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Old Master Paintings

Christie's

April 15, 2008

Sale 1986A


"Allegory of the City of Venice adoring the Madonna and Child" by Veronese

Lot 28, "Allegory of the City of Venice adoring the Madonna and Child," by Paolo Caliari, Il Veronese, oil on canvas, 40 1/2 by 50 3/4 inches.

By Carter B. Horsley

The most attractive work in this auction of Important Old Master Paintings at Christie's April 15, 2008, is Lot 28, "Allegory of the City of Venice adoring the Madonna and Child," by Paolo Caliari, Il Veronese (1528-1588). An oil on canvas, it measures 40 1/2 by 50 3/4 inches and was in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts from 1920 to 1057 and later with the Bob Jones University Collection and then the Republic of the Philippines. It has a conservative estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $2,505,000. The catalogue states that "this superb canvas...was painted as part of a decorative cycle for the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, the seat of the Exchequer in Venice, which was constructed near the Rialto bridge."

"As is typical of Veronese, this painting is most splendid for its chromatic and brilliant coloring, for which the artist was celebrated," the catalogue entry maintained.

"A wooded landscape with a herdsman" by Gainsborough

Lot 57, "A wooded landscape with a herdsman, cows and sheep near a pool," by Thomas Gainsborough, oil on canvas, 25 by 30 inches

Lot 57 is an excellent landscape by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788). An oil on canvas, it measures 25 by 30 inches and is entitled "A wooded landscape with a herdsman, cows and sheep near a pool." It has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $5,000,000. It sold for $5,753,000, a world auction record for the artist.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"This magnificent landscape which dates from circa 1786 demonstrates all the finest qualities of Gainsborough's late romantic style that was greeted with such acclaim by contemporary critics when ever his canvases were exhibited. From 1785, after many disagreements over the hanging of his works at the Royal Academy, Gainsborough started to exhibit his paitings in his own gallery at his residence, Schomberg House, Pall Mall. In 1786, the Rev. Henry Bate-Dudley, collector, patron and friend of Gainsborough, published a note in the Morning Herald described a group of seven small landscape paintings that he had seen there. Clearly impressed, he wrote in glowing terms, especially of the present work: 'The next picture, on point of dimensions, is a representation of a woody country, the face of which is covered with variety; distant thickets, jutting head-lands, trees with with foliage of the most spirited penciling, and here and there diversified with the yellow of Autumn. On a sunny bank, kept a proper distance, sheep are browsing; a cottage is seen near, and in the foreground a herdsman is driving cattle to a sedgy watering place. The light and shade of this picture diffuses a fine effect over the scene, and a sky, rich with fervid clouds, adds to the beauty of the landscape.' Many of Gainsborough's important landscape paintings were held in such esteem that they were often copied. It is interesting to note that of his his smaller exhibition pieces the present canvas appears to have been the most frequently copied, with no fewer than four near period replicas recorded."

Nine of the top ten lots exceeded their high pre-sale estimates and the sale total was $48,100,000 although only 132 of the 227 offered lots sold.

Nicholas Hall and Richard Knight, International Directors, and Ben Hall, Head of Department, Christie's New York, said after the sale that "The extraordinary quality of our top lots generated huge international enthusiasm," adding that "We noted keen institutional interest, along with extensive private participation, from both Europe and the United States; a significant number of our bidders who battled for the top lots were new collectors."

"Princess Sybille of Cleves" by Cranach

Lot 12, "Portrait of Princess Sybille of Cleves, Wife of Johann Friedrich the Magnaminous of Saxony," by Lucas Cranach the Elder, oil on panel, 21 by 15 inches

The cover illustration of the catalogue is Lot 12, "Portrait of Princess Sybille of Cleves, Wife of Johann Friedrich the Magnaminous of Saxony," by Lucas Cranach the Elder 1472-1553). An oil on panel, it mesures 21 by 15 inches and is property from the collection of Arthur A. Houghton Jr. and was at one point in the collection of Alfred W. Erickson, an advertising executive. The princess was 14 years old when Cranach painted this portrait. She grew up at court at Dusseldorf with her sister Anne, one of the future wives of Henry VIII. "Her marriage into the House of Saxony placed Sybille in the middle of the greatest ideological struggle of the sixteeenth century, a reformation not only of the church but also of the state." The lot has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $7,657,000.

