1466 The Miracle of Einsiedeln
2019 sold for $ 370k including premium
An important engraving workshop contributed to the celebration with three images on the theme of Madonna and Child, in 21 x 12 cm, 13 x 9 cm and 10 x 6.5 cm formats, certainly offered in a wide range of price to satisfy the rich and the poor. The availability of hand colored versions would not seem impossible at that time.
The largest of these images is composed in three registers. It is dated and bears an inscription commemorating the angelic consecration of Einsiedeln. The use of a burin on a copper plate is a recent innovation that facilitates the effects of volumes and textures through oblique hatching or dotted lines.
The three images are part of the corpus attributed to the workshop of Master E. S., so designated with reference to the initials identified on other prints. His activity is not documented. He was one of the first publishers of images to date some plates, from 1461 to 1467, thus preceding by several years the engravings by Mantegna and Schongauer.
On January 29 in New York, Christie's sells a copy in very good condition of the large version of the Madonna of Einsiedeln, not colored, lot 3 estimated $ 300K. From the thirteen known impressions, it is the last in private hands.
Only 13 impressions of The Madonna of Einsiedeln by the Master E.S. are known to exist today, 12 of which are in public collections. We know very little about him — so what can we deduce from this 15th-century print, offered tomorrow in New York? https://t.co/WrYwyfh4eA pic.twitter.com/TKkoFYJewq— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) January 28, 2019
The Athletic Nudes of the Quattrocento
Throughout history, the best artists consider the questionings of their time while trying out the most recent techniques.
During the last third of the Quattrocento, the printed book provides a new medium for the illustration. Production is easy and dissemination widens. In Mantua, Mantegna is one of the pioneers who view the printed image as a separate art.
In Florence, Antonio Pollaiuolo tries also. Only one of his engraved works survives: a battle of the nudes in large size,42 x 61 cm. Even Vasari did not know other prints by him. But it was a success, as evidenced in part by the fact that fifty units still exist, and also by the full signature, non monogrammed, of the artist proud of his work: "opus Antonii Polla-ioli Florent-tini."
The theme is modern for the time. Ten naked men are busy fighting, by pairs, fiercely. Culturally, both groups are not distinguishable. This surprising lack of narrative reference suggests that the muscled anatomy of the fighters, shown in various attitudes, is the only theme of the work, to be used as a sort of modello demonstrating the skill of the artist.
We would like to be able to date this outstanding image for comparing it with the chronology of the engravings by Mantegna, whose Fights of sea gods proceed from a similar inspiration. Unfortunately, the printed image was not a major art in the Quattrocento, and no indication of date has survived.
One of the very few copies still in private hands of Pollaiolo's print is estimated $ 700K, for sale by Christie's in NewYork on January 30.
1475 The Tarots of Humanism
2009 SOLD 180 K£ including premium
The fifteenth century witnessed the invention of movable type printing. The popularization of the book generated immediately further development of wood engraving, which was practiced in Europe since the previous century.
In 1465 was printed a series of fifty engravings 18 x 10 cm, which symbolize humanism. These images are presented in five groups of ten cards: man (from beggar to Pope) ; the nine Muses and Apollo ; the seven liberal arts joined by philosophy, astrology and theology ; the three lights (sun, time and cosmos) and the seven virtues ; the celestial spheres leading to the Supreme Cause (Causa Prima) of God.
With the same content, another artist added a second and larger set around 1470, 25 x 20 cm.
Nothing is known of the origin of this work, except that some dialectical details locate it in Ferrara. Historians know it under the name of Mantegna Tarocchi. These pictures actually look like tarot cards, but there is no evidence that they could have had such a role. "Mantegna" must be understood as a simple tribute to the great artist who was one of the first of his corporation to practice engraving but is for nothing in this edition.
A copy almost complete (Rhetorica is lacking), bound in sixteenth or seventeenth century, slept since that time in a noble Italian family. It would be a reprint made about 1475, which features 47 images of the small series and two of the second one, the latter having been folded. This precious contemporary of the incunabula is estimated £ 150K at Christie's in London on December 8.
I invite my readers to consult the article Mantegna Tarocchi of Wikipedia.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result is good, especially when considering that the set was incomplete and somewhat composite: 180 K £ including premium.
