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Important Old Master Paintings

Sotheby's

10 AM, January 29, 2009

Sale 8516

"An Allegory of Painting" by Martinelli

Lot 26, "An Allegory of Painting With A Young Woman, Half Length," by Giovanni Martinelli, oil on canvas, 23 1/2 by 18 inches

By Carter B. Horsley

The Important Old Master Paintings auction at Sotheby's January 26, 2009 is highlighted by some marvelous paintings from the collection of Luigi Koelliker and superb works by il Bergognone, Gentile da Fabriano, Lorenzo Monaco, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, Cornelis Cornelisz. van Harlem, Lorenzo Lotto, Titian, Guercino, Hals, Goya, Boucher and Turner.

Several of the paintings are mesmerizing and world-class.

Lot 26, for example, is an exquisite painting by Giovanni Martinelli (1610-1669) that depicts a beautiful woman with fabulous shoulders and an alluring decolletage that would intimidate Vermeer and awe Rubens and give Botticelli's ladies strong competition in the Old Master Beauty Contest. It is entitled "An Allegory of Painting with a Young Woman, Half Length" and is an oil on canvas that measures 23 1/2 by 18 inches. The catalogue notes that two paintings of two half-length women are in the collection of the Uffizi. "During this time Martinelli's work took on a greater sense of drama, usually, as here, in the shape of striking light effects, and in this he was clearly inspired by Caravaggio and his followers whose work he would have studied during his sojourn in Rome from 1625 to 1632."

While the catalogue may be correct about the influence of Caravaggio on Martinelli, it is irrelevant as far as this painting is concerned as it is a wondrous work whose mysterious beauty stands on its own. The woman's expression and the blue of her dress that barely covers the front of her left breast and the enormous amount of extremely sensuous exposed flesh make this an objet d'amour everlasting. The lot has a very conservative estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It failed to sell.

The sale total for the auction was $61,652,625 even though less than 63 percent of the offered lots in the first session sold. The total for the morning session was $57.7 million, while the pre-sale low estimate was $74 million.

It is property of Luigi Koelliker. The catalogue describes him as "A Collector of Collections," a phrase often applied to J.P. Morgan:

"He began colleting stamps at the age of eight, in his teens moved onto watches and during his twenties and thirties put together a significant collection of Contemporary art. But then he started to look back in history to examine the influences that helped form the art of the twentieth century. He found himself fascinated by Renaissance and Baroque art, in all its many forms: paintings, sculpture, carpets, musical instruments and even astrolabes and armillary spheres. In his London home he created a modern version of a Renaissance studiolo - the connoisseur's private study which houses his most prevcious possessions. "It is fascinating to me to try to understand the line between arte majori and arte minori. It leads you to appreciate works differently, for example artists who painted majolica also worked on canvas or wood, while scietific isntruments, which, although not perhaps traditional art objects are among some of the most beautiful things in the world.' He soon began to collect sixteenth and seventeeth century paintings from Italy and the North. "Initially I approached Old Masters in a very conventional way. I started to buy vedute, views of Venice, and so on, but quickly moved on to portraits as I found them much more appealing. I attempt to understand and engage with what was depicted and the mind of both the sitter and the artist." As he became more familiar with the material Koelliker focused on the Caravaggisti, having been attracted to the emotion and the revolutionary nature of Caravaagio's images, aesthetic and ideas, but continued to collect in other fields as well....In addition to his collecting. Luigi Koellliker is well known for his support for the arts. He has been deeply involved in such historic restorations as the Micheangelo Randanini Pieta and the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan and revived Paragone, the art historical publicaiton founded by Roberto Longhi."

"Portrait of a girl" by Cavallino

Lot 34, "Portrait of a Girl," by Bernardo Cavallino, oil on canvas, 16 1/2 by 13 7/8 inches

Another extremely compelling Koelliker picture is Lot 34, "Portrait of a Girl," by Bernardo Cavallino (1618-1654). An oil on canvas, it measures 16 1/2 by 13 7/8 inches. The lot has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It failed to sell. The girl has an unsual face and her expression suggests sadness but the painting is extremely painterly and the blue ribbon in her hair suggests that this exotic young lady has a flair for style. Her face is as memorable as the old man in a crowd in the great movie, Koyanisqatsi. While he was old, unshaven and disheveled, sheis wearing lovely clothes and has a freshness that almost suggest innocence but certainly grace.

