Carter B. Horsley
This auction of Old Master
Paintings at Sotheby's
is one of the best in several years with many superb works although
The finest work is Lot 9,
Procession," a large and panoramic outdoor scene by Pieter
Brueghel the Younger (1564-1637/8). An oil on panel that measures
29 1/8 by 48 5/8 inches, it is dated 1630. Unlike most genre works
by the Brueghels, this has a very dramatic and unusual composition
and is highly stylized in its treatment of the right foreground
and the windmill. It has a very conservative estimate of $1,200,000
to $1,600,000. It sold for $2,704,000. The catalogue notes that
there are 7 versions of this work and that this is dated the same
year as an example in the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten
in Antwerp. "The composition itself is based on a lost prototype
by the artist's father, Pieter Brueghel the Elder. A version of
the scene, which has sometimes been published as by the Elder
Brugehel himself, is in the Musee Communale de la Ville de Bruxelles.
It is now convincingly given to Jan Brughel the Elder," the
Another work by the same artist
is Lot 19,
"L'Auberge St. Michel." An oil on panel, it measures
20 1/4 by 33 1/4 inches. It is a more conventional and less dramatic
work than Lot 9. It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It
sold for $1,192,000. Only about two-thirds of the offered lots
were sold in this auction.
Lot 34 is one of the finest
works in the auction.
Entitled "The Triumph of Fame, the Triumph of Time and the
Triumph of Eternity," it is a cassone panel of tempera on
panel with gold ground by Domenico di Michelino (1417-1491). According
to the catalogue, "the subject of this painting is inspired
by one of the most well-known literary texts of the Trecento:
Petrarch's I Trionfi. Francesco Petrarca
born in Arezzo and though he lived in Provence from 1311, he settled
in Italy after 1353. In 1327 he set eyes on a woman he named Laura,
with whom he fell in love and whom he celebrated in his poetry;
she served as inspiration for numerous works of art in the ensuing
centuries including Giorgione's only signed and dated work, the
famous portrait in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Petrarch's
Trionfi, whe he worked on from 1350 until his
twenty-five years later, were initially inspired by Laura and
desribed processions commemorating love, chastity, death, fame,
time and eternity." The lot has a conservative estimte of
$800,000 to $1,000,000. It sold for $1,696,000.
Claude Gellée, called Claude
and Nicholas Poussin have long been regarded as among the greatest
French painters of their days, but many of their works appear
to this observer rather academic and static. Lot 51, "Pastoral
Landscape with Huntsmen," is, however, a superb and lovely
work by Claude Lorrain. An oil on canvas, it measures 39 1/2 by
52 3/8 inches.
The catalogue provides the
"Claude is perhaps the most
admired and imitated landscape painter of the western tradition;
his compositions have inspired artists as diverse as Turner and
Vernet (and even landscape architects like Capability Brown who
attempted to create actual, living vistas to rival Claude's two
dimensional compositions). He was patronized nad later collected
by the international elite - popes, cardinals, princes and kings
- on a scale that rivaled in his day only by Rubens and van
for most of his life in Rome, Claude eschewed the earlier, somewhat
drier, landscape style of his master Agostino Tassi and other
contemporaries such as the Fleming Paulus Bril and, under the
influence of the Caracci school - particularly Domenichino - reinvented
the idealized, Arcadian landscape. Using drawings taken from ntaure,
in which he anticipated the painters of both the Barbizon and
Impressionist schools, Claude was able to compose his landscapes
with great naturalism, making revolutionary use of light and dark,
form and space, to create idealized pictures which presented a
nature that was more perfect than nature itself."
The lot, which was once in the
the Smith College Museum of Art, has a conservative estimate of
$2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It failed to sell, surprisingly.
Lot 65 is a wonderful Venetian
scene of the
Piazzo San Marco by Bernardo Bellotto (1721-1780). An oil on canvas,
it measures 24 by 36 1/2 inches. Bellotto studied "view"
paintings under his famous uncle, Canaletto. It has an estimate
of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000. It sold for $4,720,000.
Another very good work by
Pieter Brueghel the
Younger is Lot 7, "The Bird Trap." An oil on panel,
it measures 17 7/8 by 26 1/2 inches. It has a modest estimate
of $600,000 to $800,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 38 is a very fine "Sacra
that depicts the Madonna and Child with St. John the Bapist and
a female saint that the catalogue states is "probably Saint
Catherine." An oil on panel that measures 25 by 35 1/2 inches,
it is by Jacopo Negretti called Palma il Vecchio (1480-1528).
