.

Boucher treated this subject at least three times and this painting is, according to the catalogue, closely related to a small oval picture he made for the Prince de Conti. "The beautifully preserved canvas is unusual for its type and scale. Executed almost as a massive drawing in paint, it is brushed in subtle tones of grey, black, white and pink. Such sketches, or grisailles, are not unusual in Boucher's oeuvre, but the scale of this one is unique. Perhaps this was painted as a preparatory design for a tapestry," the catalogue entry stated.

"Glaucus and Scylla" by Turner

Lot 122, "Glaucus and Scylla," by Joseph Mallord William Turner, oil on panel, 30 7/8 by 30 1/2 inches

The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, recently restituted to the heirs of John and Anna Jaffé a painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), "Glaucus and Scylla." The oil on panel measures 30 7/8 by 30 1/2 inches and had been illegally seized by French pro-Nazi officials during World War II. Alain Monteagle, a teacher in France, conducted an investigation into the painting and contacted the Kimbell in September 2005 with his research. John Jaffé was a prominent Jewish art collection who live at the Villa Jaffé in Nice and had acquired the painting in 1902 from the Sedelmeyer Gallery in Paris. He bequeathed the painting to his wife who bequeathed it to three nephews and a niece. Mrs. Jaffé died in Nice in 1942 and the Vichy authorities disregarded her bequest and seized her home and sold its contents at auction in July 1943. In 1956, Emile Leitz of Paris sold it to Agnew's of London which sold it to Howard Young Galleries in New York in 1957 and it was owned by a Mrs. Chamberlain until 1966 when Newhouse Galleries Inc. sold it to the Kimball Art Foundation.

This painting was exhibited, in a circular frame, at The Royal Academy in 1841, the same year as "La Donna della Salute and San Giorgio," which was sold by Christies in April, 2006, for $35.9 million in New York, setting a new auction record for Turner. Christie's offered four other paintings that were restituted to the family in 2005, including "The Grand Canal, Venice, with the Palazzo Bembo," by Francesco Guardi, purchased by the Getty Museum for $7,605,488.

The lot has a modest estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It sold for $6,424,000 to Richard Feigen who bought it back for the Kimbell Museum.

Madonna and Child by Cima

Lot 64, "The Madonna and Child in a Landscape," by Cima da Conegliano, oil on panel, 28 3/4 by 23 3/8 inches

One of the most beautiful works in the auction is Lot 64, "The Madonna and Child in a Landscape," by Cima da Conegliano (1459/60-1517-8). It is an oil on panel that mreasures 28 3/4 by 23 3/8 inches. It has a modest estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $3,400,000, a world record price for the artist at auction.


Piazza San Marco by Canaletto

Lot 117, "The Piazza San Marco, Venice, looking towards the Procuratie Nuove and the Church of San Geminiano from the Campo di San Basso," by Giovanni Antonio Canal, il Canaletto, oil on canvas, 18 5/8 by 30 inches

Lovers of Venice, and those who dream of going to this ethereal city will be dazzled by two breathtaking Venetian scenes, Canaletto's "The Piazza San Marco, looking towards the Procuratie Nuova and the Church of San Geminiano from the Campo di San Basso," and "The Grand Canal at the Church of San Stae, Venice," by his brilliant young nephew Bernardo Bellotto. These sumptuous art works reflect the continuous fascination of artists throughout history with this exquisite city on the water, including Turner, whose depiction of a scene close in proximity to these two canvasses earned him the title of the highest record for a British painting at auction.

Lot 117, "The Piazza San Marco, Venice, looking towards the Procuratie Nuove and the Church of San Geminiano from the Campo di San Basso," is a good work by Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto (1697-1768). An oil on canvas, it measures 18 5/8 by 30 inches. It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It failed to sell. It had been acquired by Thomas Brand of The Hoo, Kimpton, Hertfordshire, as one of a set of four in the 18th Century and was sold in 1953 to the Matthiesen Gallery in London and then went into a private collection in Geneva from which it was acquired by the present European owner circa 1973. This painting originally formed part of a set of four that date to the 1730s, the decade when Canaletto produced what is generally regarded as his most 'characteristic' work, and the catalogue notes that this work "would undoubtedly be better known had it not been hidden from public view," adding that "The only other painting of the present subject accepted...as a work of Canaletto was a much larger canvas (45 x 60 in.) seen...at Castle Howard, but destroyed in the fire there in November 1940 and only known from a photograph in the Castle Howard archives."

