Tritons and Satyrs
Every period has its modern art, non-conformist, in contrast with its predecessors. From the originality of his style andhis talent, Andrea Mantegna is still today a modern artist, by the power of the expression superseding the aesthetics and by the boldness of his perspective.
He was one of the pioneers of artistic engraving. Throughout his career, he was not much interested in color effects.His printed themes are also available in trompe-l'oeil grisailles presented as friezes imitating bas-reliefs.
On April 11 in Munich, Hampel sells as a single lot three paintings in oil and tempera on wood whose alignmentwould form a frieze 150 cm long and 19 cm high. They are monochrome brown with discreet gold lines.
The work features a variety of sea monsters from mythology: tritons, centaurs, dolphins, satyrs. They play all kinds ofmusical instruments with a friendly spirit close to libertinism that would have pleased Jordaens. Correlation with theengraved art of Mantegna is obvious.
The catalog does not advance a date, but this work with powerful figures, liberated from Christian art, may well date from the last years of Mantegna who died in 1506. It may be compared to his most famous grisaille, the Introductionof the cult of Cybele at Rome, another pagan theme.
1506-1520 A Madonna with Child by Andrea Solario
2008 sold 124 K€ including premium
The estimate is 100 to 150 K€ only for lot 5 of the sale of Finarte in Rome on May 29. It is a tempera and oil on panel by Andrea Solario, 29x24 cm.
Here is the occasion, on the one hand to take you along to Italy, on the other hand to analyze if this estimate, which seems low at first sight, has chances to be exceeded.
The subject, a Madonna col Bambino, is a typical painting of the artist. The date was the subject of various assumptions spreading out according to experts between 1506 and 1520.
An interesting detail: the auction house indicates that this lot is in temporary importation in Italy, with export permitted. It means that the seller made confidence with the Italians to sell it advantageously.
In January 2000, Christie's sold a similar composition, but where the child is active, for 260 K$ before fees (figure provided by Artinfo). It is in the same pictural technique as that of Finarte, and a little larger. The price of the old paintings is more stable than those of the contemporary art, and one can thus consider that these 260 K$ constitute a maximum for our lot. At today's rate, that makes 165 K€.
I did not find another work so close in the history of the sales, I will thus be satisfied with this only example to confirm that the estimate given by Finarte seems well targeted.
POST SALE COMMENT
This painting was sold 124 K € including fees. Coming back to my analysis, I confirm that the low estimate and the price were in line with market realities.
1510 Massys meets Erasmus question : Who is Mad ?
2009 SOLD 375 K$ including premium
The sale at Christie's, on January 27 in New York, is devoted to the collection of an art scholar, Julius Held. It is an original set, without major work but involving sympathetic and well typed subjects.
The allegory of folly by Quentin Massys is the highlight of the sale. This is an oil on panel 60 x 48 cm, estimated 300 K $.
The fool has mischievous eyes, a prominent beaked nose, huge ass ears and a Polichinelle hunched back. His attributes are also curious: A singing cock lying on his head, a stick whose pommel is a devil who displays his buttocks. This is breathing wit and joy. He makes the gesture of silence, closing his mouth and expressing the irony.
Who is crazy? Is it the fool, or is it everybody else? This is the question posed by Erasmus, at the same time. The Massys painting was made circa 1510, the Praise of Folly was published in 1511. The two men knew each other for nearly twenty years. It is quite the questioning of one of the most important humanist philosophers that the painter represented in this painting.
POST SALE COMMENT
The choices of the collector whose part of the estate was dispersed were popular. In this successful sale, our nice painting obtained a good result: K $ 375 inclusive.
1510-1513 Poor Lucretia
2018 SOLD for $ 2.9M including premium
Not far from Nürnberg, Lucas Cranach is necessarily influenced by Dürer with whom he competes for commissions. He is working since 1504 at the Saxon court in Wittenberg.