"After the death of Giorgione in 1510 and of Giovanni Bellini
in 1516, Palma's studio became the leading workshop in the city
[Venice] and demand for paintings in his style remained high even
after his death....Palma's only competition in the 1510s was the
younger Titian..." The lot has a modest estimate of $400,000
to $600,000. It sold for $441,600.
Lot 27 consists of a pair of
of Saints Philip and Paul, both egg tempera on panel, by Giovanni
Francesco da Rimini (1420-1469). They are very strong and the
catalogue notes that they "were certainly at one time part
of a larger altarpiece with the panels, now cropped, originally
shaped as Gothic arches." "His works show a knowledge
of Venetian Gothic painting, as well as the strong stylistic influence
of Florentine artists such as Fra Filippo Lippi and Benozzo Gozzoli,"
it added. The lot, which was consigned from the collections of
the Zanesville Art Center, has a conservative estimate of $80,000
to $120,000. It sold for $632,000.
Lot 39 is a very beautiful
Madonna and Child
by Antonio di Benedetto Aquilio, called Antoniazzo (before
A gold ground and tempera on penal, itmeasures 25 by 40 1/2 inches.
The work has the strength and delicacy of a Crivelli. It has a
modest estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It failed to sell.
One of the auction's most
is Lot 37, "The Madonna and Sleeping Christ Child with the
Infant Saint John the Baptist," by Piero di Cosimo (1461/61-1521).
Works by di Cosimo are very rare. This lovely oil on panel is
a tondo that is 34 1/2 inches in diameter. Some of his most famous
works have unusual subjects and he was the teacher of Fra Bartolomeo,
Albertinelli, Pontormo and probably Andrea del Sarto. The rock
structure in this composition is related to one in his tondo in
the Museo Horne in Florence. The lot has a very modest estimate
of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $396,800.
One of the most charming
pictures in the auction
is Lot 25, "Nymphs Bathing," by Bartholomeus Breenbergh
(1598-1657). An oil on panel that measures 14 1/4 by 18 1/2 inches,
it has a modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. The naked child
in the center foreground is blowing bubbles. It sold for
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
deaccessioning a major painting by Benjamin West (1738-1820),
"The Battle of La Hogue." An oil on canvas, it measures
64 1/2 by 96 inches and was executed in 1778 and "retouched
"On the 11th of May, 1806, the
Joseph Farington (1747-1821) visited the studio of Benjamin West,
until recently the president of the Royal Academy before his
was forced by a group of Academicians, including his fellow American
Copley. There Farington viewed among other works a set of three
large history paintings, of the type that made West's reputation.
West had planned the exhibition as a pointed reminder to the members
of the Academy of the powers of their former head: it proved a
huge success, with some 6,500 entrance cards issued ....The canvases
formed a triad of great British military victories, the just completed
Death of Lord Nelson (Now Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool), and
versions of his two most famous pictures, The Death of Wolfe (now
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto) and this Battle of La Hogue . ...The
first version of this painting was painted for Richard, Lord Grosvenor,
who owned a group of five large-scale works by west (including
the Wolfe) depicting scenes of 'modern' English history, and is
now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. ...While
the Washington canvas is neither signed or dated, the present
version is signed and is dated twice....It seems reasonable, therefore,
to assume that at least the preliminary work was started on the
present version as early as 1778, and only finally finsihed by
West himself in 1806."
The lot has a very modest
estimate of $250,000
to $350,000. It sold for $632,000.
Lot 74 is a very rare work that
states is by Donatello (1386-1466), one of the greatest sculptors
of the Renaissance. It is a terracotta relief, 32 1/2 inches high
and was executed circa 1450. It is known as the Borromeo Madonna.
It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for
$4,440,000 and was acquired by the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort
Lot 23 is a fine river
landscape by Philips
Koninck (1619-1688). An oil on canvas, it measures 33 by 47 1/2
inches. "As with the landscapes of Rembrandt and [Hercules]
Seghers, Koninck's work is at a remove from the mainstream of
Dutch landscape painting, and harks back to an earlier, Flemish
tradition. In their seemingly limitless extension of space rendered
with subtle and repeated gradations of tone, his panoramas may
be seen as interpretations of the imaginary landscapes of Joos
de Momper and his contemporaries," the catalogue entry for
his lot noted. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000.