"The Grand Canal at the Church of San Stae" by Belloto

Lot 113, "The Grand Canal at the Church of San Stae, Venice," by Bernardo Belloto, oil on canvas, 29 1/4 by 50 3/4 inches


Lot 113, "The Grand Canal at the Church of San Stae, Venice," by Bernardo Belloto (1721-1780), is a much larger and prettier work than the Canaletto. It has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000. It sold for $11,016,000, a world record price for the artist at auction.

It is almost impossible to believe that the painting by Bellotto offered at this sale is the creation of a teenager - but it was. Unlike his more famous uncles' magnificent depiction of Venice, featuring mainly glorious buildings and the Piazza San Marco, young Bellotto unleashed his virtuoso artistic and technical skills on sky and water, (notoriously difficult subjects to render in paint), while Venice's incomparable architecture provides an anchor for the predominating blue.

The expressionistic brushwork in the Bellotto, far ahead of its time, is a forerunner of the innovative, impressionistic canvasses of Manet, Monet, and other great artists of modern times. Bellotto, savvy as well as hugely talented, used a smaller picture by his uncle Canaletto, (painted for the Duke of Marlborough), as a reference point for this painting. His exuberant, bold style and personality dominates this composition, whose most dazzling feature is the glassy water embossed with dainty, calligraphic ripples. Relatives can be extremely useful at times, especially if they happen to be Canaletto.

Both these gorgeously lit, atmospheric outdoor Venetian scenes were created over a century after the Ruysdael featured in this sale, which features almost as much sky and water. Turner was born in 1775, and was no doubt inspired by all three of these great artists of the outdoors, and most of all by Venice, where he could wield his brush and his glorious imagination to his heart's content.

"Boy Lighting a Candle" by El Greco

Lot 61, "El Soplón (Boy Lighting a candle)," by El Greco, oil on canvas, 24 by 20 inches

El Greco's (1541-1614) "Boy Lighting a Candle," Lot 51, an oil on canvas that measures 24 by 20 inches and has an estimate of $5 million to $7 million. It sold for $540,000. It was painted in Rome in the early 1570s. It is one of two autographed versions of the same composition, and the subject of a number of copies that affirm its popularity in the 16th century. In these days of abundant imagery from a multitude of sources, it is hard to imagine a world without art reproductions; back then it was a hand painted version by the artist, or numerous copies by the artist, or none at all. This painting has an impressive and unquestionable provenance, as well as being a winsome, mysterious and wonderful work of art. El Greco is famous for his emotionally charged canvasses, elongated, expressive forms, and landscapes, that verge on the abstract, a truly original approach in his day.

The style of this painting, which is the property of Virginia Kraft Payson, is very, very close to that of Jacopo Bassano.

Rondos by Pieter Brueghel II

Lots 49 and 51, "The Nest Robber" and "Filling the Well," by Pieter Brueghel II, 7 inches in diameter

The auction also has four charming rondos, Lots 48 to 51, by Pieter Brueghel II (1564/5-1637-8) that also come from Virginia Kraft Payson. Each of these small circular paintings has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. Lot 48 sold for $622,400. Lot 49 sold for $480,000. Lot 50 sold for $689,600. Lot 51 sold for $540,000.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Pieter Brueghel the Younger's work revolved around the world of Flemish peasants and village scenes created by his father, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (b. 1525), and evoked in any number of literary and visual forms ever since. Pieter the Younger spent his life producing copies and versions of his father's paintings, in great demand throughout Europe almost immediately upon the artist's death in 1569, and the subject of Flemish proverbs was among his most famous. This series of four roundels, together since the late nineteenth century, relates to three of Pieter the Elder's works on the theme: his series of roundels in Antwerp (Mayer van den Bergh), his Flemish proverbs of 1559 in Berlin (Staatliche Museum), and his Nest robber of 1568 in Vienna (Kunsthistorisches Museum)."