Cranach's vision of Lucretia follows Dürer as he is interested in her suicide instead of the rape. With a portrait quality that matches Dürer's art, Cranach imagines the very beginning of the mortal action, when the exemplary virtue has not been cancelled by the physical pain.
Lucretia is not Eve. In Livy's story, she is a totally innocent victim who reacts in an admirable action. The Lucretia of Livy opens the way for the Republic which annihilates the tyranny. Cranach's Lucretia opens the way for the reformation of the mores by Luther.
The first two representations of Lucretia's suicide by Cranach are oils on wood of the same size and composition, 60 x 49 cm and 60 x 47 cm, and showing the same seater. She is plump for being desirable by the son of the king, with sumptuous clothes and jewels which assess that her aristocratic affiliation was ineffective to avoid the drama.
The earlier painting has a terminus ante quem at 1511 linked to a parqueted preparation of its wood support, a short lived technique that was no longer proposed after that date. The gaze is straight but resigned. The tip of the blade reaches the skin just at the edge of the coat as if the woman still wanted to hide her act. It was sold for $ 5.1M including premium by Sotheby's on January 26, 2012.
The second painting brings subtle changes of attitude more in line with the heroic purpose of the allegory. The hand holding the dagger is firm. The tip of the blade under the bare breasts becomes the focus of the composition. The expression of the face is determined. Its terminus ante quem is 1514 based on a workshop copy that has been dated. It is estimated $ 2M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on February 1, lot 10.
Compared to these two paintings whose intense psychology follows Dürer and anticipates Titian, the many Lucretia later painted by Cranach are commercial works where the poor Roman heroine looks more and more like his Venus.
1516 Fra Bartolommeo, a Friend of Raphael
2009 SOLD 2.15 M£ including premium
A large oil on panel, 149 x 122 cm, estimated £ 2 million, could be the event in upcoming auctions in London. Submitted by Christie's on July 7, it is signed by Fra Bartolommeo and dated 1516.
One year before his death, the Florentine master was familiar with the work of Raphael and Michelangelo. Much better! He had without doubt a great influence on Raphael, a little younger than himself, by the exceptional quality of his drapery and his expressive power of color.
Becoming a Dominican friar after having supported Savonarola, he only accepted orders for religious subjects. Here we see the Virgin and St. Elizabeth encouraging an enthusiastic friendship between the two putti Jesus and John. The scene is placed under a tree before an imaginary landscape.
The colors are nice and neat, the drawing is clean without being too present, the draperies are elegant, the balance of the composition is amazing.
This painting coming from a collection well known since the nineteenth century is a true rarity on the art market at auction. The estimate above is much conservative. For comparison, a double-sided 27 x 19 cm drawing of Fra Bartolommeo, showing studies of heads, had reached $ 1.9 million charge included at Sotheby's on 23 January 2008. I like to believe that Christie's is already preparing a triumphant press release.
POST SALE COMMENT
I continue to believe that this lot was better than its estimate, which it hardly reached. At £ 2.15 million including premium, we assume that the buyer is happy!
Dragon and Child
2019 sold for € 2.3M including premium
His Madonna and Child with Saint George and an Angel is a complex narrative work. Four examples of this painting are known. It was probably conceived in the 1520s, a period of greater maturity of the artist, after the death of Leonardo.
Four characters are closely grouped in the foreground. The Child on the lap of his Mother puts a foot on the head of the decapitated dragon, symbol of Evil, and presents the palm to St George. The face of the Virgin is in the style of Leonardo. Quiet and kind, she does not show an interest in the dramatic scene that happens in front of her. An angel plays the lute. Further on, the white horse of the saint is staying beside the headless body of the monster.
An oil on panel 104 x 80 cm, already correctly attributed to Luini, was since the 1870s in the Cook collection. In 1900 the collector buys from his expert Charles Robinson a Salvator Mundi by the same artist. The experts will attribute it much later to Leonardo. It was sold for $ 450M including premium by Christie's on November 15, 2017.
