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Important Old Master Paintings

Sotheby's

January 28, 2010

Sale 2282

"Two Studies of a Bearded Man" by Van Dyck

Lot 176, "Two Studies of a Bearded Man," by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, oil on canvas, 18 1/4 by 25 1/2 inches

By Carter B. Horsley

The January 28, 2010 auction of Important Old Master Paintings at Sotheby's has many wonderful, museum-quality paintings as well as some of considerable historical interest including three works that were once in the collection of Hermann Goring, the Nazi. The auction is highlighted by a great painting by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, a delightful small work by Fragonard, an impressive painting by Hendrik Goltzius, a great Cornelis Cornelisz. van Harlem, a lovely George Romney, a luscious small oil sketch by Rubens, a great small painting by the Master of the Female Half-Lengths, a lovely small Madonna and Child by the Master of the Dijon Madonna, a fine large Madonna and Child by Andrea del Sarto, a superb self-portrait by Ferdinand Bol and an oil version of Leonardo da Vinci's "Belle Ferronniere" in the Louvre that was the center of a major slander case against Sir Joseph Duveen, the legendary art dealer.

Lot 176 is a magnificent work by Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), "Two Studies of a Bearded Man." An oil on canvas, it measures 18 1/4 by 25 1/2 inches. Ut was formerly in the collections of Sir Francis Cook of Richmond, England, and Montgomery H. W. Ritchie.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"This evocative work was painted by the young Van Dyck when he was still in Rubens's studio and shows how fully he absorbed the lessons of his master, as well as how soon he had begun to assert his own style. Making study heads from a live model was first introduced in the Southern Netherlands by Frans Floris and later eagerly embraced by Rubens and then Van Dyck....Rubens so valued Van Dyck's studies that he kept them long after his prize pupil had left his workshop, and many appear in the inventory of the studio at his death. The combining of several studies of figures on the same sheet is less common than single heads, but Van Dyck, Rubens and Jordaens all did so on occasion. Surely there was an advantage to the artist, when he had the model before him, in putting down two or more studies on a single canvas, panel, or sheet of paper. There must also have been the sheer aesthetic pleasure of arranging multiple studies to create a single composition - a feat Van Dyck brought to its highest leel in his Charles I in Three Positions....in the Royal Collection. There were probably more multi-figured studies than we known, for evidence suggests that some were later cut apart....The first secure owner of Two Studies of a Bearded Man was Sir John Charles Robinson (1824-1913), one of the leading connoisseurs of his day. Robinson was one of the founding curators of the South Kensington Museum (now Victoria and Albert)....He was perhaps the most important scholar of Renaissance drawings of the nineteenth century, writing ground breaking books on Michelangelo and Raphael, and later in his career was appointed to the singular honor of Keeper of the Queen's Pictures."

Ritchie acquired the painting in 1952 and was, according to the catalogue, "a cowboy, a pilot, and a banker, as well as a collector of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist pictures....After graduating from Cambridge University he traveled to the United States to visit his family's ranch near Amarillo, Texas. During its peak, the JA Ranch had encompassed 1.3 million acres, but because of the draught and the Great Depression it had enormous debts....In 1992, he donated three fourths of his collection to the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee, of which he was a lifetime member and where many of his paintings, including The Two Studies of a Bearded Man were on loan. The Van Dyck was his only true Old Master, although he also had works by the great English nineteenth century landscape painters Turner and Constable."

It sold for $7,250,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

"The Magdalen Writing a Letter' by the Master of the Female Half-Lengths

Lot 142, "The Magdalen Writing a Letter," by The Master of the Female Half-Lengths," oil on panel, 10 by 7 1/2 inches

Lot 142 is one of several versions of "The Magdalen Writing a Letter" by The Master of the Female Half-Lengths" who was active in Antwerp in thefirst half othe16th Century. An oil on panel, it measures 10 by 7 1/2 inches. The catalogue observes that "the sparseness of the composition, with its velvety black background, heightens the serenity of this jewel-like scene." The artist's works are exquisite depictions of very elegant and very beautiful woman with a very consistent style that is slightly reminiscent of Parmigianino. The lot has a very conservative estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $326,500.

"A Boy at a Window Stretching Out His Arms" by Fragonard

Lot 209, "A Boy at a Window Stretching Out His Arms," by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, oil on copper, 6 1/4 by 4 5/8 inches

Without question, the most charming work in the auction is Lot 209, a small oil on copper by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806). Entitled "A Boy at a Window Stretching Out His Arms," it measures 6 1/4 by 4 5/8 inches. The catalogue states that this painting was "recently rediscovered." It has a modest estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.