"Salome with the head of John the Baptist" by Titian

Lot 33, "Salome with the head of John the Baptist," by Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian, oil on canvas, in a carved parcel gilt frame, 35 1/2 by 32 3/4 inches

Lot 33, "Salome with the Head of John the Baptist," is a good oil on canvas by Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian (1485/90-1576). It measures 35 1/2 by 32 3/4 inches and was once in the collection of King Charles I of England at Hampton Court and eventually of Luigi Koelliker. It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It failed to sell. The catalogue notes that when the work last appeared at auction in 1994 it had been both extended on all four sides and substantially overpainted, adding that removal of the extensions and restoration has "revealed a painting of far greater quality than previously suspected."

"Portrait of an Admiral" by Titian

Lot 56, "Portrait of an Admiral, Probably Francesco Duodo (1518-1592), Half-Length, Wearing Armour," by Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian, oil on canvas, 34 7/8 by 30 1/4 inches

Although a far simpler composition, Lot 56 is a more appealing work by the same artist. It is a superb portrait of "an Admiral, Probably Francesco Duodo (1518-1592), Half-Length, Wearing Armour," by Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian (1485/90-1576). An oil on canvas, it measures 34 7/8 by 30 1/4 inches and has a very conservative estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $1,762,500. The identification of the man in the portrait is based on a portrait by a follower of Tintoretto in the Museo Storico Navale in Venice. The catalogue entry notes that the work has considerable pentimenti and that the artist painted the entire metal gorget at the sitter's neck before later covering it with the beard and the hilt of the sword was originally higher and slightly to the left. A drawing related to this picture is in the British Museum but it was apparently done after the panting.

"Saint John the Baptist in Prison Visited by Salome" by Guercino

Lot 57, "Saint John the Baptist in Prison Visited by Salome," by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Il Guercino, oil on canvas, 29 1/2 by 37 3/4 inches

As engaging as the Titian portrait is, it is not as compelling as Lot 57, "Saint John the Baptist in Prison Visited by Salome," by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Il Guercino (1591-1666). It is an oil on canvas that measures 29 1/2 by 37 3/4 inches and has a very modest estimate of $750,000 to $950,000. It failed to sell. The catalogue notes that the work has been "recently discovered" and is the "second version of this much celebrated composition." There are five known versions of the painting and in his 1968 monograph on the artist Sir Denis Mahon lists several later copies. A painting in a private collection in New York is widely considered to be the "prime version." The third version is owned by Sir Denis Mahon and is on loan to the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin.

"Saint Peter Penitent" by Guercino

Lot 29, "Saint Peter Penitent," by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino, oil on canvas, 40 3/4 by 30 inches

Another painting that is very haunting is Lot 29, "Saint Peter Penitent," by Guercino. An oil on canvas, it measures 40 3/4 by 30 inches and is also from the collection of Luigi Koelliker. It has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $422,500. Here, Saint Peter is an extremely commanding presence. He could easily be Moses, or Jupiter, or Michelangelo and is definitely a man of great experience and insight and intelligence.

"The Muse Erato" by Boucher

Lot 67, "The Muse Erato," by Francois Boucher, oil on canvas, 36 1/2 by 51 3/4 inches

Lot 67 is a wonderful and delightful work by Francois Boucher (1703-1770) entitled"The Muse Erato." An oil on canvas, it measures 36 1/2 by 51 3/4 inches and has a very conservative estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $1,314,500. The very impressive provenance lists Marquise de Pompadour (?), Sir Richard Wallace, Lady Sackville, Count Johh McCormick, JohnTimkin, Count Aldo Crespi.

