Art before 1500
2009 SOLD 68 K€ including premium
The artist of the antiquity had some preferred subjects. The animal, realistic or fantastic, was represented in a variety of materials. In bronze, it is often used to decorate utensils or ornaments for domestic or liturgical practice.
Thus, the bronze lion that Piasa offers for sale in Paris on May 27 seems to come from the depths of time. It is a container, of a variety known as aquamanile, used for washing hands. Very popular in Islamic art 1,000 years ago, it reached the medieval West, and this copy was made in Lower Saxony in the late thirteenth century.
The filling is done by opening the top of the skull by a hinged lid with a ring. The spout is a cylinder in the wide open mouth. A handle links the head and the tail. The piece measures 27 cm long by 26 cm high, but it is high on legs: the useful part is a cylinder about 7 cm in diameter, and its capacity is approaching the half-liter (according to my calculations!) .
This patinated bronze in very good condition is estimated 60 K €.
POST SALE COMMENT
At 68 K € premium included, the aquamanile has been sold around the low estimate. It is a good point for the auction house, because the estimation of rare objects is always difficult to build.
The Virgin of the Bridgettines
2013 SOLD 2.55 M£ including premium
Science does not locate the origins of objects, but this piece was most likely made somewhere between Picardy and Wallonia. Attitudes are Romanesque following the Byzantine tradition, with some more specific characteristics such as the pleasant gesture of the blessing child.
It is thus a contemporary of the wonderful Provençal ivory on the same theme, sold for € 6.3 million including premium by Christie's on November 16, 2011, where the smooth movement of the child to the mother clearly anticipates the Renaissance.
The statuette for sale by Sotheby's belonged to the nuns of a Bridgettine community in their first monastery in Middlesex and they brought it in their wanderings of several centuries to escape war and persecution. It then entered the prestigious collection of the Alton Towers, but went out of sight after a final exhibition in 1873.
A Bridgettine tradition documented in 1723 assigns a miraculous origin to a statuette that is certainly this one. One evening at supper time, the nuns heard the doorbell. Upon opening the door, they found the statuette. The reasons and conditions of its arrival were never identified.
Their monastery had been inaugurated in 1415, and the date of the miracle was not recorded. The radiocarbon dating now confirms its much earlier making as suggested by its style.
POST SALE COMMENT
Ivory statuettes of this style are rare on the art market. This one was sold for £ 2.55M including premium.
1310-1330 Scenes from the Death of the Virgin
2013 SOLD 2.8 M£ including premium
Their effort tends towards a realism that captures the attention of devotees. These images, even when the subject is dramatic, are not sad. The period from the reign of Louis IX until the beginning of the Hundred Years War is particularly creative, kindness is often present and humor is never far away.
Patrons also desire to own some pieces of devotion for their private liturgy. The portable triptych is the ideal form. It is closed when the object is not exhibited, ensuring an effective protection of the image.
The triptych of paintings is common. The ivory version is rarer. Its dimensions were necessarily small, and the carvers had to deploy a skill of miniaturist to match the beauty of the large models of the cathedrals.
A superb ivory is estimated £ 2.5 million, for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 2. It is constituted with nine images covering the history of the Death of the Virgin from the Annunciation by the angel to the Coronation.
The many characters are shown in flexible and varied attitudes, with full rounded heads in high relief. Angels and musicians give cheer to this event more solemn than tragic.
This piece 27 cm high was polychrome and retains significant traces of gilding. Here is the link to the catalog. It was made before 1330, perhaps as early as 1310, probably in Paris.
POST SALE COMMENT
This rare ivory was sold for £ 2.8M including premium, in the region of its lower estimate.
1334 An Annunciation in the Trecento
2012 SOLD 4.1 M$ including premium
The painting on panel in tempera on gold background, 29 x 21 cm, for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 26 was the right part of a diptych on the theme of the Annunciation.
It demonstrates a remarkable artist's intention to link the human and the wonderful, providing a subtle psychological dimension to the attitude of the Virgin Mary.
She is here a very young woman, dressed in a lavishly decorated cloak, pushed to the right by the breath of the invisible angel (the character of the lost left part of the diptych). She is in the process of deciding with a concern which does not extend to anxiety whether to accept or not what she is just being told.