Lot 215 is another Fragonard that is larger and only a little less charming than Lot 209. It is an oil on canvas that measures 13 1/8 by 17 1/4 inches and is entitled "Peasant girl with two children. It has a modest estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It was once in the collections of Edmond de Rothschild and Maurice de Rothschild, both of Paris.

Large detail of "La Belle Ferroniere" by follower of da Vinci probably before 1750

Large detail of Lot 181, "La Belle Ferronnière," by a follower of Leonardo da Vinci, probably before 1750, oil on canvas, 21 5/8 by 17 1/8 inches

Lot 181 is a version of "La Belle Ferronnière," a painting by Leonardo da Vinci that hangs in the Louvre. The catalogue states that this work is by a "follower of Leonardo da Vinci, probably before 1750." An oil on canvas, it measures 21 5/8 by 17 1/8 inches. The Louvre portrait is thought to depict Lucrezia Crivelli, a mistress of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan.

The auction catalogue provides the following commentary:

"It is today typically agreed that the Louvre version is either by Leonardo himself or one of his pupils, while the present version is thought to be a later copy....This Belle Ferronnière was bnrought to the United States in 1920 by newly weds Harry and Andreé Hahn....Harry, an American serviceman during World War I, had met and married a young French woman named Andree Lardoux. With the war over, Harrry returned home to Kansas City with his new bride and this picture, a wedding gift from Andreé's godmother, Louise de Montaut, Shortly after their arrival in the U.S., the Hahns decided to sell their picture....Later, they claimed to have nearly reached a deal with the Kansas City Museum for $250,000 when a reporter for The New York World....telephoned the famed art dealer Sir Joseph Duveen in London to ask his opinion....The art dealer had never seen the Hahn's picture, but nevertheless told the reporter that it must be a copy and that the real work was in the Louvre....In November, 1921, the Hahns served papers on Duveen at his gallery in New York City. He was being sued for slander....Duveen rallied a host of art experts to his side, including Bernard Berenson, Wilhelm Valentiner and Roger Fry, who all unanimously agreed that the Hahn's picture was a copy. He even orchestrated - at his own expense - a confrontation between the Louvre's and Hahn's pictures in Paris. There too, the unamiity of opinion between the various art experts was almost unheard of in the history of connoisseurship: the Louvre's picture was the original, while the Hahn's was a later copy. Duveen could sense his victory in the courtroom. But as the trial began, it became clear that the jury was not on his side....The Hahn's lawyer began to poke holes in this unified front by questioning the experts on their opinions of the Louvre picture. Many had written articles in the past claiming that it too was a copy....In 1929, with no scientific or archival evidence to back up the testimony of Duveen's experts, the jury could not reach a decision, and the case ended in a hung jury. Duveen ultimately settled out of court, paying the Hahn's $60,000 in damages....In 1947 Harry Hahn published a book, The Rape of La Belle, which blasted the art establishment for its treatment of the picture, and which claimed to conclusively prove that it was by Leonardo....However, it all came to nothing and the work disappeared from public view. In 1993, La Belle Ferronnière was examined by Leonardo expert Professor Martin Kemp. While Kemp did not think that the painting was a Leonardo, he did believe that it had age, daitng tit to the first half of the 17th Century. He also suggested an attribution to a northern European painter, perhaps Laurent de la Hyre. Recent technical examination of the painting has revealed compelling new evidence about the genesis of the picture, much of which supports Kemp's theory."

The face of the woman in the Hahn painting is very well done, well enough to probably convince some experts that the sfumato work in the face might well come from da Vinci's studio, but the woman's dress almost appears by a different and less skilled hand. The woman in the Hahn painted is seated behind a stone balustrade that is suggested by a strip of gray paint at the bottom, which is very clumsy and a far cry from da Vinci's marvelous landscapes and virtuoso technique.

The painting has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000 which does not rule out the remote possibility that it might be authentic, in which case it would be worth in the nine figures, but more likely reflects its infamous history and the mystic of connoisseurship. It sold for $1,538,500.

