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,
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.