"Hercules and Achelous" by Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem

Lot 25, "Hercules and Achelous," by Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem, oil on canvas, 75 5/8 by 96 inches

Lot 25 is a large oil on canvas by Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem (1562-1638) that is entitled "Hercules and Achelous" and measures 75 5/8 by 96 inches. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $8,105,000, setting a world auction record for the artist. The catalogue states that the painting "is nothing less than an icon of northern Baroque painting - all struggle and movement."

Pair of Venetian scenes by Marieschi

Lot 54, "A stonemason's yard on the Grand Canal, Venice,with a view of the Palazzo Ca'Tron, the Palazzo Belloni Battagia, the Fondaco del Megio and the Fondaco dei Turchi; and tTe Ducal Palace with the Campanile, the Libreria and Santa Maria della Salute beyond," a pair of oil paintings, each 21 3/8 by 28 5/8 inches, by Michele Marieschi

Lot 54, is an attractive pair of Venetian scenes by Michele Marieschi (1696-1743). They are entitled "A stonemason's yard on the Grand Canal, Venice,with a view of the Palazzo Ca'Tron, the Palazzo Belloni Battagia, the Fondaco del Megio and the Fondaco dei Turchi" and "The Ducal Palace with the Campanile, the Libreria and Santa Maria della Salute beyond." Each painting measures 21 3/8 by 28 5/8 inches. The lot has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $5,000,000. The lot sold for $3,401,000.

"Saint Lucy with a female patron" by Casentino

Lot 4, "Saint Lucy with a female patron," by Jacopo del Casentino, tempera and gold on panel, 51 3/8 by 26 5/8 inches

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 were offered by Christie's April 19, 2007 (see The City Review article), followed by a second auction in London July 5, 2007 and a third in Amsterdam November 14, 2007.

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.

An important Goudstikker work is Lot 4, "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 $500,000 to $700,000 in this auction and an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000 when it was offered at Christie's last year. It sold for $361,000.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"This remarkable full-length figure of Saint Lucy is an important and much discussed work by Jacopo del Casentino. Its attribution, though given to Jacopo since 1927 by Offner and the majority of scholars, ever since has been debated. Acquired in Italy by Jacques Goudstikker, perhaps through the intervention of the Dutch scholar Raimond van Marle, it was immediately exhibited as a work by the Sienese artist Ambrogio Lorenzetti at the Goudstikker gallery...and again in the 1934 exhibition of Italian paintings in Dutch collections. In his review of the exhibition in Bolletino d'Arte, van Marle singled out this painting, identified as an important work by Lorenzetti, for special praise. Subsequently, in 1969, van Os catalogued it as 'Sienese', and it was only at that point, following Fehm's review in The Burlington Magazine that Offner's original attribution was firmly reinstated and this splendid panel became unequivocally part of the corpus of Jacopo del Casentino. This confusion is instructive in that it illustrates the close ties in the 1320s and 1330s between Sienese and Florentine painters. Offner includes Jacopo among the group identified as 'Painters of the Miniaturist Tendency' on account of their predeliction for small scale, delicately painted devotional works - often portable tabernacles - that were quite different from the massive sculptural forms associated with Giotto. The assembly of Casentino's corpus was initially the work of Berenson and was later amplified by Offner. Jacopo's early works, such as the decoration of the Velluti Chapel in S. Croce, reveal a debt to Giotto, and suggest an apprenticeship with the important Giottesque artist, the St. Cecilia Master. This Saint Lucy, though imposing in scale and simplified in form, retains a delicacy of line, especially in the outline of the drapery and the folds of the saint's red cloak, which is suggestive of a Sienese influence. Indeed Offner proposes that Casentino based this composition on a Saint Lucy by Pietro Lorenzetti...painted for the Church of Santa Lucia dei Magnoli in Florence, dated circa 1320. Boskovitz, without making that connection, compares this Saint Lucy to Casentino's magnificent St. Miniato...altarpiece, painted for S. Miniato al Monte, of which Offner wrote: 'This painting should be recorded as Jacopo's masterpiece, and its acceptance as his work completely alters our obsolete views of him.' Documents record the decoration of the chapel of San Miniato between 1335 and 1342, which provides a terminus ante quem for the S. Miniato altarpiece, and by extension this panel, of 1342. This panel was almost certainly concieved as a complete object in and of itself, perhaps to be installed on a pillar. It was most likely commissioned by a patron who venerated Saint Lucy, represented here kneeling to the left of the standing saint. Before the painting was exhibited by Goudstikker, the background had been entirely overpainted, concealing the donor and altering the shape of the jar held by Saint Lucy. Over the added dark background an inscription, 'SAN LUCIA', identified the saint. In his notice in The Burlington Magazine, Fehm remarks that 'examination with strong mazda and ultra-violet light confirms that the panel is in a relatively good state, with only limited retouching and some glazing of the saint's mantle. There is no evidence of any modern alteration of the composition. This painting can now be regarded as a key work by Jacopo del Casentino and an important document of the confluence of Giottesque and Sienese artistic currents that occurred in Florence around 1330."

