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Important Old Master Paintings


10:15 AM, January 28, 2000


Portrait of a Man as Mars by Peter Paul Rubens

Lot 51, "Portrait of a Man as the God Mars," by Peter Paul Rubens,

32 1/2 by 26 inches, oil on canvas

By Carter B. Horsley

In recent decades, old master painting auctions have generally been quite lackluster due to lack of significant works on the market and an abundance of rather mediocre examples, often in poor condition, of virtually unknown "lesser" artists.

Sotheby’s is launching the new century with a very fine Old Master Paintings auction, highlighted by a magnificent portrait by Peter Paul Rubens, shown above. The painting, Lot 51, shown above, is entitled "Portrait of a Man as the God Mars," a 32 ½-by-26-inch oil on canvas. Portraits, of course, generally are not high on most collectors’ wish lists, but this one falls into the rarefied exception of great paintings by supreme artists such as self-portraits by Rembrandt and Van Gogh, portraits of Titus and Saskia by Rembrandt, anything by Vermeer, Giorgione, and, to a lesser extent, some works by Titian, Van der Weyden, Memling, Van Eyck, Velasquez and El Greco.

Rubens, of course, is the most flamboyant of the Old Masters, a genius at dynamic, abundant, sensuous compositions. Some of his most striking paintings, however, are multiple portraits of blacks. This work falls into the traditional genre of half-length portraits in which Titian, Bronzino and Pontormo excelled, but as fine as they are they are somewhat static compared to this bravura work.

With Rubens, one immediately senses flashes of authoritative brilliance of the kind one sees often in Tiepolo drawings – unhesitating flourishes that are precisely right. This is a quality of many great artists, of course, but Rubens was awesomely prolific and consistent and always exciting and exuberant. This may not be the quintessential Rubens portrait, perhaps because of the bland, brown background, but his treatment of the helmet, the feathers and the rust on the armor combined with the lighting and the marvelous intensity of the sitter’s stare towards the viewer are extremely compelling.

The catalogue’s description is as follows:

"The Portrait of a Man as the God Mars is a remarkably rare example of allegorical portraiture in Rubens’s oeuvre. The love that Rubens had for classical antiquity is well known;’ we are told of his practice of having the Greek and Roman poets and historians read aloud to him in the original while he was hard at work in his studio. As a young man of very limited means, he managed to make the distant journey to Italy in 1600 at the age of 23, where he studied not only the art of the Italian Renaissance, but of antiquity as well. For example, his brother Philip’s book on the customs of ancient Rome, the Electorum Libri II, published in 1608, contains five engravings of drawn copies that Rubens had made after Roman sculpture. These interests were manifest in his work throughout his life – in the subjects he chose, the way he chose to portray them in his thorough grasp of all of the intricacies and nuances of classical mythology and nuances of classical mythology and iconography, and even in his borrowings from the antique….Instances in Rubens’s portraiture where the sitter is actually portrayed as one of the ancient gods are quite rare. Marie de Medici is portrayed twice in this manner, once as Mars’ sister, the goddess Bellona, and the second time as the goddess of Peace (both Musée du Louvre, Paris). Other than these, most probably royal commissions, there appear to be no other portrait examples in the private sphere of this metamorphosis of human into god. The present work shows clearly Rubens’s debt to Titian….His Titus…is close in concept to the Mars, and may have served as an inspiration to Rubens….The same helmet appears again on a soldier in Rubens’s Raising of the Cross (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, circa 1634-37). Though now lost, this magnificent helmet, which is certainly a Renaissance burgonet all’antica, has recently been identified as a probable work by the great Milanese armorer, Filipppo Negroli [the subject of a 1998 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art]….The intensity of the sitter’s gaze and the immediacy and strength of his presence is very palpable. It even inspired the modern artist Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) to paint a self-portrait as Mars based on this painting….The present painting is first recorded in the Gerrit Muller sale of 1827 in Amsterdam. The purchaser at that sale was recorded as Nieuwenhuys, almost certainly C. J. Nieuwenhuys of Brussels, the famed art collector. It must have made its way quickly to England..., because it was recorded in the collection of Edward Gray, London….By 1854, it was in the collection of Sir Anthony de Rothschild, 1st Bt., the second son of Baron Nathan Mayer de Rothschild….[eventually, the painting was acquired] by Contini Bonacossi of Rome, from then it passed to…[Samuel H.] Kress [the great American art collector who gave thousands of old master paintings to 22 museums in the United States and especially the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and whose namesake company was a major retail competitor for decades to Woolworth’s.]"

