1805 Brawls for Ghosts
2013 SOLD 720 K$ including premium
The project is rough from the early stages. Cromek wanted to have a choice among 40 drawings, but Blake produced a mere 20. These two men were competitors as printers and Cromek refused Blake's test of the first image. He entrusted the job to another craftsman, so depriving Blake of the monetary benefit of his art.
The book was published in 1808, with 12 illustrations from those prepared by Blake in 1805. Cromek had retained all the drawings, which were auctioned as a single lot in 1836 for the pittance sum of £ 1.25.
The portfolio of Blake's drawings for Blair's poem was discovered intact in 2001 by a bookseller at one of its competitors. The finding was announced to the media and immediately made the subject of a dispute over ownership.
Sotheby's pushes further the media by organizing a dedicated sale for this set on May 2, 2006 after having exhibited it in its main rooms. The artworks are separated.
The market did not follow (perhaps in part because of the still recent legal trouble). 8 of the 20 lots are unsold. The highest price, $ 1.6 million including premium, is paid on the Death of the strong wicked man, purchased by the Société des Amis du Louvre.
The Gambols of ghosts is one of the unsold of 2006, and one of the images not published by Cromek. Like the rest of the series, this drawing is made in pen and ink wash embellished with delicate shades of watercolor. Its size is 27 x 21 cm.
Animated by frantic ghosts with longer bodies, it is one of the most fantastic images of the set. It shows altogether heaven, hell and purgatory while naked women are dancing in a circle around a tree in the background.
This drawing comes again at Sotheby's, now with the conservative estimate of $ 400K, in New York on January 30. Here is the link to the catalog. It is also shown on the page where Artnet expressed an intense disappointment from the sale results of 2006.
POST SALE COMMENT
The estimate is much exceeded but the price, $ 720K including premium, is low when compared to the best results from the sale of 2006.
1809-1815 FROM PARIS TO ST. PETERSBURG
2012 SOLD 50 K€ INCLUDING PREMIUM
The center of the world, for the Emperor Napoléon, was certainly himself. Forget his wars for a moment. He made Paris his capital and wanted to build the most beautiful monuments in the style of his time.
In all areas, he wanted to be served by the best. In architecture, it was Fontaine. In 1810, Fontaine and his associate Percier are responsible for designing the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. In 1811, Napoléon asked them to start a disproportionate project of Imperial City west of the Tuileries, which will never be made.
The French taste is exported, in a trend already strong at the end of the previous century. In the random of our columns, we have already met Dominique Daguerre who moved to London, Dugourc the ambassador of the French furniture in Spain and Russia, as well as Odiot who supplied silverware to the Imperial family scattered throughout Europe.
By the chance of the alliances, Tsar Alexander I was for some time on good terms with France. For his project to beautify St. Petersburg, he had a readymade model: Paris. Napoléon asked Fontaine to provide the Tsar with exterior and interior views of the monuments that were the glory of Paris.
This project was completed. Fontaine made 105 watercolors, of which he retained the originals and had copies made for the Tsar by his studio. These copies were sent in thirteen deliveries from 1809 to 1815. This set is kept at the Hermitage Museum.
An album of large folio size (62 x 50 cm), containing 39 original watercolors by Fontaine and 5 later copies, is estimated € 200K, for sale in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) on November 17 by Oger et Camper.
POST 2010 SALE COMMENT
Unsold. The volume contained only 39 of the 105 original watercolors. It was closely associated with the history of the Empire, but no direct link with the Emperor. Since nobody wants it at a price that seemed reasonable, this lot would be better understood if it were in a public collection.
PRE 2012 SALE DISCUSSION
The album was interesting for the history of Paris and the understanding of the work of Fontaine,but it was composite.
It was dismantled, and half of the drawings are presented by the same auction house, which meanwhile became Oger-Blanchet, in Paris on March 26.
The view of the Corps Législatif animated by small boats on the Seine, 32 x 25 cm, is estimated €12K.
POST 2012 SALE COMMENT
The 22 watercolors, sold individually, totaled € 220K including premium. An interior view of the Pantheon was preempted by the Musée du Panthéon for € 50K including premium.
1812-1820 Goya as a Humor Nester
2010 SOLD 880 K£ including premium
It shows an eagle nester in a very awkward position. Hanging from his rope, legs waving in the air, the unfortunate mountaineer is trying desperately to grab a vertical rock face. The eagle arrives, open claws, beak full of a nice rabbit. The contrast is striking between the free bird and the hampered man.
The composition, very airy, is quite effective and reduced to the essentials. This beautiful drawing in sepia wash, 20 x 14 cm, was among the artist's private notebooks, and is difficult to date. Let us suppose, by relying on the catalog, that it was made between 1812 and 1820. It is estimated £ 700K.
POST SALE COMMENT
This funny drawing was sold at 880 K £ including premium, within its estimate range.
1812-1820 From a Private Album of Goya
2017 SOLD for $ 1.1M including premium
I described it as follows in 2009 :
'Goya enjoyed drawing to the point of setting up some albums for his private use at some time between 1812 and 1820. One of them known as the sepia album includes a suite of scenes on the theme of hunters and their dogs.
'Our huntsman is at rest in a sunny day, gun down, looking straight to the artist. Details, like the shadow of the hat on his forehead, demonstrate the effectiveness of the artist. The dog is standing, leaning forward for a potential game, waiting for orders. The ground and landscape are only outlined, but it is quite sufficient to provide a nice ambience.'
I am now disputing the idea of albums constituted for the private enjoyment of the artist but it still looks clear that the drawings were not intended to be used as modelli for his oil paintings.