The scene with St George was sold for £ 173K including premium by Christie's on July 6, 2017. Its new owner cleared it of a recent yellow varnish that blemished faces and clothings. The repaints were removed to better reveal the beautiful original pigments and this piece appears again as an original artwork by Luini.
It is estimated € 1.8M for sale by Aguttes in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) on November 14, lot 60. Here is the link to the press release shared by Drouot.
1520 A Calvary attributed to Barend van Orley
2008 SOLD 850 K€ before fees
In the category of old paintings, one of the highlights of this season will be sold by Lempertz in Cologne on November 22, lot 1328.
This large oil on panel, 140 x 130 cm, elegantly circumvented, was probably the central part of a triptych for an altar. Two panels that were possibly the wings of the triptych are in a seminary in Cologne.
Christ on the cross is in the background, surrounded by the thieves. The holy women, the donor, a memento mori are composing the foreground with a profusion of details and brilliant colors.
In the mid-nineteenth century, this painting was described as a work of Barend van Orley, but the lack of information on its original localization make contemporary experts more cautious on the attribution. The identification of one of the donor canons allows to date the work to 1520-1525. Barend van Orley painted portraits and religious scenes. He worked in Brussels at the court of Margaret of Austria. He was a contemporary of Raphael, of Dürer and of Cranach.
Uncertainties about the origins are balanced by the iconographic quality and by the large size of the painting, allowing the auction house to expect 1.2 million €.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sold 850 K € excluding charges, this painting has not reached its low estimate (which I announced at € 1 million in my preview).
It is still a very good result. Congratulations to Lempertz.
1524 A Visit in Arezzo
2019 sold for £ 470k including premium
After the short reign of the austere Adrian VI, the election of a new Medici Pope in November 1523 immediately attracted to Rome the Tuscan artists. Vasari reported the transit by the Rosso in the city of Arezzo on his way to Rome in 1524. A native of Arezzo, Vasari was certainly influenced by this opportunity to highlight his hometown.
In Arezzo, the Rosso visits a painter named Giovanni Antonio Lappoli who had just been commissioned for an important private altar. Lappoli is a lesser artist. The Rosso pulls him out of trouble by making a preparatory sketch for him.
The 12.6 x 12 cm black chalk drawing has been identified after being undetected for several centuries due to an incorrect attribution to Michelangelo. It is estimated £ 500K for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 3, lot 307. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
On the theme of the Visitation, this drawing shows ten characters on a staircase. They are naked according to the usual practice at that time for the preparatory drawings of paintings. Despite its small size, it is exquisitely done, with a light effect that invites the use of bright colors in the final work.
Lappoli actually used the sketch. Some characters have been substituted in the altar painting, probably at the request of the patron. It is still in Arezzo.
The Rosso had taken a great care when creating this drawing which deserved Vasari's praise. However he did not create an original work for his friend : his Marriage of the Virgin painted in the previous year staged a similar group on the same staircase.
1525-1530 The Funerary Angels of Fugger the Rich
2019 SOLD for € 2.35M including premium
With one of his brothers and also in the name of another brother recently deceased, Jakob the Rich has built in Augsburg from 1509 to 1512 a chapel in the style of Italian funerary architecture, which is an innovation for that time in Germany. For the decoration of this grandiose monument, he calls on the best German artists : Dürer, Burgkmaier, Breu, Hans Daucher. He dies in 1525.
The furnishing of this chapel is scattered between 1817 and 1821 under a pretext of modernization. It included an alignment of beige limestone putti about 30 cm high carved by Daucher, grouped in pairs on a marble balustrade. The total number of original putti is not identified.
Each statuette shows a baby-faced angel leaning on a sphere that symbolizes the vanity of earthly occupations. They are different one another in terms of facial expression, hairstyle, leg position, allegorical meaning.