The painting was sold by the Kress family in 1988 to David Paul of Florida who sold it to its present owner the following year.

It has a conservative estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It sold for $8,252,000, including the buyer's premium as do all the prices in this article.

Abduction of Dejanira by Nessus by Rubens

Lot 50, "The Abduction of Dejanira by Nessus," by Peter Paul Rubens, oil on panel, 7 3/8 by 5 1/2 inches

Another Rubens, albeit on a much smaller and intimate scale, is Lot 50, shown above, "The Abduction of Dejanira by Nessus," oil on panel, 7 3/8 by 5 1/2 inches. The catalogue notes that it is a sketch for a series of 100 paintings commissioned by Philip IV of Spain for his hunting lodge but not lost. It has a conservative estimate of $80,000 to $100,000. Small works by Rubens, like many of those by Tiepolo, lose none of their vigor nor attractiveness. It sold for $470,000.

Another work with Rothschild provenance is Lot 57, a good "Portrait of a Cavalier" by Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Rubens's elegant pupil. The 28 1/2-by-21 3/4-inch oil on panel was formerly in the collection of Baron Nathaniel Meyer de Rothschild in Vienna and was confiscated from his nephew, Baron Alphonse Mayer de Rothschild of Vienna and Paris during the German occupated and recovered in 1945 from a salt mine in the Loser Plateau in Austria and returned to the Rothschild heirs and eventually was acquired by the Kimbell Art Foundation who sold it at auction in 1989 at Sotheby's to its present owner. The work has a conservative estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $442,500.

Venetian scene by Francesco Guardi

One of a pair of Venetian scenes by Francesco Guardi in Lot 83

Another highlight of the sale is Lot 83, a pair of Venetian scenes by Francesco Guardi (1712-1793). The pair of paintings, each of which measures 20 ½ by 33 ½ inches, were originally part of a set of four paintings and the catalogue notes that one of the other two is in a private collection and the other in the San Diego Museum of Art. The paintings are very nice, especially in the handling of light, although they are not prime examples of Guardi’s great highlighting technique. The pair has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. The lot sold for $5,612,500.

Another Guardi, Lot 88, which also is a Venetian scene and also once belonged to the same former owner as Lot 83, Count and Countess Guy de Boisrouvray of Neuilly sur Seine, France, is quite atypical for this artist in its composition and technique as known from his mature works. It has a lighter palette and a more meticulous painting style. It measures 23 ½ by 37 3/8 inches and has an ambitious estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It failed to sell. The catalogue notes that this painting and some other similar Guardi views of the same general area "are distinguished by their light tonality, luminosity, panoramic scope and tranquil mood," adding that "Their stillness and the intricate treatment of the buildings, however, make them the most Canalettesque of Guardi’s works, relating them to Canaletto’s own first ventures into the field of view painting." The catalogue also notes that "the relationship of these paintings to those in Guardi’s more readily recognizable ‘mature’ style remained a topic of much discussion. The lack of securely datable examples brought the group to the forefront of the debate, which continued into the 1980s, on the date of Guardi’s transformation from figure painter into vedutista….Any doubt which may have persisted about the dating of the group as a whole to the late 1750’s…" in The Burlington Magazine in 1996 and 1998].

Apart from the Rubens, the most desirable painting in the auction for connoisseurs is probably Lot 106, "Hannibal the Conqueror, Viewing Italy From The Alps For The First Time," by Francisco José Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828). This 12 ¼-by-16-inch oil on canvas, shown below, is sketchy but a complete composition with a light palette not dissimilar to some sketches by Rubens. Hannibal is the central figure and is wonderfully rendered with silvery and gold colored brushwork that is typical of Goya’s best work.