1501 The Mystery of the Stag
2019 sold for $ 400k including premium
Promoter of all themes of images, Dürer realizes engravings on copper from 1496. The action is more direct : the burin of the goldsmith draws the line on the metal in the same way as a pencil is doing on the paper, unlike the chisel of the sculptor which digs in the wood the areas that will not be inked.
Copper engraving is preferred for the most prestigious editions. The drawing is thinner, allowing a better mastery of shadows and lights. Unfortunately the pressure exerted on the plate generates a wear which limits the quantity of high quality printing.
Prepared around 1501, Saint Eustace, 36 x 26 cm, is the largest image created by Dürer on copper. The hunter is seeing the crucified Christ between the antlers of the stag. This tale is an excellent support for the demonstration of the artist's know-how, staging a character in a landscape as well as various animals with superb anatomical details.
There is no doubt that Dürer created this work for promoting his art. The hunter dressed in the fashion of his time resembles the future emperor Maximilian. The landscape is inspired by Van Eyck and the overall composition is close to an illustration published by Koberger for the Legenda Aurea.
A lifetime copy of Dürer's Saint Eustace was sold for $ 720K including premium by Christie's in New York on January 29, 2013. Another one with the same watermark is listed in the same auction room on January 29, 2019, lot 30.
1652 Faust disturbed by Rembrandt
2010 SOLD 150 K£ including premium
The best master of the Christian image was Rembrandt. Using on the same plate the three techniques of printmaking (etching, drypoint and burin), he edited in 1649 one of his masterpieces, Christ healing the sick.
In 1652 or 1653, he is treating the theme of Faust. The old doctor is standing by his desk and looks a light centered by the letters INRI which comes from the window. The artist is a master of the joint use of sharp and blurred. The scientist is real, thus he is perfectly drawn. The mystical object is in an aura, and ghostly figures and symbols (including a skull) are scrambled.
Sotheby's sells on March 30 in London a print of the first state (of three). The estimate, £ 80K, is reasonable, and certainly takes into account the small size of this artwork, 21 x 16 cm. It is illustrated in the press release shared by Art Knowledge News.
The images of this great master are still circulating in large quantities on the market and are affordable: there are no less than 20 Rembrandt prints in the sale of Sotheby's, half of them with a low estimate at less than £ 5K.
POST SALE COMMENT
Excellent result, making me well pleased, for this beautiful engraving from a remarkable subject and technique : 150 K £ including premium.
I was right when considering that the estimate was "reasonable".
1656 The Elderly Silversmith and his Art
The sale organized by Swann Galleries in New York on April 25 includes no less than 40 prints by Rembrandt, the greatest ancient master of the image, best known for the quality of his self-portraits and the mysticism of hisChristian scenes. Three of them are illustrated in the blog of the auction house.
Made in 1656, the portrait of Jan Lutma shows the silversmith then more than 70 years old, sitting in an armchair and holding a candlestick. We can see on the table beside him his hammer, a pot containing punches, and a bowl from amodel created by him.
The example for sale is from the first state among three. Rembrandt is a virtuoso for mixing the techniques: this print,20 x 15 cm, is an etching completed with the dry-point, providing a nice contrast in the details of the bearded face and of the clothing. It is estimated $ 200K.
In the two later states, Rembrandt added some details of the room around the sitter. I prefer the first state,psychologically stronger because the attention of the observer does not leave this man, tired but proud to display the attributes of his brilliant career.
1726-1735 The Tribute by Jullienne to Watteau
2014 SOLD for € 265K including premium
Jean (de) Jullienne was two years younger than Watteau. He was a promoter of the business of dyes and fine fabrics of his uncle, to whom he will succeed in 1729. This wealthy young man began in 1717 to buy paintings to his friend and prepare prints.
Watteau died in 1721. He was only 37 years old but left an abundant work.
The collection of Watteau prints published by Jullienne is an early example of what is now called a 'catalogue raisonné', and it is still used today for authenticating paintings by Watteau. Jullienne commissioned for the project the best engravers including Boucher and Jean Audran.
The publication was carried out in two deliveries, in two different sizes, 49 x 32 cm and 62 x 47 cm, including a total of 619 works by Watteau. The first part was published in 1726-1728. The second part, limited to 100 copies, was published in 1735.