"Madonna and Child" by del Sarto

Lot 182, "Madonna and Child," by Andrea del Sarto, oil on panel, 30 by 25 3/4 inches

Lot 182 is a very fine "Madonna and Child" by Andrea del Sarto (1486-1531). An oil on panel, it measures 30 by 25 3/4 inches and has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It failed to sell.

It was once in the collection of Dr. Baron von Thyssen-Bornemisza of Schloss Rohoncz in Lugano and was sold at Sotheby's in London July 5, 1989 as "after Andrea del Sarto." In 1963, S.J. Freedberg listed the painting in his catalogue raisonne on the artist as a copy but the catalogue states "it has since been lightly cleaned, and the quality of the picture, the softness of the modeling, the numerous pentimenti and the technique with which the picture was painted (particularly the underdrawing) all confirm the painting's autograph status."

"Self-Portrait" by Bol

Lot 162, "Self-Portrait," by Ferdinand Bol, oil on canvas, 32 3/4 by 27 inches, 1648

Lot 162 is a very fine self-portrait by Ferdinand Bol (1616-1680) that has been consigned by the Los Angles County Museum of Art to benefit future acquisitions. It has a very modest estimate of $80,000 to $120,00 and it is hard to understand why any museum would sell off such an excellent work. It was given to the museum by Mr. and Mrs. Lauritz Melchior. According to the catalogue, Mr. Melchior was"the greatest Wagnerian tenor of the first half of the 20th Century and gave 519 performances at theMetropolitan Opera in New York. It sold for $578,500.

"Emma Hart, Later Lady Hamilton, as 'Absence'" by Romney

Lot 217, "Emma Hart, Later Lady Hamilton, as 'Absence,'" by George Romney, oil on canvas, 56 1/2 by 45 inches

Lot 217 is a full-length portrait of Lady Hamilton by George Romney (1734-1802). An oil on canvas, it measures 56 1/2 by 45 inches. It has a very modest estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $230,500.

The catalogue notes that "this charming and wistful portrait of Emma, Lady Hamilton" is one of three versions and possibly a fourth and that "the prime version is generally believed to be the canvas in the collectin of the Naitonal Maritime Museum, London."

The catalogue provides the following commentary about Lady Hamilton:

"Emma Hart, born Emy Lyon (bap. 1765-1815) came from humble roots to become one of the most celebrated beauties of her age. The companion of a number of prominent gentlemen, Emma became the mistress of Charles Francis Greville (1749-1809) in the early 1780s, and through him, met George Romney and other members of London's artistic elite. The artist painted Emma over and over, and he was only the first of many to be taken with her. In 1786, Greville sent Emma to Naples to live with his uncle, Sir William Hamilton. Emma thrived in Naples, becoming the toast of society. It was also here that she developed her 'Attitudes," in which she dressed in 'classical' robes and imitated the poses of figures from Greek pottery and antique sculpture. Goethe, in his Italian Journey, described Emma as a 'young English girl...with a beautiful face and perfect figure,' and her Attitudes 'like nothing you ever saw before in your life.' After marrying Sir William in 1791, Emma also had a long relationship with Lord Nelson (1758-1805), with whom she had three children, one of whom, a daughter narmed Horatia, survived. When Nelson was killed in the battle of Trafalgar, he left Emma and Horatia provided for in his will, but it was not enough to save her from debt, alcoholism and obscurity. Emma died in Calais in 1815, but she left behind an artistic legacy, evident in the numerous works by Romney, Reynolds, Lawrence, Hoppner and Kauffmann that she inspired."

"The Purification of the Israelites" by Cornelis Cornelisz.

Lot 179, "The Purification of the Israelites at Mount Sinai," by Cornelis Cornelisz. van Harlem, oil on panel, 26 by 22 1/2 inches, 1600

Lot 179 is a superb work bny Cornelis Cornelisz. van Harlem (1562-1638) entitled "The Purification of the Israeliites at Mount Sinai." An oil on penl, it is dated 1600 and measures 26 by 22 1/2 inches. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It failed to sell. The catalogue notes that the painting was acquired in 1604 by Melchior Wyntgis, who was the mintmaster of Zeeland and later adviser and master extraordindary of the Auditor General of the Duchy of Luxembourg at Brussels.