Hannibal the Conqueror by Goya

Lot 106, "Hannibal the Conqueror, Viewing Italy From The Alps For The First Time," by Francisco José Goya y Lucientes, 12 ¼ by 16 inches, oil on canvas

The catalogue’s description is as follows:

"The present recently discovered oil sketch by Goya was painted while the artist while he was living in Rome in preparation for his entry in the competition of 1771 sponsored by the Academy of Fine Arts in Parma. Goya’s finished painting for that competition was itself only recently rediscovered in the collection of the Asturian Selgas-Fagalde Foundation, kept at "El Pito’ in Cudillero….The rediscovery of the Selgas-Fagalde painting was based on the identification of another oil sketch presumed to be a model for the Parma project …and on several preparatory drawings for the composition from Goya’s ‘Italian sketchbook.’….The theme chosen for the Parma composition….was based on a poem by Abbot Carlos Innocenzo Frugoni who had served as secretary of the Parma academy until 1769. Goya chose to depict the River Po in the personification of a reclining male figure with the head of an ox,…In the end, Goya did not win the competition…though he did win good notices from the jury."

The catalogue reproduces the Selgas-Falgalde painting in Madrid that is bluer and more static whereas this sketch is quite a jewel. It has a conservative estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $497,500.

Madonna and Child by Andrea del Sarto

Lot 12, "The Madonna and Child" by Andrea del Sarto,

33 1/2 by 24 1/2 inches, oil on panel

Another recent "discovery," and major auction highlight, is Lot 12, shown above, "The Madonna and Child," by Andrea del Agnolo, called Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530), a 33 ½-by-24 ½-inch oil on panel.

Del Sarto is one of the most joyous of all Italian Renaissance artists for he combines the sweetness of Raphael with the strong compositional and linearity of Michelangelo and the beauty of da Vinci in a style that is always simple but strong in composition and rich and bright in palette without the saccharine sentimentality of Correggio. He is, in fact, one of the more underrated "masters."

This painting clearly shows areas of damage but fortunately they are not critical to its appreciation and can be in-painting and restored without serious compromise. The painting, which is being sold by a New England church, is a magnificent example of Del Sarto’s artistry and has a very conservative estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. The painting's dark background was repainted a dark green in a restoration sometime ago. It sold for $1,102,500.

The catalogue provides the following description:

"After his return to his native city from a sojourn in Rome in circa 1511, Andrea del Sarto was established as one of the most respected and sought after artists in Florence. Called a ‘faultless’ painter by his biographer (and erstwhile pupil) Vasari, del Sarto was at this moment beginning to formulate his mature style, emphasizing aggressively modelled and strongly drawn forms while using a more highly keyed palette than in his earlier works. The present work dates to this first flowering of del Sarto’s style, and on stylistic grounds can be dated to circa 1516-17, a moment of intense creative activity; Del Sarto has just been commissioned by the bothers of San Francesco de’Macci…to paint what would be his most celebrated altarpiece, the so-called Madonna of the Harpies (Gallerie degli Uffizi, Florence) and was busy at work on the frescoes for the Chiostro dello Scalzo, Florence, an undertaking which occupied him over a larger part of his career, as well as a number of other significant and prestigious projects. The reappearance of the present painting is, therefore, a major addition tot he known oeuvre of Andrea del Sarto. The composition itself has been known through several versions, the best known of which is the panel in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa….Other versions which are certainly by Andrea’s studio also exist….The Madonna and Child is a painting on a thick poplar panel, which has been beautifully (and somewhat unusually) prepared with gesso on both sides. ….Like the Ottawa version, the present panel has a number of pentimenti. The position of the digits of the Infant Christ’s outstretched hand has been altered. More significantly, however, is the removal of a section of blue drapery from the Virgin’s mantle which rested on the ledge to the bright of the bambino’s feet. This has now become rather visible to the naked eye. More revealing, perhaps, is the underdrawing which has become slightly visible in some areas of the composition. Del Sarto was renowned in his own day and has remained famous for his skill as a draftsman; he was, in fact, one of the foremost proponents of the Florentine artistic ideal of disegno (the tradition of drawing as the first and most important step in the process of painting). There is a preparatory drawing for the head of the Madonna in the present work (now in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C….) which del Sarto appears to have taken from a live model in the studio. In addition, there are even some sketches on the reverse of the present panel, which may or may not be from the hand of del Sarto himself, but which certainly appear to be contemporary with the picture. The study of the present panel with infrared reflectography has revealed even more about the process of underdrawing. Del Sarto’s underdrawing style is fairly distinctive and that in the present work is typical….The figure of the bambino, for example, has been worked up much more completely by the artist…His right leg has been moved further into the right and Andrea has modelled the figure more carefully than he has bothered doing for the draperies. …Significantly, the book that the Virgin holds in her right hand has been shaded and was originally opened, with Mary’s thumb used to hold her place in the book. In the final painting version, this detail was changed, and the Virgin holds her book firmly shut.…The painting only reappeared early in the 20th century when it was donated to the present owner as a memorial gift {by Clara Winthrop of Massachusetts]. In a history of the parish published on the 25th anniversary of its foundation, a mention was made to ‘the oil painting of the Madonna and child, a copy made about 1900 from the original by Andrea del Sarto,….The picture then hung in the choir stall until it was moved the attic of the church rectory, only now re-emerging into public view."