"Madonna and Child" by Bergognone

Lot 7, "Madonna and Child," by Ambrogio di Stefano da Fossano, called il Bergognone, oil on panel, 20 1/4 by 15 1/8 inches

Lot 7 is a very, very beautiful "Madonna and Child" by Ambrogio di Stefano da Fassano, called il Bergognone (circa 1453-1523). An oil on panel, it measures 20 1/4 by 15 1/8 inches. It has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $482,500.

Bergogognone, according to the catalogue, "was among the most admired and sought-after aertists in the later years of the Sforza court [in Milan], having frescoed the tranepts and supplied the mainy altarpieces of the family's most significant religious institution, the Certosa di Pavia. But in addition to the large-scale fresoes and cult images he produced there, he was also capable of painting on a smaller scale, particularly Madonnas and half-length saints, which appear especially poignant and tender to the modern eye."

"Young Boy with a Pipe" by studio of Georges de La Tour

Lot 28, "A Young Boy with a Pipe, Blowing on a Firebrand," by Studio of Georges de La Tour, 27 5/8 by 23 3/4 inches

Lot 28 consists of a pair of oil paintings on canvas that the catalogue states is by the studio of Georges de La Tour (1593-1653). One depicts "A Young Boy with a Pipe, Blowing on a Firebrand," and the other, "A Young Girl Blowing on a Brazier." Both measure approximately 27 5/8 by 23 3/4 inches. The paintings come from the London residence of Luigi Koelliker and have a modest estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $542,500. Some experts have proposed that the paintings were by Etienne de La Tour (1621-1692), the artist's son and were so attributed at an exhibition in 2007. Works by George de La Tour are very, very rare but most are more complex compositions.

Purification of the Israelites" by Cornelis

Lot 17, "The Purification of the Israelites at Mount Sinai," by Cornelis Cornelisz. van Harlem, oil on panel, 26 by 22 1/2 inches, 1600

Lot 17 is a great painting by Cornelis Cornelisz. van Harlem (1562-1638) that is entitled "The Purification of the Israelites at Mount Sinai." An oil on panel, it measures 26 by 22 1/2 inches and is dated 1600. It is quite an unusual composition and the figures are lovely. It has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It failed to sell.

"St. George'sKermis with the Dance Around the Maypole" by Brueghel

Lot 43, "St. George's Kermis with the Dance Around the Maypole," by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, oil on panel, 21 1/2 by 29 7/8 inches

Lot 43, "St. George's Kermis with the Dance Around the Maypole," by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564-1637/8) is a classically crowded, joyful and very merry village festival scene that is dated 1627. An oil on panel, it measures 21 1/2 by 29 7/8 inches and has a modest estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $2,434,500.

"St. James the Evangelist" and "Saint James the Greater" by Gentile da Fabriano

Lots 2 and 3, "Saint John the Evangelist," left, and "Saint James the Greater," both by Gentile di Niccolo Massio, called Gentile da Fabriano, gold ground, tempera on panel, unframed, 8 1/2 by 2 3/8 and 8 1/2 by 2 1/4 inches, respectively

The auction is offered separately four small, related and very nice panels of saints by Gentile di Niccolo Massio, called Gentile da Fabriano (circa 1380-1427). Lot 2 is "Saint John the Evangelist" and Lot 3 is "Saint James the Greater." All are gold ground and tempera on panel unframed and measure approximately 8 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches and each has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. Lot 2 sold for $458,500. Lot 3 sold for $482,500.

The catalogue notes that these four "elegantly rendered" panels are four "of a set of six newly discovered panels....all of which comprise a major and exciting new addition to the artist's oeuvre," adding that "they most probably formed part of a group of twelve apostles of full-length format, perhaps used to decorate the pilasters of an altarpiece." The group of six was until recently in a private Swedish collection. Gentile da Fabriano worked in Venice and painted frescoes together with Pisanello in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio in the Ducal Palace and the catalogue notes that these panels would appear to date circa 1405 "just before his great, early masterpiece, the Valle Romita polyptych."