We must keep in mind that Goya was keen to experiment all the techniques of engraving. Most of the drawings in his albums have a serial number although most of them do not belong to a sequence. They were possibly a burst of creativity for printed illustrations that were never executed, superseded by the political involvement of the artist against the absolute monarchy of King Ferdinand VII.
1813 David and Apelles
2009 SOLD 650 K£ including premium
A drawing representing a legendary ancient scene has all the necessary qualities to meet its estimate of £ 600 K on July 8 at Sotheby's in London. Good size, 28 x 39 cm, signed L. David and dated 1813, it was very carefully made, which reminds us that David was also one of the best portrait drawing artists. It is made with pen and black ink, and a wash of gray and light beige, and white over black chalk.
It shows Alexander and his concubine Campaspe in the studio of Apelles, which makes a synthesis of all the themes in the fashion of that time. Heroic (Alexander), erotic (Campaspe is nude), art (the painting being completed by Apelles is well presented in the drawing), symbolic (the work in the work shows the two characters at sea, crossing each on a boat and holding hands). It is also a tribute of David to Apelles, who was the greatest painter of ancient Greece.
The ancient art market loves the works that have not circulated for a long time. This drawing, not exhibited since 1925, was found again in 2001.
POST SALE COMMENT
May I compare David and Ingres? The David drawing was sold 650 K£ premium included.
In Paris by Jean-Marc Delvaux on June 26, a drawing by Ingres on a theme of Roman history was sold 960 K€ inclusive.
The dimensions were comparable, but the subject matter of David had seemed more original, with a unique reference to art history. The Ingres was made on blue paper. This could have plaid in its favor.
1814 The Constable Valley
2017 SOLD for £ 1.8M including premium
In 1814 the artist's friends are sorry. He works in the studio from oil sketches executed outdoors and the result does not have the finish of a masterpiece. Let him take the example of Claude Lorrain ! Constable then tries a new process by which he begins the outdoor work on the final format.
This intermediate phase lasted until his move to London in 1816 and excited his ambition. From 1819 to 1825 he painted his six-footers in his studio by relying upon his previous works, his memory and his sensitivity.
A scenery of the flooded valley has just been re-attributed to Constable because the high quality of its realization matches his 1814-1816 technique. This oil on canvas 51 x 91 cm is atypical in Constable's art by this illustration of a flood and by its foreground with cattle in Dutch taste.
The attribution to R.R. Reinagle had seemed plausible. This artist was known as a copyist of the Dutch masters and had worked in the Stour valley during the flood of 1799. Nevertheless this was not enough to reject an attribution to Constable.
Until his success with the six footers Constable had essentially a local clientele. The assumption that a patron asked for a specific composition may be accepted. This artwork seems to be the wedding gift commissioned in 1814 to Constable for the daughter of the owner of the meadows in the foreground by her wealthy husband.
This painting is estimated £ 2M for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 6, lot 40. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1822 The Everlasting Beauty of Lucrezia d'Este
2019 SOLD for € 2.5M including premium
Canova begins working for English clients before the end of the Napoleonic Empire. A marble bust of Peace carved in 1814 for presenting to his best British patron was sold for £ 5.3M including premium by Sotheby's on July 4, 2018.
In his depiction of the feminine ideal of beauty, Canova is not limited to allegories. He also includes literary, mythological and historical figures.
One of his latest works, sold in 1822 to an English banker, is a portrait of Lucrezia d'Este, the Duchess of Urbino who astonished her contemporaries by her ever youthful face. Two and a half centuries later her extra-marital affairs were forgiven.
This portrait copies the triangle of the cheeks and the small mouth of the duchess from period pictures. The symmetrical hair is pulled back to form a large bun in the shape of a triple crown, releasing the tall forehead according to the fashion of her time. Hair curls fall on the temples.
This 42 cm high marble bust will be sold by HVMC in Monte Carlo on April 27, lot 121.
The image is shared by Wikimedia with attribution ThéodoreBasbous [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
1822 The Metamorphosis of the Aiglon
In the same year his model for a figure of St John the Baptist is ready : he negotiates with an engraver the edition of this image. The first marble, made in the following year, is bought by the ambassador of Louis XVIII to the Holy See after the withdrawal of an English client.
The very young boy is naked, sitting on a stool entirely covered with a lambskin whose head hangs on one side. Curiously he has some resemblances with the King of Rome, whom Canova had not met but whose portrait by Gérard had been widely published.
Is St John the Aiglon? We will never know. Such a metamorphosis was not documented by the artist, but an allegory of the Concord lost a reference to Empress Marie-Louise at the time of the fall of the Empire. Considering that the lamb is the Agnus Dei, it appears that the two inspirations have mingled. A reference of this sheep to the shepherd who discovered the Roman primordial twins seems too complicated.
The banker Baring, who became Lord Ashburton in 1835, commissioned several statues to Canova. These marbles of the end of career of the artist benefit fully from his exceptional know-how, bringing the marble a sensual touch which evokes a real life skin.
One of them is a bust of Lucrezia d'Este considered as an allegory of beauty. It was sold for € 2.5M including premium by HVMC on April 27, 2019. The infant St John, marble 65 cm high almost identical to the 1817 figure, is estimated £ 600K for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 3, lot 35. Considering the degradation of Canova's health in 1822 followed by his death on October 13, it is possible that this second and last St John was finished by his assistants in his workshop.
Baring also owned by Canova a bust of Beatrice d'Este and a bust of Peace. He was also a patron of Thorvaldsen.