\"Madonna and Child" by workshop of Botticelli

Lot 3, "The Madonna and Child with the young Saint John the Baptist," by Workshop of Alessandro Filipepi, called Sandro Botticelli, tempera and gold on panel, 11 1/2 by 8 5/8 inches

Lot 3 is a lovely small tempera and gold on panel of "The Madonna and Child with the young Saint John the Baptist" that the catalogue entry says is by the workshop of Alessandro Filipepi, called Sandro Botticelli (1444/5-1510). The work measures 11 1/2 by 8 5/8 inches and has a very modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $217,000.

The entry notes that this lot "is striking in its affinity to Botticelli's 'Madonna and Child with the young Saint John the Baptist' formerly in thge collection of Winthrop Paul Rockefeller." The Madonna is very Botticelliesque as its the composition and the palette although the child's face is perhaps not as beatific as one might have expected.

"A young boy with a dog" by The Brunswick Monagrammist

Lot 9, "A young boy with a dog," by The Brunswick Monogrammist, oil on panel, 10 1/4 by 8 1/4 inches, second quarter of the 16th Century

Lot 9 is a charming small oil on panel that the catalogue says is by the Brunswick Monogrammist, Flemish, active second quarter of the 16th Century. Entitled "A young boy with a dog," it measures 10 1/4 by 8 1/4 inches. The catalogue entry notes that "The Brunswick Monogrammist is considered a precursor of Pieter Bruegel the Elder in his efforts toward an increased naturalism while still using the old tools of the previous generation of painters: aerial perspective, the division of the landscape into three district zones, and the use of figures throughout to indicate the recession of space." "His moniker comes from a Feeding of the Poor (Herzog-Anton-Ulrich Museum, Brunswick), signed with a monogram found only on this panel and composed of the interlocking letters J,V,A,M,S and L. The most likely candidate seems to be Jan van Amstel, believed to be the brother of Pieter Aertsen, though scholarship remains inconclusive." The lot has an estimate of $30,000 to $40,000. It sold for $109,000.

"Jupiter and Antiope" by Poussin

Lot 37, "Jupiter and Antiope," by Nicholas Poussin, oil on canvas, 20 1/4 by 26 1/4 inches

Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) is the subject of a major exhibition this Spring at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lot 37 is a pleasant modest-size work by him entitled "Jupiter and Antiope." An oil on canvas, it measures 20 1/4 by 26 1/4 inches. It has a modest estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $959,400. The catalogue notes that this is a "newly discovered painting by Poussin."

"The Childhood of Jupiter on Mount Ida" by Pietersz. Berchem

Lot 16, "The Childhood of Jupiter on Mount Ida," by Nicholas Pietersz. Berchem, oil on panel, 28 3/4 by 38 inches

Lot 16 is a fine work by Nicholas Pietersz. Berchem (1620-1683) that is entitled "The Childhood of Jupiter on Mount Ida." An oil on panel, it measures 28 3/4 by 38 inches. The lot has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It failed to sell. The catalogue notes that the painter did five versions of this work and this is "closest to the version in the Wallace Collection, London, which dates to circa 1654."

"The Story of Hero and Leander" by David Teniers The Younger"

Lot 19, "The Story of Hero and Leander," by David Teniers The Younger, oil on canvas, 24 by 32 7/8 inches

One of the most striking works in the auction is Lot 19, "The Story of Hero and Leander," by David Teniers The Younger (1610-1690). An oil on canvas, it measures 24 by 32 7/8 inches and was once in the collection of Earl of Sunderland, Althorp House. It has a modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $145,000. The painting is a copy Teniers made of a work by Domenico Fetti in the Kunsthistorisches Musueum in Vienna that was one of more than 240 copies he made of the Italian paintings in Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's collection in Brussels.

See The City Review article on the Old Master Paintings auction at Christie's April 19, 2007

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 Winter 2001 Old Masters Paintings auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Winter 2001 Old Masters Paintings auction at Sotheby'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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