On November 6 in Paris, Sotheby's sells a copy of the two Recueils Jullienne, each one bound in two volumes by Padeloup before 1758. That set belonged to Czar Alexander I and obtained after 1928 the exit permit from the Hermitage collections. Many Recueils Jullienne have been dismantled by print dealers and complete copies are now exceptional. This one is estimated € 200K, lot 245.
1790 Gloomy Prisons within the Head of Piranesi
Let me take you today in one of the sites where Art is born: Lascaux. In recent years, the auction house Galateauconducts sales of books in Montignac-Lascaux. This auction house organizes most of its other activities 100 Km away, in Limoges.
The next sale will last three days, from 26 to 28 August.
The important item of the last day, lot 2048, is one of the most stunning works from the mid-eighteenth century: Carceri d'invenzione. Roma, by Piranesi. These prisons extracted from the imagination of the artist are so gloomy. The composition is exceptionally modern, made to arouse anxiety by the profusion of details, the lack of identified marks and the labyrinthine subject.
The original edition was published in 1750. Piranesi was 30 years old. Among the other masters of the strange, Füssli was 9 years old and Blake was not born!
The collection contains 16 prints, ie an engraved frontispiece and 15 prints. It is not dated, but the set, coherent with the final version of 1761, was printed in Rome around 1790. This lot is estimated 45 K €.
I found two references for oldest editions (source: old paper issues of the Gazette de l'Hotel Drouot):
On 13 October 1989 in Paris, Ader Picard Tajan sold at 1.83 MF an unbinded group of the thirteen original prints, with the frontispiece of the second edition.
On 11 October 2001 in Paris, François de Ricqlès sold at 480 KF the sixteen prints of the second edition.
1793 UTAMARO CAPTURES A MOMENT OF HAPPINESS
A copy of a masterpiece of Kitagawa Utamaro, Mono omou koi (Reflective Love), could be worth $ 1 million atChristie's in New York on September 18.
She is a young woman shown in bust, in traditional dress, her hairstyle is complicated. The head turned left, the hand under the chin, she looks at something out of view. The title tells us, she believes in love, or she symbolizes love, which is somewhat the same thing.
This work is part of a series of five published 215 years ago as an anthology of love poems. Christie's said in its press release that this copy is in excellent condition.
No need to introduce Utamaro. His art is one of the greatest of all countries and of all time. This should surprise nobody that a print, i.e. a multiple work, of this master is estimated at a price that most painters should not even imagine for their oils. The clear line of its drawing is beautiful, simply.
The catalogue is not yet online. It will tell us what are the unique characteristics that justify the expected price.
In 1992, in Paris, a Mono omou koi had been sold 2.4 MF by Chayette and Calmels. In this exceptional sale still in the memory of lovers of Japanese prints at Drouot, a remarkable portrait of actor by Sharaku was sold 680 KF. It is interesting to note that these two works date back almost to same year. To help you understand the golden age of Japanese prints, I translate in our calendar: 1793-1795.
1794-1795 The Sharaku Enigma
2009 SOLD 396 K€ including premium
We better know the biographical details of Banksy than those of Sharaku: it may look incredible.
Portraits of actors by Tōshūsai Sharaku are marvels of clarity in the design, and of expression of the characters in their respective roles. Yet Sharaku produced nothing before mid 1794, and his career lasted only ten months.
One hypothesis is that Sharaku is not an artist but a group of artists in a collaborative project led by a publisher of prints. It is relevant to note the name of this editor: Tsutaya Jûzaburô.
Two considerations support. The subject was shocking for the Japan of that time, which did not accept a too realistic art. I already said it in the Asia group for the screens of Okyo Maruyama, who were made in the same period. Also nobody knows what Hokusai did during the short time of "Sharaku."
On October 16 in Paris (Hôtel Drouot), Piasa sells a significant group of prints by Sharaku. The most beautiful, 39 x 25 cm, is estimated 50 K€.
In its press release, Piasa reminds the Huguette Berès sale, by Sotheby's in Paris in 2002 and 2003. A portrait of actor dressed as a peasant in an aggressive mood had been sold 145 K€ including premium.
POST SALE COMMENT
The print by Sharaku was more worthy than its estimate. Much more. The result, 396 K € including premium, allows to include this lot among the masterpieces.