1823 Divine Light on the Alp
2018 SOLD for £ 2.53M including premium
This master of landscape painting has traveled very little. The topographic reality does not interest him. He nevertheless paints with great care the textures of meadows, trees and mountains of his imaginary views.
His works are very rare on the art market. The two oils on canvas for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 12 come however from different sources. Both display an illumination of the landscape by a divine source. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
At lot 8, Landschaft mit Gebirgssee am Morgen, 72 x 93 cm, is estimated £ 2M. The scenery is divided into three distinct parts. The foreground is the alp with vegetation and life. The background is the inaccessible and immutable mountain, anticipating Hodler. The lake separates them like a purgatory between earth and heaven.
The lonely man is very tall but his figure looks dwarfed against the lake. The opposite bank is illuminated in its whole length by the sublime beam.
Lot 12, Sonnenblick im Riesengebirge, 26 x 32 cm, is estimated £ 500K. The foreground is a rocky slope on which firs and dead trees alternate in the darkness. The mystical light of the sun begins to hit the mountain on the other side.
These paintings are not dated. Landschaft can be compared to works made circa 1823 by Friedrich from views of the Alps by J.C.C. Dahl. The post quem terminus of Riesengebirge is 1810 when the artist made a walking tour in this mountain range between Silesia and Bohemia. It may have been created around the same time as the Landschaft.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
Lot 8 SOLD for £ 2.53M
Lot 12 SOLD for £ 2.17M
1823 the favorite at saint-ouen
Madame du Cayla (Zoé) is the favorite of this widower king. Daughter of Omer Talon, a magistrate who had unlocked the secrets of the difficult relations between the new king and his brother Louis XVI at the end of the latter's reign, this pretty woman could become the Pompadour of the new regime.
Louis XVIII had rebuilt for Zoé the palace of Saint-Ouen. The king is impotent and she is perhaps not his mistress. Several portraits of the king in his coronation robes attest that Louis XVIII was still hoping to enjoy the splendor of his rank, but he could not be sacred.
Specialist of court portraits and Baron d'Empire, the painterFrançois Gérard overcame without difficulty this political change. In 1823, Madame du Cayla organizes a great feast in her château. A portrait of the king by Gérard is inaugurated on this occasion.
On June 15 in Paris, AuctionArt sells the portrait of Zoé du Cayla on the terrace of the Château de Saint-Ouen with her two children, painted by Gérard between 1821 and 1823, lot 31estimated € 800K linked here to the bidding platform auction.fr.
This oil on canvas 228 x 177 cm was presented by the king to his favorite and was later owned by her daughter who will become by marriage a princesse de Beauvau-Craon.
Gérard was highly skilled in the realistic portrayal of women in their bright satin dresses fashionable in his time. The portrait of the boy is less effective.
1823 washington by the peales
Specializing in portraits of personalities at the time of the emancipation of America, CW Peale obtained a sitting session by Washington as early as 1772 and worked six additional times with the Independence hero. A full length standing portrait of the general in Princeton 244 x 157 cm painted in 1779 was sold for $ 21,3M including premium by Christie's on January 21, 2006.
The boy Rembrandt had a promising skill. At age nine, he was introduced to Washington by his father. In 1795 it is the consecration for him. Aged 17, he gets in his own right the acceptance of the President for three sessions of 3 hours each.
It is easy to understand the intimidation of the young Rembrandt before the 63 years old iconic figure. He sees the general older than he actually is and his realistic and dignified portrait is much welcomed.
In 1822, Rembrandt wants to restart his career in New York where he introduces himself as an authentic witness and somehow the depositary of the true figure of the late first President of the United States. He is preparing in 1824 a portrait which will be purchased by the Congress ten years later.
He conceives in 1823 an epic portrait starring the general before Yorktown, on horseback surrounded by his officers. An oil on canvas 92 x 74 cm is shown to the government as the original study of the project but no one wants to commit to the large size version that is not yet started.
This first painting is estimated $ 2M for sale by Christie's in New York on May 21, lot 34.
The only other piece executed on this model is the final version 363 x 307 cm achieved by Rembrandt at his own expense and rejected by the Congress in 1825.
1826 The Picturesque Channel of Bonington
2015 SOLD for £ 2.5M including premium
Spending much of the year on the French coast of the Channel, Bonington observes the extreme colors of the day at sunrise and sunset. Turner also had been inspired by Girtin.
At that time, the French began to take interest in the preservation of their heritage. Bonington made a few illustrations for the first volumes, devoted to Normandy, of the Voyages Pittoresques dans l'Ancienne France by Taylor and Nodier.
Influenced by Delacroix, Bonington transposes his effects of light into oils on canvas from 1823 with a fluidity and easiness that break from classicism. He finally sees Turner's landscapes in 1825.
On July 9 in London, Christie's sells an oil on canvas 60 x 81 cm showing fisherfolk and a boat on the beach, lot 26 estimated £ 2M. The halo in the pure sky is worthy of Turner. This artwork is not located but it is not surprising because the Romantic artists did not paint outdoors.
This typical painting from the very short period of Bonington's maturity was probably made in 1826 just before his departure for Venice. Like Girtin before him, he could have become a great artist. He died of tuberculosis in 1828, aged 26.
1827 El Sordo's Grandson
On January 31 in New York, Sotheby's sells a portrait by Goya of his grandson Mariano. This oil on canvas, 52 x 41 cm, made in 1827, is estimated $ 6M. Here is the link to the catalog.