Madonna and Child and Saint Anne by Giacomo Coppi

Lot 13, "The Madonna and Child with Saint Anne" by Giacomo Coppi,

28 1/8 by 21 inches, oil on panel

The purchaser of the del Sarto should also consider acquiring Lot 13, "The Madonna and Child With Saint Anne" by Giacomo Coppi (1523-1591), a 28 1/8-by-21-inch oil on panel, shown above. Estimated at only $20,000 to $30,000, the Virgin and Child are superbly painted in the mannerist style and palette of Pontormo. It sold for $29,900. The catalogue notes that Everett Fahy has identified the work as being by Coppi and notes that "Most of Coppi’s known works date from his maturity in the 1570s," adding that he "worked within the Mannerist circle of artists in Florence and was influenced by the work of painters such as GiorgioVasari, Rosso Fiorentino and Jacopo Pontormo." Since works by such masters are exceeding rare, this is a great opportunity to acquire a very good example of the Mannerist style, which is always very interesting and provocative. The catalogue notes that Coppi painted two scenes for the studiolo of Francesco I de’Medici in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence…and two signed and dated works are in the Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce in Florence and that he also worked in Rome completing frescoes in 1577 for San Pietro in Vincoli. The figure of the Christ child in the present painting appears to be based on a drawing by Pontormo in the Uffizi, the catalogue added. The Madonna figure is especially elegant and the Christ child is noble and knowing. Some in-painting just to the left of the Child's right cheek is not the right color, but restoration can probably correct this slightly jarring problem which is minor. The figure of Saint Anne, however, is a bit disconcerting since she looks like a man and prior in-painting was a bit clumsy in the areas of her jaw and her coat.

Among the other good Italian Renaissance paintings in the auction are the following:

Lot 15, a portrait of a gentleman, a 40-by-29 ½-inch oil on canvas, by Paris Bordone (1500-1571) that is notable for the pose of the hands and the nicely painted face but suffers from some poorly painted small objects such as books and an hourglass. It has a slightly ambitious estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $200,500.

A more successful work is Lot 25, "Portrait of a Lawyer, Said to Be Baldassare Soranzo," that the catalogue states is "attributed to Lorenzo Lotto" (1480-1556). This 33 1/2-by-27 inch oil on canvas is signed and dated and its provenance includes Louis Philippe, Chateau de Ris Orangis (King of France). The lawyer holds open a large law book and has a serious and intelligent look, although rather clumsy hands. It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $332,500.

Lot 11,"The Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist," a 29-by-22 1/4- inch oil on panel by Giovanni di Lorenzo Larciani, formerly known as the Master of the Kress Landscapes (1484-1527). This is an immensely appealing work because of the very beautiful and graceful handling of the Madonna and Child, and the interesting composition that gives prominent play to both architecture and the landscape. The face and body of young St. John the Baptist, the foreground and the bottom of the Madonna's dress are rather weakly painted by the garment worn by St. John the Baptist, on the other hand, is very effectively and charmingly done. The catalogue notes that the Larciani attribution is recent and that the panel had "traditionally been attributed to [Francesco] Granacci in the past, and it seems that Larciani may have worked closely with Granacci in some rather informal capacity." "Whatever their exact relationship, Larciani may now take his place as one of hte most individual artistic personalities active in Florence at the beginning of the century," it adds. The lot has a conservative estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $123,500.