Portrait of Jane Austen by Humphry

Lot 120, "The Rice Portrait of Jane Austen," by Ozias Humphry, oil on canvas, 56 by 36 1/2 inches, photograph © Christie's

Lot 120 is the Rice Portrait of Jane Austen, an oil on canvas that measures 56 by 36 1/2 inches. It was once attributed to Zoffany but is now attributed to Ozias Humphry (1742-1810). It has an estimate of $400,000 to $800,000. It failed to sell.

The Rice Portrait of Jane Austen, estimated at $400,000-$800,000, is the only known portrait of her. Painted by British society painter Ozias Humphrey, (1742-1810), it features one of the greatest literary geniuses of all time - and a woman writer at a time when few, if any, women wrote novels for a living. Like the Bronte sisters and George Eliot, Jane Austen initially wrote under a "pen" name to disguise her identity, but once success was established, she submitted contentedly to her fame, and no doubt relished her ability to support herself, as none of her famous heroines were able to do. This makes the Rice Portrait one of the most important portraits in the history of English Literature. The painting has been in the family since it was created, and is being sold by Jane Austen's direct descendants.

The Rice Portrait came into prominence in 1884 as the frontispiece of the first published collection of Jane Austen's letters. Fanny Lefroy, granddaughter of Jane's brother James, and an authority on the Austen family, dated the picture to 1788 or 1789. This would make Jane 14 years old when Humphrey painted it, and her youth and freshness affirms this. The Rice Portrait has been engulfed in some controversy despite its flawless provenance, due mainly to Jane's attire. In 1948, Dr. R. W. Chapman, a leading Austen scholar, dismissed the portrait on the grounds that her costume dated to 1805, thereby making Jane 30 years old.

International scholars have been divided on the authenticity of the portrait (fuelled by costume historians), but recently these opinions have been refuted by many academics, including Professor Claudia Johnson of Princeton and Brian Southam, Chairman of the Jane Austen Society, who support the original attribution, as does Christie's. As an avowed Austen fan, this reviewer is thrilled to have the portrait on view in New York. Hopefully it will be purchased by an institution that will ensure its place in literary history, and make it available for viewing by Jane Austen's many fans.

Hedgehog by Garzoni

Lot 88, "A Hedgehog in a Landscape," by Giovanna Garzoni, bodycolor on vellum, 9 1/4 by 15 inches

Included in this sale is a gem of a painting, Lot 88, "A Hedgehog in a Landscape," a bodycolor on vellum that measures 9 1/4 by 15 inches. It is all the more exceptional because it was painted by a woman artist, Giovanna Garzoni, (1600-1670), born to a modest Venetian family, whose life spanned seventy years - a long life for those times. Few women artists' names appear on any works of this era, or even much later, but Garzoni managed to somehow earn a living through her art, maintain her independence, and ultimately make a real success of her artistic career. After a restless life, she finally settled in Rome in 1651, where she lived out the rest of her long life. The lot has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for $622,400. (For more information on Garzoni and other female artists see The City Review article on "Drawn and Colored by A Lady" exhibition at the Arader Galleries). The catalogue notes that "The rediscovery of Giovanna Garzoni can be traced back to the great exhibition of Italian still life paintings held in Naples, Rotterdam and Zurich in 1964. Since that date, the research of many scholars has uncovered the well-documented life of an outstanding woman artist whose works were prized at the courts of Florence, Naples, Rome, Turin, and beyond the Alps to France."

Lot 54, "Summer: the Harvest," by Lucas van Valckenborch (after 1535-1597), sold for $2,840,000, a world auction record for the artist.

Lot 117, "Gamblers at the Ridotto," by Johann Heinrich Tischbein (1722-1789), sold for $$2,504,000, a world auction record for the artist.

Lot 102, "Time Revealing Truth," by Sebastiano Ricci (1659-1734), sold for $2,448,000, a world auction record for the artist.

 

See The City Review article on the January 27, 2005 Important Old Masters Auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the January, 2004 Old Masters auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the January 24, 2003 Old Masters auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2001 Old Masters auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Old Masters auction at Christie's January 26, 2001

See The City Review article on the Important Old Master Paintings Auction at Sotheby's, Jan. 28, 2000

See The City Review article on the Recap of Old Master Paintings auction at Sotheby's May 28, 1999

See The City Review article on the Recap of Old Master Paintings auction at Christie's, May 25, 1999

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