Goya is 81 years old, and takes care to indicate his age in a large inscription on the back of the canvas. Like Titian's,the works of the old age of Goya have a freedom, a spontaneity facilitated by the fact that, still passionate about hisart, he has nothing more to demonstrate to commercial customers.
The time is hard to Goya. His political exile in Bordeaux is voluntary, in disgust against the come back to an authoritarian monarchy. He left to Mariano the Quinta del Sordo, that home with his dramatic frescoes in the outskirts of Madrid.
The portraits of the last period of the master are very rare, and only show his closest friends. This one was doneduring a brief visit to Madrid, poorly documented, probably made for business.
Mariano is now close to 21 years old. His grandfather shows an ideal teenager, looking younger than his age, well dressed. The brush is fast, giving a spontaneity similar as in a drawing. The gaze is straightforward but still fixed, just like if the model had lengthly sitted.
It is an emotional portrait. In all times, grandparents throw an exaggerated hope in their grandchildren. Goya died in the following year without having thought that Mariano shall quickly squander his fortune.
I invite you to view the video shared by Sotheby's :
1828 Ingres and his Friends
2010 SOLD 790 K€ including premium
Classical painter, opposed to romanticism, he sought a perfection inspired by Raphael and became the most important French artist of the generation after David.
This is not so simple. This professional irritated by the critics was also, by his portraits, one of the best witnesses of his time. He was likewise a perfectionist for his drawings and for his paintings, but quite differently. He had to soak up the psychology of his sitters, before a long process of realization which spent half a day.
Thus was formed a sort of gallery of masterpieces, more popular now than at their time, showing the bourgeois and aristocrats at mid length, with a special quality of realism in the faces and clothing.
Why was he drawing? He certainly did not sell these portraits, which did not meet his ambitions and especially displayed his friends. For decades, he used among his other sitters the members of the Marcotte family. A lead pencil drawing from 1828, 31 x 24 cm, starring Charles Marcotte is estimated at 300 K € by Thierry de Maigret auction house, in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) on March 24.
When his skills of painter and portraitist join in the same work, the result is of great strength. The portrait of Bertin by Ingres (1832) symbolizes forever the rise of the bourgeoisie in France in the early nineteenth century.
POST SALE COMMENT
Four drawings by Ingres came from the Marcotte collection. The portrait of Charles Marcotte was sold 790 K € and that of his wife 680 K €. There was also a portrait of a child at 350 K €. These prices include premium.
Estimates, again, were too low. These works deserve their results, and the fact that they have been proposed in the same sale has probably helped to push up the prices.
1829 Brawl in Paradise (on paintings by Edward Hicks)
2008 SOLD 1.3 M$ including premium
On May 27, when I announced this result, I added in my article:
"Christie's has found another painting by the same author and on the same theme, without the leopard. It anticipates $ 4 million in New York.
It is very probable that this one was attracted to the market by the estimate published by Sotheby's for its own before the sale. Wait until September to conclude, with a enhanced curiosity." This lot 11 of the sale of September 25 measures about 75 x 90 cm. The lion does not seem friendly.
My weekly tracking gave me another information a month ago: "Another Peaceable Kingdom of Hicks is at Sotheby's in New York on September 26 ($ 2 million)," 45x59 cm, lot 21. It includes the leopard, but with an least populated surrounding.
I thought to stop at that stage, but now before the two sales Artinfo just announced that Sotheby's sues the buyer of May for lack of payment, and that the accused is preparing a counter-suit concerning the conditions of the sale.
What will happen now in September? Will the buyers be excited or cooled by these unpleasant events?
POST SALE COMMENT
The brawl is over, and the soaring on the value of Hicks is also finished.
The painting presented by Christie's has not been sold. I remind that it was announced in May just after the press release of Sotheby's.
The Sotheby's sale of yesterday was from an estate. Hicks' painting was sold $ 1.3 million including expenses, so at about half its low estimate. In a voluntary sale, it would not have been sold.
If the conflict from the sale of May is not resolved, the result at $ 1.3 million is largely the highest price paid for a work by Hicks. This unpleasant episode shows that you should never be content with arithmetic analysis of results. The rating of Hicks returned to an understandable value, but his false top price still remains in the records of the databases.
End of the story of the first painting, Peaceable Kingdom with the Leopard of Serenity. Sotheby's had managed to sell $ 7 million this artwork, and the court has decided that the defaulting buyer must pay a fine in the amount of the difference to the auction house, i.e. $ 2.673 million.
1830 Sheep in the Australian Country
What can be so remarkable in an oil on canvas showing sheep in the countryside, in Australia?
At first, its date. Arriving in Tasmania (then known as van Diemen's Land) in 1830, the Englishman John Glover was a leading landscape painter. Land owner and pastoralist painter, he gave the image that everyone expects to symbolize Australia, which at that time had not yet been widely explored. The famous crossing of the continent by Burke will be thirty years later (1861).
So on this painting of 74 x 114 cm that Sotheby's proposes as lot 45 of its sale in Melbourne on August 25, we see a land that extends far to the horizon consisting in a few mountains and a bay. It is viewed from the top of a small hill, with a shepherd dressed in the fashion of the time with his hat, his stick and his boots, his dog beside him, watching a countless flock of sheep scattered across the meadows.
The work is located precisely at Moulting Lagoon on the east coast of Tasmania, but the artist, of the generation that preceded Corot, is still seeking to improve the topographic reality. The luminous sky enhances the attractiveness of the painting.
The market for Australian art auctions is growing rapidly, giving rise at this moment in that country to exacerbated passions. I think that the rarity of this painting shall enable it to exceed its estimate of 1.8 MA$.