"Jupiter and Antiope" by Goltzius

Lot 167, "Jupiter and Antiope," by Hendrick Goltzius, oil on canvas, 48 by 70 inches

Lot 167 is a large and dramatic oil on canvas by Hendrik Goltzius (1558-1617) entitled "Jupiter and Antiope." It measures 48 by 70 inches and has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000.It sold for $6,802,500. It had been acquired by Herman Goring and was on loan to the Kunsthistorisch Institut in Utrecht from 1952 to 1978, the Groninger Museum from 1979 to 1985 and the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem from 1985 to 2009 when it was restituted to the heirs of Abraham Adelsberger.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Jupiter and Antiope is a remarkable picture, both for Goltzius's masterful handling of paint and brush and his frankly erotic treatment of the subject. It is a work that seduces the viewer on various levels, cerebral and physical. In 1600, when he abandoned printmaking and began painting, Goltzius was the most famous engraver of the Netherlands and perhaps all of Europe...he painted more than 50 pictures and was soon recognized as the premier painter in Haarlem, surpassing his rival Carnelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem...."

"Crucifixion" by follower of Giotto

Lot 145, "The Crucifixion with the Archangel Michael and Saints Elizabeth of Hungary, Agnes, Catherine of Alexandria and Clare; the 'Imago Pietatis' with the donor figures of a Franciscan monk and nun on the reverse," by a follower of Giotto, circo 1320, gold ground, tempera on panel, 13 1/2 by 8 3/4 inches

Another work that was once in the collection of Hermann Goring is Lot 145, "The Crucifixion with the Archangel Michael and Saints Elizabeth of Hungary, Agnes, Catherine of Alexandria and Clare; the 'Imago Pietatis' with the donor figures of a Franciscan monk and nun on the reverse," by a follower of Giotto, circo 1320. The work is gold ground and tempera on panel and measures 13 1/2 by 8 3/4 inches. The catalogue notes that the panel was once the central element of a triptych and that the choice of saints depicted suggests that it was painted for a member of the order of the Poor Clares. It has a modest estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $362,500.

"Portrait of a Young Woman with a Black Cap" by Rembrandt

Lot 194, "Portrait of a Young Woman with a Black Cap," by Rembrandt, 27 by 21 inches

Another work that was once in the collection of Hermann Goring is Lot 194 is a "Portrait of a Young Woman with a Black Cap" by Rembrandt (1606-1669). An oval oil on canvas on a wood support that the catalogue states was probably cut down to this shape possibly in the 18th century, it measures 27 by 21 inches. It has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000. It failed to sell.

This painting was also once in the collection of Sir Francis Cook of Richmond, England and after World War II it was restituted to Nathan Katz in 1947. "Its altered form and later over-paintings caused the Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) to reject it [as] the work of an imitator in 1972, but in 1995, following a cleaning and thorough physical analysis, they reinstated it as an authentic Rembrandt. Now that old additions and dirty varnish have been removed, we have the opportunity to enjoy this early work by Rembrandt," the catalogue maintains.

"The sitter is intended as an anonymous Oriental, an exotic figure, perhaps from an earlier time, not a young woman from Amsterdam. The style and technique are characteristic of Rembrandt's portraits from the early 1630s, a combination of refinement and bravura in which the subtle modeling of the features are combined in a seamless whole with the loose brushwork of the costume and ornaments," the entry notes.

"Madonna and Child enthroned" by di Cosimo

Lot 153, "The Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints Onophrius and Augustine," by Piero di Cosimo, oil and tempera on panel, 80 1/2 by 68 3/4 inches

Lot 153 is a large work by Piero di Cosimo (1462-1522) entitled "The Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints Onophrius and Augustine." An oil and tempera on panel, it measures 80 1/2 by 68 3/4 inches. It has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,202,500.

The catalogue offers the following commentary about the artist:

"Despite being one of the most inventive artists in Florence during the last quarter of the 15th and first quarter of the 16th century, Piero's reputation for eccentricity obscured recognition of his artistic merit for centuries. This was largely due to Vasari's biography of the artist in which Piero is described as socially deviant, a loner, living and working in solitude, irritated by 'the crying of children, the coughing of men, the sound of bells, and the chanting of friars.'" This painting closely resembles a similarly static and unexciting altarpiece attributed to Raphael in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"The Discovering Truth" by Tiepolo

Lot 195, "The Discovering Truth," by Giambattista Tiepolo," 18 by 25 3/8 inches

Lot 195 is a nice oval oil on canvas by Giambattista Tiepolo (1696-1770). Entitled "The Discovering Truth," it measures 18 by 25 3/8 inches. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $914,500. According to Beverly Louise Brown, "this is one of Tiepolo's most lyrical and engaging works on a small scale."