Crucifixion by Taddeo Gaddi

Lot 2, "Crucifixion with the Madonna and Saint John the Evangelist" by Taddeo Gaddi, 23 1/2 by 12 3/4 inches, tempera on panel

Lot 2, shown above, is a very fine "Crucifixion with the Madonna and Saint John the Evangelist" by Taddeo Gaddi (active 1320-died 1366). The 23 1/2-by-12 3/4-inch tempera on panel and gold ground has an estimate of only $140,000 to $160,000. It sold for $690,000. The artist apparently worked with Giotto and the catalogue states that "the present unpublished panel would appear to date to circa 1340," adding that the "expressiveness and modeling of the figures are very assured, the work of a mature and confident artists." "The good condition of the present panel," it continued, "reveals other assured and sophisticated techniques, including his use of thin glazes of pigment over the gold ground to make it appear that the attending cherubim are materializing from thin air (in the case of the rebd cherub in th upper left, this effect appears to have ben achieved by the use of a thin red glaze, quite an elegant and delicate touch." The work was formerly in the collection of René de Saint-Marceaux who presided over a salon in Paris at 100 boulevard Marlesherbes attended by Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Ravel among others. It is an excellent early work.

Another fine early work is Lot 4, "Saints Benedict (?) and Peter, the Angel of the Annunciation in a roundel above," a 26-by-15 1/8-inch tempera on panel with gold ground by Lorenzo Niccolò (active 1392-1412). Part of a large triptych, the work is in excellent condition except for its base, but the work is very strong, bold and handsome. It has a reasonable estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $156,500.

Lot 6 is a charming and very good, arched portrait of Philip The Fair, the son of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor from 1493 to 1519 by the Master of the Legend of the Magdalene (active circa 1490-1526), an artist to whom a large number of works have been attributed but whose real identity has yet to be ascertained. The 11 1/2-by-9-inch oil on panel has the grace of many great early small Flemish portraits and is richly colored and has an estimate of only $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $470,000.

Another wonderful work is Lot 23, "The Madonna and Child with Saints John the Baptist and Jerome," by Pietro Orioli (1458-1496). This 24 1/4-by-17 1/4-inch oil on panel is of museum quality for its quite distinctive style and strong sense of dimensionality. In the past, the catalogue states, the work had been attributed to Giacomo Pacchiarotto. "Although he died at a young age, Orioli must be regarded as one of the most interesting and important artistic personalities active in Siena in the late 15th Century. His early works betray the influence of Matteo di Giovanni (with whom he likely studied) and his earliest independent works should date to circa 1483. Despite his general lack of renown, this is an exceptionally fine work and very conservatively estimated at $80,000 to $120,000. This lot did not sell.

Less aesthetically interesting but historically of note is Lot 24, "Martin Luther," by Lucas Cranach, the Younger (1515-1586), a 32 1/2-by-24-1/2-inch oil on panel, signed with the device of the winged serpent and dated 1559. Luther had been a close friend of the painter's father, the very important and famous court painter to the Electors of Saxony. The painting, which is dominated by Luther's black coat, has an ambitious estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. This lot was sold for $233,500.

Lot 26, "A Concert with Minerva, Juno and Venus Listening to a Young Bare-chested Woman Playing the Viola da Gamba, Cupid Looking on Behind," is a 49 1/4-by-39 3/4-inch oil on panel that the catalogue states is "Attributed to Francesco Maria Mazzola, called Il Parmigianino" (1503-1540). The catalogue gives quite a full account of critical analyses of the work, which has an estimate, perhaps quite conservative, of $200,000 to $300,000. It failed to sell. The three goddesses who are in the lower right corner of the painting are very well done in terms of composition and appearance although the brushwork seems a bit strange for such a master. In any event, it is quite a busy and unusual composition.

An Old Hermit by Gerald Dou

Lot 39, "An Old Hermit," by Gerald Dou, 7 x 5 inches, oil on panel

Lot 39, shown above, is a superb small painting of "An Old Hermit" by Gerald Dou (1613-1675) that has a very conservative estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. The 7-by-5-inch oil on panel was once in the collection of Lothar Frans von Schönborn, Bishop of Baumberg (1655-1729), whose important art collection was housed in his palace at Pommersfelden in Oberfranken. The painting has a very elaborate frame with putti. It sold for $376,500.