The only comparable Glover painting that I found in databases is another landscape of Tasmania, equally bright, a little bigger, sold 1.7 MA$ by Christie's in Melbourne on November 27, 2001.
1833 A Romantic Shepherd
Here is my article from the previous sale, slightly improved.
We like to consider William Blake as an isolated genius, too much away from his own time. Yet young painters admired and imitated him, and even met him in his London flat.
The group of young people curiously known under the name of "Ancients of Shoreham" (a village in Kent), led from 1826 to 1835 by Samuel Palmer, embarks on the path opened by Blake : visionary symbolism, come back to old artistic values.
Landscape painter inspired by the mystical dimension of twilight, Palmer made pastoral scenes with expressive effects of light. The artwork for sale, 39 x 52 cm, shows a shepherd asleep in a stylized countryside, his dog at his side.
His technique, chalk, tempera and oil on paper, confirms that Palmer had at that time an ambition to innovate. This young contemporary to Friedrich's romantic art anticipated by decades the quests of Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites. His rare use of tempera dates this work rather at the end of the Shoreham period, from 1833.
1834 Children in Connecticut
2019 sold for $ 1.7m including premium
He will do this job during half a century, moving from one village to another to renew his clientele which he does not hesitate to prospect over quite large distances. In the 1830s he was established in Kent, Connecticut, a town incorporated in 1739 that had less than 2,000 inhabitants in his time and just shy of 3,000 today.
It was in Kent that the quality of his art was recognized in 1924, when several portraits were exhibited at an antique show. He rarely signed his works and the reconstruction of his long journey required a meticulous work, completed in the late 1950s.
Ammi Phillips shares with the itinerant painters of his time a stylized drawing with realistic faces. The proportions of the body are questionable, fortunately hidden in ample clothing, and the age of the children is not easy to identify. The technique is simple because customers need a souvenir more than a piece of art. This austere art is enlivened by nice symbols held in hand by the model.
In the Kent period, Ammi Phillips often uses a saturated red or vermilion without detail, perhaps to hide some loss of interest in clothes. This practice brings a considerable strength to his minimalist compositions which involuntarily anticipate the colorist trends of the twentieth century.
A group of four oils on canvas is considered as a peak of American folk art. An unidentified girl appears on three compositions where she holds in turn a white cat, parsley leaves and a flower. The fourth painting shows a two-year-old boy, named, located in Clermont NY, dated 1834. The two children have identical robes and are accompanied by the same dog lying at their feet.
The portrait with parsley, 83 x 68 cm, is estimated $ 800K for sale by Christie's in New York on January 18, lot 1205.
Another portrait of a little girl in a red dress was sold for $ 810K including premium by Sotheby's on January 21, 2012 over a lower estimate of $ 300K. The composition is similar but the girl is less young and the dress is not rough. A multicolored bird is placed on her finger. On the other hand she holds the parsley, as in the example discussed above.
About to enter his 36th year with #Christie’s, John Hays, our Head of American Furniture and Decorative Arts shares his thoughts on Ammi Phillips, American collectors’ passion for history, Outsider art — and changing consignors’ lives. https://t.co/KeMybkXcQp pic.twitter.com/OyGuEVjWZx— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) January 7, 2019
1841 Flight to the Celestial City
2015 SOLD for £ 2.7M including premium
In 1841, a pair of oils on canvas deals with these two extreme aspects of supernatural life in the exhibition at the Royal Gallery. It also demonstrates the artist's ability to illustrate opposite effects: happiness and horror.
The very dark and sinister Pandemonium displays Satan's capital. This oil on canvas 123 x 184 cm in its original artist's frame was sold for £ 1.65M including premium by Christie's on February 19, 2003 and entered the Louvre in 2006.
Its pendant, The Celestial city and the River of bliss, 123 x 194 cm, is estimated £ 2M for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 8,lot 57.
The city of perpetual happiness floats above the bend of a river in paradise. Object of desire to the dead of the Last Judgment, it is barely visible, like a halo in the clouds. The angel knows the way: it goes straight, carrying a character in its flight.
The art of John Martin was lucrative but his dreamlike themes do appear as a distant precursor of surrealism. Glenn Brown did not miss it. Diverting an Apocalyptic scenery by Martin, he entitled his own artwork The Tragic Conversion of Salvador Dali. The market likes contemporary art. This oil on canvas 222 x 323 cm painted in 1998 was sold for £ 5.2 million including premium by Sotheby's on June 26, 2012.
1843 swiss watercolors by turner
Every summer in the early 1840s, Turner tours Switzerland. He has in his pocket the Hand book for travelers by John Murray providing the best recommendations without omitting the legends. He also has his sketchbook where he sketches the features that interest him in the landscape.
He does not realize his watercolors outdoor but when he comes back from the excursion. The pure air of the Swiss mountains excites him. He states that he is an artist of the atmosphere, which means that the ambience appeals to him more than the topography. He is particularly attracted by the lakes with their reflections and mist.
He expresses the changing colors of twilight when the moon is already visible. A watercolor 27 x 29 cm is for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 28, lot 61 estimated $ 1M, certainly made during his visit at Schwyz in 1843. It shows the Lauerzersee, not forgetting the medieval castle announced as haunted by Murray.
The confrontation of the clear colors offers a pleasure to the viewer with a gradual perception of very fine realistic details centered on the tiny line of the church tower. The achievement of the Swiss watercolors by Turner is unique and inimitable.