"Madonna and Child" by Master of the Dijon Madonna

Lot 141, "The Virgin and Child," by the Master of the Dijon Madonna, tempera and gold on linen, 9 7/8 by7 1/8 inches

Oneof the loveliest early Old Master paintings in the auction is Lot 141, "The Virgin and Child" by the Master of the Dijon Madonna. A tempera and gold on linen, it measures 9 7/8 by 7 1/8 inches. The catalogue notes that this lovely painting was attributed to the Colmar School when it was included in an exhibition in 1904 at the Louvre, noting that "the delicacy of the pale flesh-tones, the maternal sweetness of the blonde Virgin, the taste for abstract forms could justify the French attribution." The catalogue, however, further noted that in 1989 Diane Wolfthal christened the anonymous artist theMasterof the Dijon Madonna based on similarities between this painting and a virtually identical one in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon. Since then, it continued, several other similar works have been attributed to the same master whom Wolfthal considered to be a Flemish painter working in the following of the Master of the Magdalen Legend. More recently other versions of the painting have appeared, "all very close to the original Dijon painting," and they are known as Tuchlein paintings. Another version of this painting was sold in New York January 29, 1999 for $552,500, the catalogue said. This work has a modest estimate of $80,000 to $100,000. It sold for $290,500.

"Madonna and Child" by di Vannuccio

Lot 146, "The Madonna and Child" by Francesco di Vannuccio, gold ground and tempera on panel, 21 1/4 by 14 3/4 inches

Lot 146 is a "Madonna and Child" by Francesco di Vannuccio, who died before 1391. The small work is in an elaborate frame that measures 21 1/4 bny 14 3/4 inches. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $1,022,500. The work was on loan to The Cloisters of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from 1982 to 2009.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"As much a sumptuous and rich object as a painting, this exquisitely preserved and beautifully decorated reliquary exemplifies the elegant and refined taste of late trecento Siena. The center is painted with a finely rendered depiction of the Madonna of Humility....Surrounding this central image is a series of fifteen small compartments, each glassed over with a small piece of verre eglomisé decorated with alternating golden bursts of light and floral motifs, these of course to hold the holy relics for which the object was intended."

"The Piazetta, Venice" by Canaletto

"The Quay of the Dogana, Venice" by Canaletto

Lot 229, "The Piazzetta, Venice, with the Southwest Corner of the Doge's Palace," above, and "The Quay of the Dogana, Venice," below, both by Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto, and both oil on canvas laid on panel about 11 by 14 4/8 inches

Lot 229 is a handsome pair of small oil paintings by Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto (1697-1768). They are both oil on canvas laid on panel and each measures about 11 by 14 5/8 inches. One is called "The Piazzetta, Venice, with the Southwest Corner of the Doge's Palace," and the other is called "The Quay of the Dogana, Venice. The lot has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. The lot sold for $3,890,500.

"A Capriccioof Buildings with Figures by a Ruined Arch" by Guardi

Lot 227, "A Capriccio of Buildings with Figures by a Ruined Arch," by Francesco Guardi, oil on canvas, 22 by 16 3/4 inches

Lot 227 is a very fine painting by Francesco Guardi (1712-1793) that is entitled "A Capriccio of Buildings with Figures by a Ruined Arch." An oil on canvas it measures 22 by 16 3/4 inches. It has a modest estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for $362,500. "Although Guardi painted many topographical Venetian views, his genius is also wonderfully expressed in his capricci, which take familar Venetian buildings, or in this case ruins, and place them in imaginary settings. Guardi's poetic use of light and composition conjures up the essence of the city," the catalogue notes, adding that this work is "particularly close in composition" to a version in the National Gallery in London.

"Saint Dorothy" by Zurbaran

Lot 204, "Saint Dorothy, Full-Length, Holding a Basket of Apples and Roses," by Francisco de Zurbaran, oil on canvas, 71 by 40 inches

Lot 204 is a large painting of "Saint Dorothy, Full-Length, Holding a Basket of Apples and Roses," by Francisco de Zurbaran (1598-1664). An oil on canvas, it measures 71 by 40 inches,. It has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000. It sold for $4,226,500. The catalogue notes that the artist painted numerous full-length figures. Probably the loveliest is "Santa Casikia" at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid.

See The City Review article on the Important Old Masters auction at Sotheby's Winter 2009

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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