1794-1795 Sharaku and the Kabuki
No one could identify who was hiding under the pseudonym Toshusai Sharaku, whose kabuki prints are among themost successful pictures of Japanese art. However the dates are known, since their first edition covers only ten months, during the years 1794 and 1795 of our calendar.
Oban is the size of the print, which is in a position tate-e, portrait, or yoko-e, landscape.
Kabuki is the traditional Japanese theater. It is a total show: Ka means singing, Bu dancing and Ki virtuosity.
One oban tate-e by Sharaku, 34 x 24 cm, for sale by Christie's in New York on September 14 is both one of the most expressive and one of the most rare. The kabuki actor is ready for a brawl. The arched mouth and the strabismus indicate a high concentration, and fingers wide apart assess that the man is on the defensive.
The play, the scene, the role and the actor are identified. The play was performed in Edo during the fifth month of Kansei 6, which is matching the short Sharaku period.
These realistic images with strong psychological effect displeased the contemporaries of Sharaku. It is not surprising if the images which we now regard as his masterpieces are also the rarest. This one is estimated $ 600K.
1825 The Bulls of Bordeaux
2010 SOLD 104 K$ including premium
In 1825, Goya was exiled, disillusioned by the political events of his country. In Bordeaux, he met the lithographer Cyprien Gaulon, and could experience with success the new printing technology.
He chose one of his favorite themes, bullfighting, and executed four superb drawings of action scenes in the arena.Old and sick, the great master is however displaying a fabulous dynamism in such late works. The fighting bulls of Goya are the worthy predecessors of those of Picasso.
Gaulon edited these images in 100 copies, 31 x 40 cm. It is one of the best early examples of the use of lithography in the production of artistic images. Invented a quarter of century before, this promising method was still in its development phase in 1825.
On April 28 in New York, Doyle will sell the four views separately. They are estimated $ 175 K each.
Comparing with £ 200 K which had been expected in vain in December by another auction house for a complete set, that price may seem high. Keep in mind that the price of old papers depends greatly on their condition, and let us await the outcome of the sale before concluding.
POST SALE COMMENT
When the catalog was published, the estimate became reasonable : $ 100K for each print. They have not reached that price, but all have been sold. Before fees : 85, 80, 70 and 60 K $. Including premium: 104, 98, 86 and 74 K $.
1827-1839 Birds of Double Elephant Size by Audubon
2009 SOLD 120 K$ including premium
Historians of big auction prices remember two important results achieved by Christie's in New York on collections of Audubon prints. Both had been recorded on the main work of this artist, The Birds of America. The four volumes contain the complete set of 435 hand-colored etchings.
These prints are in folio double elephant size, the largest known format for an illustrated book: 100 x 67 cm. Christie's had successively received $ 3.7 million in 1992 and 2.75 million in 1993.
Thank you to Artvalue for having recorded this information.
This gigantic dimension is related to the goal that John James Audubon had for the great work of his life: he wanted that all his birds are represented in their natural habitat, life size even for the biggest. American, he had to explore to England to find a publisher: he was Robert Havell, of London. The publication took twelve years (1827-1838). This duration was not exceptional at that time for such an ambitious book.
In its sale of 23 and 24 February in New York, Sotheby's offers four of these prints:
the American Flamingo, Plate CCCCXXXI (Lot 76, est. $ 100 K)
the Carolina Parrot, Plate 26 (Lot 69, est. K $ 70), showing a group of birds of this species that disappeared afterwards,
the Snowy Owl, Plate CXXI (Lot 70, est. K $ 70) a night scene with two birds,
the Wild Turkey, Plate 1 (Lot 68, est. K $ 50).
These prices are comparable to what is found in Artvalue for similar prints, but the condition is not perfect.
POST SALE COMMENT
The results are interesting. The best price, $ 120 K premium included, has been successively reached on the most aesthetic image (the owls) and on the most famous (the flamingo).
The group of parrots, a little mess, reached $ 86 K including premium.
The turkey, who twisted too much his neck for entering life size in the format of the page, remained unsold. Yet he had the lowest estimate of the four.
Suppose that these four plates were in a similar condition (it was to be analysed during the exhibition). If so, we conclude that aesthetics still play a role in prices in this market sector.