After 1844, the artist suspends his mountain trips. He reuses his themes around 1848 in flamboyant colors that make him one of the best precursors of modern art. His replica of the view of the Lauerzersee is owned by the Victoria and Albert Museum. A watercolor 38 x 56 cm of the twilight on the Lungernsee was sold for £ 3.6 million including premium by Sotheby's on July 4, 2007.
1844 The Late Prince Royal
2016 SOLD for $ 1.72M including premium
The duc requires Ingres to paint his portrait. After some hesitation, the artist accepts. Seven sitting sessions are made in 1841. The portrait in three quarter length of the prince standing in military uniform is supplied by the artist on 8 May 1842. This oil on canvas 158 x 122 cm entered in 2005 in the collections of the Musée du Louvre.
The fatal accident of the duc on 13 July 1842 at the age of 32 is a disaster for the Orléans dynasty. His friends desire to maintain his image. The widow returns to Ingres and commissions a portrait in bust length.
On August 2, 1844 Ingres delivers to the duchesse d'Orléans a portrait of the deceased duc in oval format 75 x 61 cm. His beautiful face testifies well to the friendship and admiration that he had inspired to the artist. Preserved up to now in the descendance of the duchesse, this oil on canvas is estimated $ 400K for sale by Christie's in New York on April 13, lot 43.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Christie's.
1845 False Start at Epsom
In early December, in New York, the two major auction groups are managing their sporting art sales, where horse is one of the favorite topics. On December 5, no fewer than 15 lots from the sale of Sotheby's are artworks by the British painter John Frederick Herring Sr.
Let us first see Lot 9, which, at $ 1.2 million, is presented with the highest estimate. This oil on canvas shows the false start of a race named The Oaks, which took place at Epsom on Thursday, 30 May 1845. In a panoramic size of about 80 x 150 cm, we see that some horses have started and others do not. The galloping horses are shown with their four elongated legs up, same as De Dreux painted them in France at the same time. The real movement of the horse was not decoded until much later, in 1872 by the American photographer Muybridge.
Lovers of horse racing, who are the main customers of these specialized sales, shall be excited in the Sotheby's catalog by a list of predictions made before the race.
The location of a prestigious race is for sure an added value for a painting by Herring. Artvalue has recorded a bid of $ 2.25 million obtained by Sotheby's in 1996 for the start of the Epsom Derby in 1835.
Returning to the sale of December 5: Two animated scenes are estimated $ 800 K (Lot 25) and $ 450 K (Lot 133). Some paintings show a single horse in profile, standing, somehow painted to make their "portrait"; at Lot 8, "Caius" is estimated $ 60 K.
POST SALE COMMENT
The results are far below the expectations of Sotheby's. Three of the four lots identified in my article remained unsold.
Lot 133 has been sold $ 340 K costs included, well below its estimate.
1849 Ingres in the Salon of Madame la Comtesse
2013 SOLD 1.93 M$ including premium
The 1848 revolution can not keep her indifferent. Later, she will support the Republicans in opposition to the Second Empire. But the evolution of society will soon make these literary salons outdated and unnecessary.
In 1849, another revolution, this one in technology, is progressing : photography favors the portraits. Only an exceptional master may still claim to do better. For Marie, he will be Ingres.
Aged 69 and busy with other projects, Ingres accepts the commission from Marie and makes a large drawing, 48 x 40 cm, in pencil embellished with watercolor. His line is always realistic and his composition well proportioned. Marie and her daughter Claire aged 19 are posing in the living room.
The line of Ingres is perfect without being spontaneous. By a careful observation, the artist has found the attitudes that best express the complicity between mother and daughter.
The comtesse did not fail to comment with sympathy in her notebooks the intrusion of this exceptional man in her apartment. Ingres is fat and short, passionate, with an especially sharp gaze.
This nice drawing is estimated $ 1.5 million, for sale by Christie's in New York on January 31. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
The catalog was convincing about the exceptional qualities of this drawing, sold $ 1.93 million including premium.
1849 Böcklin in Moonlit
2010 SOLD 140 K£ including premium
The subject is romantic: under a cloudy sky, the ruin of a high building, probably a chapel, is brightly lit by the moon. In the foreground, in the darkness, a solitary horseman goes away.
This simple and effective artwork, dated 1849 when the artist was 22, anticipates the style of the masterpieces of Böcklin with its mysterious theme and its striking light contrast.
Yet its estimate at £ 60K is reasonable. I noticed that buyers generally prefer mature works of the artists to their early works. I confess I do not understand, because an artist who is still in his formative years is searching for his way with more freshness than academism.
I await with curiosity the sale of this painting.
POST SALE COMMENT
I suspected that this romantic painting would exceed its estimate. Done. It was sold £ 140K including premium.
1850 William Dyce on the Fringes of the Pre-Raphaelites
2009 SOLD 200 K£ including premium
For its sale of Victorian and Edwardian art in London on July 15, Sotheby's devotes almost all its press release to a work by William Dyce. Expected at £ 100 K, this small oil on canvas, 36 x 46 cm, however, is only in fifth place in the estimates of the sale.
This work is entitled Meeting of Jacob and Rachel. The young man, in an emotional impulse, takes the young woman by the neck.
On a trip to Rome, the Scottish painter had met the Nazarenes, lovers of ancient paintings. In 1848, he prepares frescoes on the legend of King Arthur as an official order for the Queen Victoria. In the same year the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood is founded in London. Dyce was not a member, but it is taken for sure that he had some influence on Hunt.