"Magus Hermogenes" by Monaco

Lot 8, "The Magus Hermogenes Casting His Magic Books Into The Water," by Lorenzo Monaco, gold ground, tempera on panel, 11 3/4 by 8 1/2 inches

"Although rightly seen today as one of he leading artists of his time and the greatest proponent of the last flowering of the elegant Gothic style of painting in Florence, Lorenzo Monaco (1389-1423 or 1425) remains nevertheless a somewhat enigmatic figure," according to the catalogue entry for Lot 8, his "The Magus Hermogenes Casting His Magic Books Into The Water." The work is gold ground, tempera on panel and measures 11 3/4 by 8 1/2 inches. It has a somewhat ambitious estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $1,426,500.

"His reputation suffered in the years immediately following his death with the startling innovations of the subsequent generation of Florentine artists, and thus early sources treated him scantily. It was only in the latter half of the 19th and the early part of the 20th century that scholarship restored Lorenzo to his rightful place, and that a clear picture of his primacy in Florentine painting in the final two decades of the 14th century was understood," the catalogue maintained, adding that the picture is "part of a predella of an altarpiece painted for the Chapel of San Jacopo e San Giovanni Decollato in Santa Maria degli Angeli, Florence." The catalogue states that "some scholars...regard this series of paintings as the artist's first known work."

The catalogue notes that the polyptych was apparently broken up in the 19th century and the relationship between the panels "subsequently lost or misunderstood," adding that furthermore it was painted by two different artists, Monaco and Agnolo Gaddi.

This panel was once in the collection of Frederic Fairchild Sherman of Westport, Connecticut.

"Ecce Homo" by Lotto

Lot 39, "Ecce Homo," by Lorenzo Lotto, oil on panel, 19 by 15 1/2 inches

Lot 39, "Ecce Homo," is a very fine portrait of Christ by Lorenzo Lotto (1480-1556). An oil on panel, it measures 19 by 15 1/2 inches and has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It failed to sell. It was once in the collection of the Dukes of Mantua.

The auction has three excellent paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553).

"Portrait of a bearded young man" by Cranach

Lot 18, "Portrait of a Bearded Young Man," by Lucas Cranach the Elder, oil on linden panel, 16 1/2 by 11 1/8 inches, 1518

Lot 18 is a "Portrait of a Bearded Young Man" that is an oil on linden panel that measures 16 1/2 by 11 1/8 inches. It was given to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1991 by Mr. and Mrs. R. Stanton Avery of Pasadena and the museum has consigned "to benefit future acquisitions." It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It failed to sell. The catalogue entry for this lot notes that "Although Cranach's portraits of women betray a certain generic similarity, his depictions of men are much more individualized. Here he has lavished his full attention on this striking young sitter, with his penetrrating blue eyes and prominent cheek bones, and carefully delineates the delicate hairs in his fair, curly beard."

"Old Man Beguiled by Courtesans" by Cranach

Lot 19, "Old Man Beguiled by Courtesans," by Lucas Cranach, oil on panel, 32 1/4 by 47 3/8 inches

A much larger and jollier work by Cranach is Lot 19, "Old Man Beguiled by Courtesans," an oil on panel that measures 32 1/4 by 47 3/8 inches. It has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $1,762,500. The catalogue notes that the work "is signed in the upper right with the device of a serpent with folded wings, a revision of Cranach's early mark, which depicted a serpent with the spread wings of a bat, adding that the device "was not a signature as such, but a mark of quality, and was usedas such by both Cranach and his son."

The third Cranach work is Lot 12, "Lucretia," an oil on panel that measures 34 1/4 by 22 3/4 inches. It has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $962,500.

"The Doctor's Visit" by Steen

Lot 25, "The Doctor's Visit," by Jan Havicksz. Steen, oil on panel, 18 by 15 inches

Lot 25 is an amusing oil on panel entitled "The Doctor's Visit," by Jan Havicksz. Steen (1626-1679). It measures 18 by 15 inches and was one of the artist's favorite subjects. "The overtly lascivious nature of the protagonists in the present scene, and indeed the extent to which they are ridiculed by Steen, set this paiting apart from the artist's earlier versions," the catalogue entry noted, including one in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It has an estimate of $900,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $1,082,500.

