Simon Marmion's Successor
2014 SOLD 3.6 M$ including premium
Simon Marmion was one of the best manuscript illuminators of the second half of the fifteenth century. He managed a workshop in Valenciennes, in the County of Hainaut that went politically and artistically under Burgundian influence. When he died in 1489, Jan Provost married his widow and succeeded him.
On January 29 in New York, Christie's sells an Annunciation painted by Provost around the very first years of the sixteenth century. At that time, the artist had two workshops, in Bruges and Antwerp, and was a member of the guilds in both cities.
The Annunciation was a favorite theme of ancient painting, offering the opportunity to stage a friendly meeting between two young people, kind and charming. This one is much pleasant.
This oil on panel 52 x 40 cm has the anecdotal freshness of an illumination. We admire the detail of the angel wings treated naturalistically like the feathers of a bird, and the quality of the drawing of a small vase with flowers that anticipates by decades the importance of this theme in Flemish art.
The Annunciation is estimated $ 2M, lot 156 in the catalog.
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.
1504 Michelangelo's Lost Battle
2011 SOLD 3.2 M£ including premium
The theme was chosen: the epic battles of the Florentines against Pisa and Milan. Two large walls were entrusted to the best Italian artists of the period, Leonardo and Michelangelo.
The eldest, Leonardo, 54, chose a heroic scene of the battle of Anghiari, a terrible clash of riders for the control of a standard.
Michelangelo, 29, finds in the Battle of Cascina an excuse to show naked soldiers. Surprised by the enemy while they are bathing in the river, they take various attitudes justified by panic.
24 preparatory drawings for the Battle of Cascina are known. One of them, the only privately owned, is for sale by Christie's in London on July 5. It is a double sided sheet, 21 x 18 cm, estimated £ 3M.
This drawing in black chalk shows on the recto a muscular male back, illustrated on the release shared by AuctionPublicity. The verso includes interspersed sketches.
Michelangelo realized a cartoon of his project, but left almost immediately for Rome. The cartoon was destroyed. Leonardo began the fresco of Anghiari but failed to overcome the technical difficulties and gave up.
POST SALE COMMENT
Despite the fame of the artist, Christie's was able to find a fair estimate. This drawing was sold £ 3.2 million including premium.
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!
1517 Portrait of a Medalist
2016 SOLD for $ 3.25M including premium
Traces of raw wood indicate that this precious work had once a lid, for being used as a portable medallion. This structure is now quite rare, perhaps because such small pictures disappeared. A portrait of Melanchthon made by Holbein around 1530 retains its lid. The portable art was however common during the early Renaissance, including the folding religious triptychs.
The sitter is known: his name was Valerio Belli. He was a medalist and engraver of gems. His face is recognizable, with his Roman nose and broad eyebrows. In his left profile, hair and beard are similar as in a medal self-portrait inscribed Valerius Bellus Vicentinus.
The portrait on wood remained in Vicenza in the families of the medalist and of his executor until 1706. In 1643, the owner indicated a signature F.R. (fecit Raphael) which later disappeared but certainly cannot be a confusion with another painting in that inventory.
The authenticity of that signature by Raphael was not questioned at that time, 97 years after the death of Belli. This family tradition is also supported by an old handwritten inscription on the reverse of the wood indicating Fatto dell'ano 1517 in Rom(.) / Rafael Urbinate. No document proves that Raffaello Sanzio ever met Valerio Belli.
This portrait is considered by experts as an authentic work by Raphael of Urbino while being the only profile portrait by the master. It is estimated $ 2M. I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
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 Nativities by Bernardino Luini
In 1550 Vasari recognized his honesty and courtesy but failed to correctly transcribe his name, which contributed to plunge him into oblivion. Bernardino was however a gifted artist who reached his greatest maturity in the 1520s and died in 1532.
The Nativities are one of his favorite themes. On December 15 in London, Christie's sells a tempera and oil on panel 120 x 90 cm, lot 22 estimated £ 3M.
The work is composed in two scenes. In the foreground the Child is adored by his mother and by Joseph, in the presence of the ox and the donkey. The background is a scene from the Flight into Egypt. The dark surrounding in the manger highlights the naked body of the Child and the faces of the adults, in a pleasant iconography. A date around 1525 is plausible.
With a barely older Child, a presentation by St George of the slain dragon is similarly told in two registers. This oil on panel 104 x 80 cm was sold for € 2.3M including premium by Aguttes on November 14, 2019.
#WhatIsAClassic – Head of Old Masters Evening Sale, Clementine Sinclair explains: 'The Luini is one of the finest religious paintings by the Milanese artist, who was inspired by Leonardo, to remain in private hands.' #ClassicWeekLondon https://t.co/QDnO0cBy2S pic.twitter.com/vyJVf7Edq5— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) December 12, 2020
< 1530 The Limoges Aeneid
2020 SOLD for £ 800K including premium
This series probably occupied in full time an enamel painter for several years in the family workshop of Nouailher or Pénicaud. It was not documented in period.
The edition for Brant consisted of 215 illustrations covering the twelve books of the poem. 82 enamels of the Aeneid of Limoges have been found. The absence of images of the last three books shows that the artist was working in the sequence of the poem and that the work was stopped. The absence of a duplicate shows that he was working for a single project.
The scenes in Limoges follow Brant's illustration very closely. Understanding the action is facilitated by text bubbles identifying the characters. Aeneas and his companions, who come from Troy, have orientalist costumes. The style is medieval, but with more flexible lines than the original image.
Each picture is enamel painted on a 22 x 20 cm copper plaque. Gold heightening and thick white bring contrast and volume.
The terminus post quem is 1520, when the front sides of the Limoges plates begin to be prepared with a layer of silver which brightens up the colors. The back side is also protected by a silver foil. The terminus ante quem could be 1530 when the Gothic style goes out of fashion.
Four plaques brought together from several sources by a collector will be sold by Sotheby's in London on December 5, lot 31, lot 32, lot 33, lot 34. They respectively illustrate episodes of books II, III, IV and VIII. Each lot is estimated £ 240K.
On July 9, 2014, Sotheby's sold for £ 1.54M including premium a group of six plaques from Book VIII assembled as two rows in a single frame 65 x 82 cm, lot 2.
SOLD for £ 800K, 520K, 740K and 800K including premium
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.
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.