Exhibited in 1850 and again in 1857, our Jacob and Rachel had not been located with certainty since these dates. It has just been found in Norway, and authenticated by a residue of label on the reverse as being the actual painting exhibited in 1857.
Sotheby's do not forget to mention that they have sold for 540 K£ inclusive on November 19 2008 a painting showing two women in Welsh traditional costume (and hats!) knitting in a landscape. This colorful work, 35 x 50 cm, is a holiday memory of the artist. Its interest is regional, and it can not reasonably be taken into account in the estimation of our Biblical subject.
POST SALE COMMENT
This painting had everything, except one: the Pre-Raphaelites are not being so sought for the time being (and Dyce was not member of their Brotherhood).
K £ 200 premium included: the price, which almost doubles the lower estimate, must be welcomed as very good.
1851 Serene Evening over San Giorgio Maggiore
2012 SOLD 1 M£ including premium
His art shows the ever-changing sea in the exceptional light of the extreme hours of the day. His naval battles add fire to the sun or the moon, often seen full face.
The oil on canvas, 100 x 122 cm, for sale on November 25 by MacDougall's in London is serene. This view of Venice executed in 1851 shows San Giorgio Maggiore in the distance. A gondola comes to the fore, but the real subject is the warm color in its gradient that leads from the bright blue of the sea up to the pink cloudy sky. This painting is estimated £ 950K.
Few painters have given such an emotional density to landscapes. Turner had admired the work of his very young colleague when they met in Rome in 1842. Precursor of the Impressionists, Aivazovsky worked in the studio from pencil sketches and composed his colors from memory.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result, £ 1M including premium, is in the region of the lower estimate.
1851-1853 frederic church looking for a wild paradise
He seeks the wilderness as a direct and unstained work made by the original creator. He finds a place of paradise in 1844 in Mount Desert, the large mountainous island off the coast of Maine.
At that time, Cole had just agreed to teach a student. Frederic Edwin Church did not accompany him to Mount Desert but watched the sketches made by the master. After the untimely death of Cole in 1848, Church made this trip himself for the first time in 1850.
At that time the artists do not paint outdoors but in the workshop by using their travel sketchbooks. Compared to Cole, Church offers a more realistic view of the landscape. His style was opening the way to the explorers painters of the Wild West such as Bierstadt and Moran.
On May 21 in New York, Christie's sells a beautifully wild landscape of Mount Desert by Church, lot 18 estimated $ 5M. This oil on canvas 44 x 64 cm was painted between 1851 and 1853, early in Church's career before his trips to the Andes in search of an even more breathtaking wilderness.
1854 Landscape Painting in New England
2017 SOLD for $ 1.8M including premium
Frederic Edwin Church was the only student to Thomas Cole in Catskill in the upper state of New York. He created paintings inspired from sketches made by Cole in Mount Desert. After the untimely death of the master in 1848 he visited in his own right that stunning island of Maine in which Cole desired to see the paradise on Earth.
Church now uses to make long trips during summer and to spend winter in painting landscapes in his studio for his customers. He soon lost the mystical inspiration of Cole to be more appealed by the structure of the landscape.
Humboldt had discussed the special morphology of the Andean mountains considered as a challenge for the artists. Church travels in South America for the first time in 1853. In Quito, he stays in a house where Humboldt had lived.
Influenced by the theories of the geographer, Church is even better perceiving the charm of the Appalachian Mountains, spectacular without reaching the extravagance of the Cordillera.
The work for sale is an ideal landscape that may be located in Maine or Vermont or even a mingling of both, oil on canvas 76 x 107 cm painted in 1854. In the quiet light of a late afternoon, nature is hardly disturbed by a boat in obscurity and a few cows on the lakeshore.
1854 Waldmüller selected by Dorotheum
2009 SOLD 490 K€ including premium
Here is a small painting, 55 x 44 cm, showing a genre scene in a country house. Three young girls are busy decorating the hat of a conscript. Their clothes are beautifully colored and lighted by the sun.
This work is dated 1854 and signed by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, the most important Austrian painter of his time. The nice and careful drawing makes us classify it properly in the ancient art (before 1860) but it is typical of such charming and intimate scenes from the mid-nineteenth century that took as themes the religious celebrations and, as here, the events of military life. The preparation of the conscript for leaving home was a kind of major passage rite in a young man's life.
This work will be sold in October by Dorotheum, which operates mainly in Vienna. It is estimated 300 K €.
Dorotheum often sells important works by Waldmüller. On 30 November 2005, a scene of pilgrimage reached € 1.1 million hammer price (1.32 M € premium included).
POST SALE COMMENT
K € 490 including premium. It is a very good price, which rewards a charming work. Waldmüller sells well at Dorotheum in Vienna. Congratulations to the auction house.
1855 An Austrian in the Australian Bush
The already fabulous reputation of the Australian gold fields attracts all kinds of pioneers. In 1852, aged 41, the Austrian painter Eugene von Guerard also tries his luck. Fortunately he quickly realizes that his brushes are more effective than his shovel.
A former student of Düsseldorf Academy, he was attracted to the romantic landscape and admired Fridrich. In Australia, this communion with nature allows him to interpret humble corners of the countryside for a clientele of wealthy farmers.
Von Guerard is not the first Australian landscape painter. I previously discussed in this column a pastoralist painting made in Tasmania circa 1830 by John Glover. However, the realism of the early works of Von Guerard's Australiancareer is meticulous and anticipate similar trends by the Russian landscapers, including Klodt.
The painting for sale by Bonhams in Sydney on June 26 is dated 1855 and located in the Yarra Valley (ie upstream ofMelbourne). Being obviously a commissioned work, it identifies the name of the farmer who operated this field.