It sold for $1,696,000.
Lot 8 is a small but very
lovely and fine river
landscape by Salomon van Ruysdael (1600/3-1670). An oil on panel,
it measures 13 1/4 by 20 1/8 inches and is dated 1636. The lot,
which is one of the more handsome works in his oeuvre, has a modest
estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $228,000.
Lot 70 is a very handsome work
that some experts
have suggested was painted, according to the catalogue, "in
collaboration by Jacopo and his son, Francesco" Bassano.
Another expert, the catalogue continued, however, believes it
to be a studio replica on a similar work in the Royal Collection
at Hampton Court. Other versions are in the Palazzo Ducale in
Venice and one formerly in the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in
The lot has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. The lot failed
Lot 10 is a small but excellent
work by Rembrandt
Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669). Entitled "Study of an Elderly
Woman in a White Cap," it is an oil on panel that measures
21 by 14 3/4 inches.
"This is an important
by Rembrandt, painted in Amsterdam around 1640, which came to
light in 2003, and upon completion of detailed examination and
research by the Rembrandt Research Project and painstaking cleaning
by Martin Bijl, was publicly unveiled in the building where it
was probably painted - the Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam - in October
2005. In the 19th and early 20th Centuries it had been known and
admired as an authentic work by the artist, and repeatedly published
as such by distinguished scholars such as Cornelius Hofstede de
Groot and Walter Valentiner, but following Valentiner's last
of it in 1931, it was completed ignored by all Rembrandt scholars
until 2005, with the exception of Werner Sumowski, who knew it
only from an old photograph, and who made passing reference to
it in a footnote.....While it is unquestionably entirely Rembrandtesque
in character, this painting does not at all resemble Rembrandt's
portraits of women. Seen in the context of Rembrandt's oil studies,
however, it is clear that it finds a natural place in Rembrandt's
oeuvre: stylistic and technical characteristics as well as its
masterly quality and brilliancy of execution are decisive in confirming
The lot has a conservative
estimate of $3,000,000
to $4,000,000. It sold for $4,272,000.
An equally impressive and fine
is Lot 15, "A Bearded Old Man," by Gerrit Dou (1613-1675).
An oil on panel, it measures 7 by 5 inches. It has an modest estimate
of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $1,248,000.
Lot 72 is a still life entitled
in a terracotta vase on a marble ledge" by Jan van Huysum
(1682-1749). According to the catalogue, "this panel, a masterpiece
of Dutch still life, epitomizes the achievements of Jan van Huysum,
the greatest Dutch flower painter of the 18th Century....Van Huysum
introduced a completely new and much lighter palette to flower
painting, aided by newly discovered pigments, and this transformation
of colour extends throughout his pictures, so that often luminous
backgrounds are completely unlike anything seen before. With a
radically altered palette comes a completely different approach
to lighting still life." The lot has an estimate of $6,000,000
to $8,000,000. It sold for $7,296,000 to Noortman Master
Another work by a not
well-known master is
Lot 21, "Cattle in a Field, with Travelers in a Wagon on
a Track Beyond and a Church Tower in the Distance, a Rain Storm
Approaching," by Paulus Pieterz. Potter (1625-1654). An oil
on panel, it measures 14 3/4 by 22 inches. It has an estimate
of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $4,048,000.
Potter was one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age,"
the catalogue noted, adding that "his singular contribution
to Dutch 17th Century art was that he painted portraits of animals."
Both the van Huysum and the
Potters might well
be overlooked by many museum-goers as they are nice but not
Lot 22, however, "The Seduction," by Caspar Netscher
(1639-1684), would most likely grab their attention for its exquisite
handling of the textures of the clothing worn by the women depicted.
It has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for
Lot 2, "An Elaborate
with Jephthah and His Daughter," by Dirck van Delen (1605-1671)
is a handsome oil on panel that measures 50 1/2 by 77 1/8 inches
and is dated 1633. It has an estimtae of $150,000 to $200,000.
It sold for $441,600.
Lot 6, "Saint Catherine of
Flanked by Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and Saint Dorothy, within
a Hortus Conclusus," is a stunning and very interesing small
panel by the Master of Sainte Gudule, who was active in Brussels
circa 1480. The oil on panel measures 17 1/2 by 18 1/4 inches.