"Bagpipe Player in Profile" by Ter Brugghen

Lot 40, "Bagpipe Player in Profile," by Hendrick Ter Brugghen, oil on canvas, 39 3/4 by 32 5/8 inches, 1624

Lot 40, "Bagpipe Player in Profile," is an oil on canvas by Hendrick Ter Brugghen (1588-1629) that measures 39 3/4 by 32 5/8 inches. It was executed in 1624 and has an ambitious estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold to Johnny Van Haeften, a London dealer, although it was not clear whether he was bidding for a client or himself, for $10,162,500! It is property of the heirs of Herbert von Klemperer of Berlin and was restituted to them last July by the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne. The painting is one of two closely related renditions. The other is in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

"Portrait of a Man Holding Gloves" by Hals

Lot 45, "Portrait of a Man Holding a Pair of Gloves," by Frans Hals, oil on canvas, 36 1/2 by 26 1/2 inches, 1637

The auction has a pair of related portraits, one of a man holding a pair of gloves, and the other of a woman holding a handkerchief, by Frans Hals (1581/5-1666). They are both in excellent condition although they are quite sedate by the artist's bravura brushwork standards. Both measure 36 1/2 by 26 1/2 inches and are dated 1637. The portrait of the man has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000. The portrait of the woman has an estimate of $7,000,000 to $9,000,000. Both paintings failed to sell. In an article in the January 30, 2009 edition of The New York Times, Carol Vogel reported that "at the last minute the seller, Eric Albada, a Belgian collector, decided to put them on the block or not at all, and the estimate for the two together was $15 million to $20 million. One person was bidding..., but he wouldn't go higher than $11.5 million, and the works were not sold."

"Portrait of Prince von Kaunitz-Rietberg" by Goya

Lot 81, "Portrait of Prince Alois Wenzel von Kaunitz-Rietberg," by Francisco Josť de Goya y Lucientes, oil on canvas, 23 1/4 by 18 7/8 inches

Lot 81 is a fine portrait of "Prince Alois Wenzel von Kaunitz-Rietberg" by Francisco Josť de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828). An oil on canvas, it measures 23 1/4 by 18 7/8 inches. The prince had been Austrian ambassador to Spain. It has a modest estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $2,210,500.

"Landscape with a Fence" by van Ruysdael

Lot 24, "Landscape with a Fence," by Salomon van Ruysdael, oil on panel, 14 7/8 by 21 3/8 inches

Lot 24 is a superb landscape by Salomon van Ruysdael (1600/3-1670) that is an oil on panel that measures 14 7/8 by 21 3/8 inches. It was acquired by the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna in 1939 and restituted to the heir of the pre-World War II owner last year. It has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It failed to sell.

"River landscape" by Ryckaert

Lot 11, "A River Landscape with the Flight into Egypt," by Maerten Ryckaert, oil on panel, 29 1/8 by 38 1/2 inches

Lot 11 is a very fine landscape by Maerten Ryckaert that is an oil on panel that measures 29 1/8 by 38 1/2 inches. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $698,500. The catalogue notes that the composition is derived from a work by Jan Bruegel the Elder that is lost but is known through several versions by his son Jan II.

"The Temple of Jupiter" by Turner

Lot 92, "The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius Restored," by Joseph Mallord William Turner, oil on canvas, 46 by 70 inches

Lot 92 is a large work by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). Although it is not an example of his extraordinary impressionistic style, it is a large and impressive and lively composition. An oil on canvas, it measures 46 by 70 inches. It is property of the private collection of Richard Feigen, the art dealer who bought the painting in London at Christie's in 1982 for $1.1 million. It has an estimate of $12,000,000 to $16,000,000. It sold for $12,962,500.

See The City Review article on the Important Old Masters auction at Christie's January 28, 2009

See The City Review article on the Old Master Paintings auction at Christie's April 15, 2008

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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