This landscape is estimated AUD 900K. Here is the link to the press release.
Here is the size, 60 x 91 cm, and the link to the catalogue.
1857 The Frozen Holland of Andreas Schelfhout
2010 SOLD 480 K€ including premium
Andreas Schelfhout studied classical painters including Hobbema and Ruisdael, and influenced early modern artists such as Jongkind.
This good landscape painter from a transition era specialized in winter scenes. He very well showed the light of the extreme cold. His scenes are populated with skaters, sleighs and sleds that are too remote to be the main subject but participate actively in the atmosphere.
He painted imaginary landscapes in his studio, like the Romantics, and is one of the most interesting among the immediate predecessors of modern art.
A painting dated 1857 to be sold on December 13 by Sotheby's in Amsterdam is both typical and outstanding. All the symbols of the Holland of Schelfhout are there: steeples, windmills, skaters, a horse-drawn sleigh. The panoramic composition is very airy and perfectly balanced, and the artwork is large for this artist: 96 x 145 cm.
It is estimated € 280K, and is shown on the release shared by Artdaily.
POST SALE COMMENT
This lovely painting was worth better than its lower estimate. It was sold € 480K including premium.
1858 Russian Landscapes by Baron Klodt
2008 SOLD for $ 1.3M including premium by Heritage
2010 SOLD 770 K£ including premium
In 1858, the young artist Mikhail Konstantinovich Klodt is already convinced that nothing is more beautiful than Russian nature and painting.
He sets his easel in humble corners of the country, and seeks to give the most realistic image, with a highly accurate perspective, light and color. His paintings have a photographic precision.
He then made an oil on canvas, 106 x 154 cm, designed to be perfect enough to support his theories. It is a small farm near a river in Livonia, with a closed meadow and some cattle.
On June 4, 2008, Heritage sold this painting in Dallas, $ 1.3 million including premium. It is illustrated in the press release shared after that sale. It is now coming on June 8 at Christie's in London, with an estimated £ 700 K (some details on the provenance provide the certainty that it is the same piece).
Klodt promoted realism when the other side of Europe discovered the modern art of Corot and Courbet. He was influential on Russian art and is considered as a precursor of the Wanderers (Peredvizhniks), this society of landscape painters founded in 1870.
POST SALE COMMENT
This painting has remained around the low estimate: it was sold 770 K £ including premium. The quiet farm and river landscape by Klodt does not reach the price of the best works of the Wanderers, including Shishkin and Kuindzhi.
1858 Aivazovsky between Sun and War
2011 Sold 7.6 M SEK before fees
This Armenian born in Crimea had been interested in war scenes, even before his homeland was a target for Franco-English ambitions. His vision combining the fires of the boats and of the sky generated works in very warm colors. He was perhaps the only painter of the mid-nineteenth whose skill can be compared with those of Turner and Delacroix.
An oil on canvas painted in 1858, 121 x 202 cm, reminds a naval episode of the Crimean war, the Battle of Bomarsund, which took place in the Baltic Sea (1854). It is illustrated on the release shared by Hitta Auktion.
Its sale, organized by Uppsala Auktionskammare, will be held on June 14 not so far from the location of the battle, in Uppsala. The lower estimate, SEK 5M (€ 556K), seems conservative.
POST SALE COMMENT
Great success beyond the estimate for this interesting painting, sold SEK 7.6 million before fees.
1850s the privacy of corot
Circa 1850, inspired by the Italian Renaissance, he gives up the historical themes to make anonymous portraits that will constitute his secret garden: he shows them sparingly and it was not until many years after his death that art critics shall admit that they are his most outstanding work.
His young peasant women in pretty blouses of Italian style are often a reading girl who gives up that occupation to look toward the viewer. Their dreamy attitude opposes the jovial behavior exhibited by the artist in his own life, perhaps explaining the underlying reason why he kept these images in his own intimacy. Nevertheless, he appears as a precursor of Bouguereau.
On October 27 in New York, Christie's sells a Liseuse interrompant sa lecture painted in the 1850s. This oil on canvas 56 x 46 cm is estimated $ 1.2M, lot 9.
1859-1862 The Frescoes of the Capitol
2012 SOLD 540 K$ including premium
Brumidi's specialty was very rare in his time: he was a painter of frescoes. After working in Italy, he was forced into exile in the United States for political reasons.
In 1855, the U.S. government considered that the Capitol dome in Washington DC was no longer worthy of their prestige and of their ambitions. When the reconstruction project developed, it was a perfect opportunity for Brumidi tooffer his services.
In 1862 he received the commission of the decoration of the inner ceiling of the dome, on the theme of the Apotheosis of President Washington. Between 1859 and 1862, he had executed an oil on canvas modello 90 cm in diameter.
This round painting was to be viewed from all sides, and Brumidi conceived to surround the central figure of the deified President by two circles of allegories. The result pleased him, and the final work, completed in 1865 on a scaffold 55 meters high, looks very similar to this sketch.
The modello is estimated $ 250K, for sale by Skinner in Boston on March 4. Here is the link to the catalog. Because of his activity as a muralist, Brumidi's works are extremely rare on the art market.
The success of the Apotheosis of Washington was considerable, and Brumidi continued his career by covering with historical and allegorical paintings the corridors of the Capitol. Millions of tourists each year see his works and ignore his name.
POST SALE COMMENT
Due to the rarity of such an artwork, the price was difficult to predict. Sold $ 475K before fees, 540K including premium, this painting far exceeded its estimate.