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
"As is typical of Veronese,
is most splendid for its chromatic and brilliant coloring, for
which the artist was celebrated," the catalogue entry maintained.
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.
catalogue provides the
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."
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.
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."
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
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."
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.
Jacques Goudstikker was a major
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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."
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
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
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.
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
notes that this is a "newly discovered painting by Poussin."
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
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 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
is a copy Teniers made of a work by Domenico Fetti in the
Musueum in Vienna that was one of more than 240 copies he made
of the Italian paintings in Archduke Leopold Wilhelm's collection