In 1921 the Fugger family decides to restore the chapel. An active search leads to five putti distributed in several neighboring gardens. They are now kept at the Maximilian Museum in Augsburg.
Two other putti have just been found in the château de Beaurepaire at Martinvast near Cherbourg, where their presence had never been identified. The provenance is however understandable : the castle was bought in 1867 by the banker Arthur de Schickler for his project of an extravagant neo-Gothic residence with a Moorish park.
The Martinvast putti do not form a pair together but separately with two specimens of the Maximilian Museum. Having escaped in their attic the degradations of an outdoor storage, they keep intact the sharpness of the carving by the master. They remain together as lot 35 for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on May 16. The catalog proposes a date around 1525-1530.
#AuctionUpdate Les magnifiques putti, chefs-d’œuvre de la Renaissance allemande atteignent 2.3 millions €. Oeuvres de Hans Daucher, vers 1525-1530, ils ornaient autrefois la chapelle de la prestigieuse famille Fugger à Augsbourg #SothebysDecArts pic.twitter.com/V3l2mFQro2— Sotheby's France (@SothebysFr) May 16, 2019
1531 A Modello for Doria
2011 sold 780 K$ including premium
In the interior decoration of the Renaissance, the tapestry was as important or even more than fresco or painting. Thedifficulties of textile conservation made lost much of the ambience of high luxury of that time.
The tapestries designed by Raphael for the Vatican were famous. One of his direct students, Perino del Vaga, receivedan order for a series of tapestries for the palace of Andrea Doria in Genoa.
The theme, entitled Furti di Giove, confirms that one had some good time at the court of Genoa. The king of the godsran behind all the freshies of his mythological time. The tapestries were woven in Flanders between 1532 and 1535and then vanished, old-fashioned and certainly worn out, one century and a half later.
The cartoons did not survive. Only a few remaining fragments of preparatory drawings were recorded when a fullmodello has resurfaced from oblivion. This large drawing in pen, ink and wash, 44 x 40 cm, was intended to presentthe draft to the patron, about 1531.
An architected border introduces into an alcove where the naked Jupiter and Juno recline. They look serious, but we can assume that the god appeared in a more sympathetic attitude during his extramarital affairs. They are surroundedand excited by a bunch of hyperactive Cupids.
The relationship with the art of tapestry makes this image an important and valuable link for understanding thedecorative arts of that time. The drawing is estimated $ 600K, for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 26.
POST SALE COMMENT
This uncommon drawing was sold $ 780K including premium. Despite its cultural importance, it was not a foregone conclusion.
The Court Fool of Anne Jagiellon
2017 SOLD for £ 2.17M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
This portrait is part of the interest in madness and deformities that follows the Praise of folly by Erasmus. The wrinkled face is ordinary, maybe Lappish or Gypsy. The simplified design of the gown in the same colors as the conical clown hat and the imitation of a gold brocade on the collar reveal that she is an actress. She carries a paper of which she is certainly the messenger. The amused smile suggests that she knows the content.
Rings hang in groups on the cord necklace, probably by reference to a magic trick. Only one other illustration from the same period includes a similar piece of jewelry. This latter artwork identifies the model as Elisabet Stulta (Foolish Elisabeth).
The portrait of Elisabet is a copy that was already in the collection of Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol, son of Emperor Ferdinand of Habsburg and Anne Jagiellon. The painting sold by Sotheby's had some revisions in the drawing, revealed by infrared inspection. It is an original portrait, perhaps of the same woman, probably taken from life.
Fools, jugglers and buffoons had an important role at court but not enough for it to be documented, with some notable exceptions such as Triboulet at the same period in France. Elisabet was probably a female jester to Anne Jagiellon who was queen consort of Bohemia and Hungary from 1526 and also of Germany from 1531.