Another small gem is Lot 49, a 10 1/8-by-14-inch oil on copper by Jan Brueghel, the Elder (1568-1625) that is a very colorful, beautiful and detailed village scene that is reasonably estimated at $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,872,500.

Another work by the same artist, Lot 56, "An Extensive Landscape with Villagers, Horeseman and Wagons on a Path," a 14 1/8-by-22 1/4-inch oil on inset panel, is estimated at $600,000 to $800,000. The work was on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1976 to 1978 and was once in the collection of Pince Cantacuzeno in Paris. It sold for $$607,500.

Landscape by Jan Brueghel the Younger

Lot 53, Landscape with Holy Family by Jan Brueghel, oil on copper, 11 1/4 by 8 3/4 inches

Lot 53, shown above, is a pleasant landscape with figures by Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-1678), oil on copper, 11 1/4 by 8 3/4 inches, that has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $68,500.

Another famous "name" artist in the auction is Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678) who is represented by Lot 55, "Christ and the Pharisees," a 55 1/4-by-83 5/8-inch oil on canvas that carries a very conservative estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $266,500.

A lesser known name is Bartolomeo Manfredi (circa 1587-1620/21), but his "Bravos Drinking and Making Music," Lot 61, is likely to improve his fame for this 51-by-75-inch oil on canvas is very impressive as is its estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. "Rather than being a simple, slavish follower of Caravaggio, Manfredi himself was an innovator of the new style. His dramatically lit and often secular compositions wre tohave a deep influence on French and Netherlandish artists visiting Rome such as Baburn, Valentin, Tournier and Renier who would dessseminate the style in their native lands," the catalogue notes of the very dramatic work. It failed to sell.

Ruins by Hubert Robert

Lot 97, Ruins and figures by Hubert Robert,

oil on canvas, 28 3/8 by 23 5/8 inches

Hubert Robert (1733-1808) is one of those remarkable artists whose inventiveness never appears to lag and whose oeuvre is filled with fine compositions, one of the strongest of which is Lot 97, shown above, "A Landscape with Figures and Ruins," a 28 3/8-by-23-5/8-inch oil on canvas that is very conservatively estimated at $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $144,500.

Decorative panel by Nicolas Lancret

Lot 92, one of a set of five large panels by Nicolas Lancret,

62 1/2 by 23 1/4 inches

For those collectors with a nice large empty room in need of French-style romance, nothing might be better than Lot 92, a set of five decorative wall panels, one of which is shown below, by Nicolas Lancret (1690-1743) that are conservatively estimated at $80,000 to $120,000. Each panel is 62 1/2-by 23 1/4-inches. It sold for $156,500.

A Tiepolo putti

Lot 87, one of a pair of paintings of putti by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo,

41 by 29 1/2 inches

Lot 87 is a pair of putti paintings, one of which is shown above, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) that were once in the collection of the Duc de Talleyrand. The 41-by-29 1/2-inch paintings have an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000 and since putti are beloved it is probably reasonable because of their size and these are very large putti, so much so that their charm is almost elusive, though not Tiepolo's usual bravura. Some connoisseurs might prefer more putti in a smaller format. The lot sold for $1,102,500.

Acquavella still life with children

Lot 132, "Still Life With A Basket of Fruit and Two Children," by the Master of the Acquavella Still Life and Bartolomeo Cavarozzi, oil on canvas, 32 1/4 by 49 1/2 inches

The lavish and very well designed, as well as highly detailed, catalogue for the auction comes in a two-volume boxed set, one volume of which is devoted to still-life paintings. Perhaps the best is Lot 132, shown above, a 32 1/4-by-49 1/2-inch oil on canvas by the Master of the Acquavella Still Life (active in Rome circa 1620-1630) and Bartolomeo Cavarozzi (circa 1590-1625) who painted the children. There are many sumptuous still lifes in the auction, but the inclusion of the children peeking out from behind the still life is particularly charming and unusual. It has an appropriate estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $882,500.

See The City Review article on the Important Old Master Paintings auction at Christie's Jan. 27, 2000

See The City Review article on the Old Master Paintings auction at Sotheby's May 28, 1999

See The City Review article on the Old Master Paintings auction at Christie's May 25, 1999

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