It has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,000,000. It failed to
is a very fine "Lamentation
of Christ" by the Master of Hoogstraten (active Antwerp,
circa 1505). An oil on panel, it measures 14 3/8
by 10 1/2 inches. It has an modest estimate of $30,000 to $40,000.
It sold for $45,000. About three-quarters of the offered
in this auction were sold.
Lot 267 is a fine rendition of
of Apelles" that the catalogue states is a follower of Francisco
Salviati, called Cecchino Salviati. An oil on panel, it measures
22 7/8 by 35 3/8 inches. It has a very modest estimate of $20,000
to $30,000. It sold for $48,000.
Lot 295, "Portrait of a Woman,
Shoulders," is described in the catalogue as by a "follower
of Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphael" and is dated first half
of the 17th Century. An oil on panel, it measures 15 3/4 by 12
3/4 inches. The painting was possibly in the collection of the
4th Earl of Radnor in the 19th Century. Dr. Gustave Waagen rejected
an attribution then to Raphael "in favour of Sebastiano del
Piombo." The lot has an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It
sold for $665,600!
initiated a new type of auction in which dealers offered works
from their inventory that were in "ready to hang" condition,
that is, were cleaned, and restored if necessary, and framed.
addition, Sotheby's and
the dealers had the offered works "vetted" by a group
of experts that included Simon Levie, a former director general
of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Frits Duparc, the director of
The Maurithuis in The Hague, Martin Bijl, the former chief restorer
to the Risjksmuseum in Amsterdam, Scott Schaefer, the curator
of paintings at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Peter
C. Sutton, the executive director of the Bruce Museum in Connecticut
and Edgar Peters Bowron, the Audrey Jones Black curator of European
Art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
Lot 104 is a stunning pair of
still lifes with
birds and nets and whistles by Jacobus Biltius (1633-1681). They
were consigned by the Propertyof Rob Smeets Old Master Paintings.
The pair has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for
$216,000 to Noortman Master Paintings.
This auction was not
very successful with
only about half of the offered works selling, but George Wachter,
vice chairman of Sotheby's Old Masters Department, maintained
that it was a good "learning experience" that would
The loveliest work in this
auction is Lot 108,
"The Lamentation," by Giovani Battista Naldini (1537-1591).
An oil on panel, measures only 3 by 9 inches and was consigned
by French & Company. It has a modest estimate of $80,000 to
$120,000. It sold for $84,000. According to the
Naldini was "Jacopo Pontormo's leading student and artistic
heir." "The picture," it continued, "was purchased
atthe turn of the 20th Century by Sir Frederick Cook, son of Sir
Francis Cook, 1st Baronet and owner of Doughty House....The Cook
collection was formed inthe 1840s."
Lot 135 is a very good "View of
by Herman Saftleven (1609-1685). An oil on panel, it measures
11 by 15 inches and was consigned by Noortman Master Paintings.
It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $96,000.
Lot 239 is a very fine and
by Jan Josephz. van Goyen (1596-1656). An oil on oak panel, it
measures 13 1/4 by 22 inches. It has a modest estimate of $80,000
to $120,000. It sold for $144,000.
Moretti has consigned an
by the Master of the Lazzaroni Madonna who was active in Florence
in the third quarter of the 14th Century. The tempera and gold
ground work measures 11 3/8 by 17 3/4 inches. It has an estimate
of $150,000 to $200,000. The artist was a follower of Nardo di
Cione and late Andrea di Bonaiuto.
Lot 115 is a stunning still
life of fruit by
the Lombard School, 17th Century. The oil on canvas measures 24
3/4 by 34 inches. It was consigned by the Property of Compagnie
des Beaux Arts Ltd. It has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.
It failed to sell. The catalogue notes that the
was almost certainly familiar with Caravaggio, whose only certain
still life...is now in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan."
One of the most exquisite works
in this auction
is "Don Juan at the Seraglio," a small Orientalist painting
by Alexandre-Marie Colin (1798-1873). Anoil on canvas, it measures
16 1/8 by 13 inches and was consigned by Blondeau et Associés.
It has a modest estimate of $30,000 to $40,000. It failed to
sell. According to the catalogue, the painting is "a
faithful illustration of the fifth canto of Lord Byron's comic
epic masterpiece Don Juan.