From its Erasmian theme, an attribution to Massys or to Cranach the Elder tempted experts in the 19th century, but the ill-proportioned hands were not painted by a top master. The current hypothesis, far from being demonstrated, is that it is a work by Jan Sanders van Hemessen around 1525 in his training period, during the lifetime of Massys. Massys and van Hemessen were Flemish : we should rather look for a painter in Prague or Vienna around 1535. Jakob Seisenegger has been suggested as the original artist of the Elisabet Stulta.
1535 Madonnas with a Long Neck by Parmigianino
2009 SOLD 780 K€ including premium
This artist was named Francesco Mazzola. According to a common custom in his time, he was called according to the name of his hometown, Parma. He is therefore especially known as il Parmigianino.
Painter, fresco maker, draftsman, etcher, he practiced all the graphic techniques of his time mostly to represent religious subjects. He was among the first to distort the body, starting with his own: his self portrait in a convex mirror, a work of his youth (he was 20 years old, 1523-1524), attests to his interest in the study of forms.
His most frequent subject was the Virgin and Child, to which he gave a rather disturbing look. The Madonna is characterized by a long and fragile neck and it is hard to imagine why he did it so. The child, although naked in the arms of his mother, is no longer a baby. Could we see in Parmigianino a precursor of the great extensions of Greco? Certainly not, as some examples of his art show a horizontal elongation of the child that contradicts the vertical extension of the mother.
No matter that these works are no longer in the fashion of our time, they had their role in art history.
The Madonna with the long neck that is at the Uffizi Museum in Florence is one of his largest paintings (2.16 x 1.32 m), dated 1535. On March 25, Sotheby's sells in Paris a preparatory drawing for this painting. An estimated 500 K €.
POST SALE COMMENT
Very good result for this drawing, rewarding its role in art history: 780 K € premium included.
1537 The Symbol of the Nude by Cranach the Elder
The women painted by Cranach the Elder are cute, even when they are naked. This theme may seem surprising at a time when Luther wanted to reform the morals. In fact, goddesses, nymphs, the Graces or the Lucretias become symbols of innocence, virtue and fertility.
On November 7 in Paris, Audap et Mirabaud sell a Nymph at the spring.
Lying on her back, the beauty is sleepy. Her nakedness is barely protected by a gauze. A Latin inscription at the top left supports the message: "Do not interrupt the sleep of the nymph of the sacred spring." A couple of birds is peckingaround.
The coat of arms of the artist enables to date this painting on panel after 1537. Here are its dimensions: 49 x 74 cm.
It is illustrated in the article shared by Le Figaro, and announced with an estimate of € 3M.
1542 woman in black in augsburg
2017 sold for £ 790k including premium
The fortune of the Fugger family has become legendary. Nobody was wealthier than the bankers of Charles V. They resided in Augsburg that was for many years a capital city of good taste, famous for its silversmiths.
History also retained the name of a close adviser of Fugger, Matthäus Schwarz. One of the most original minds of his time, he was one of the first modern economists and paid a particular attention to the evolution of his own clothes by considering that their history marked his biography.
For the 35th birthday of his wife Barbara on 21 August 1542, Schwarz ordered her portrait adorned with astrological indications to the leading painter of Augsburg, Christoph Amberger, known as a portraitist of Emperor and Fugger.
Amberger belongs to the post-Dürer generation. Sitters pose with patience in an attitude that reveals their temperament. In this oil on panel 72 x 61 cm, Barbara Schwarz is seen at mid-length with rich embroidered and laced clothing that honor her husband's hobby. She holds a piece of silverware.
Another example of the humanistic quality of the art in that period is the portrait of the merchant Baldinger painted in Nuremberg in 1545 by Georg Pencz, one of the best successors to Dürer. This oil on panel 135 x 118 cm was sold for £ 5.6 million including premium at Christie's on July 6, 2010.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's from their new 'The Costumist' video series. Sotheby's catalogue and Ms O'Reilly in the video comment that the black dye was very expensive : a black dress was a symbol of the utmost wealth.