The artwork is attributed by recent but strong considerations to one of the top masters of Siena, Simone Martini, circa 1334 and certainly before his move to Avignon which took place around 1340.
In addition to the iconographic quality, the consideration that the back of the panel was once silver coated is in line with a firm attribution to Simone, who could have been helped by the Lorenzetti brothers for the use of precious metals.
We do not have often at auction a major piece from a contemporary of Petrarch, but the estimate, $ 3M, remains cautious. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
This small painting is a remarkable witness of the questions posed by Christian art at the time of the successors of Giotto. It was sold $ 4.1 million including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's :
1330s - 1360s Private Devotion in Florence
2016 SOLD for $ 3.9M including premium
The central panel is the most ancient. Painted in the 1330s by Bernardo Daddi, it shows the Enthroned Madonna and Child.
Bernardo had worked with Giotto and is his best follower in Florence. These fresco masters also had clients for private devotion or portable pieces and knew to transcribe their grand art into miniature formats. In this charming scene, Bernardo uses a variety of soft colors. The lines are deliberately strengthened to provide a three-dimensional illusion.
The top and side pictures and the predellas were added about 30 years later and are attributed to the Misericordia Master who was the leading painter in Florence after the plague of 1348 in which Bernardo died. His name was not found.
These additional panels are shaped to match the gesso frame that has certainly been assembled at the same time for an unknown customer who can perhaps be identified by the coats of arms in the predellas.
The altar is now dominated by God the Father. On each side in symmetry, a pair of angels are ascending to God while trying to contemplate Him. The most daring, forward, overcomes the glare of light by using a dark glass. The other, still behind, has not found the solution and masks his eyes with his hand. This rare theme had previously adorned the pinnacle of a monumental altar by Giotto.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Christie's.
1370-1380 the head of a french queen
2014 sold for € 1.15M including premium
The specialized sculptors are the tombiers. During the reign of Charles V the Wise, these monuments are commissioned to two competing artists : André Beauneveu and Jean de Liège.
The identification of the represented person does not allow a precise dating. On one hand, some monuments have been completed or redone long after the death. As an example the monument of Marie de France who died in her youth in 1341 was completed by an assistant to Jean de Liège after the death of the artist which occurred in 1381. Conversely, the recumbent statue of Charles V was commissioned in his lifetime to Beauneveu as early as 1364.
The double corpse monument of Charles V, died in 1380, and of his wife Jeanne de Bourbon, died in 1378, was one of the most opulent in the royal funerary basilica of Saint-Denis. During the exhumation of the kings of France in 1793, the statue of the king was saved but the queen's was dismantled, certainly to facilitate a commercial use of the fragments.
On December 11 in Paris, PIASA sells a marble head of a woman from a gisant, lot 26, estimated between € 500K and 1M.
The idealized lines of the face do not allow an identification but their style enables the attribution to Jean de Liège or his workshop. The high forehead and the braided hairstyle are in the fashion iof the 1370s and the relatively large scale is the same as for the Beauneveu statue of the king. All these elements converge to consider that this fragment 23 x 21 x 19 cm recently rediscovered is the head of the gisant de corps of Queen Jeanne in Saint-Denis.
The press release from the auction house is linking to an important dossier in French and English by the specialist Laurence Fligny.
1390 The Passion on Linen Fabric
2012 SOLD 1.1 M£ including premium
Christian art had a great development in the Trecento. The faithful are overwhelmed by the frescoes that adorn the most prestigious places of worship. Some use of that time is also to transport devotional images to accompany theowner or to illustrate the processions. Portable triptychs are fashionable.
Another technique appears at the end of this period in competition with the woven images of banners and tapestries.New for Europe, it will have the greatest future in the history of art: the painting on canvas.
From a single series of scenes of the Passion, four paintings on linen fabrics executed around 1390, probably in Florence, still remain together.
They are in square format, between 90 x 90 and 100 x 100 cm, which is close to procession artworks. The identification of their role remains mysterious, because the pictorial matter is thick and does not invite to fold or roll the canvases for frequent travel, an observation that correlates with their remarkable state of preservation. They would rather have been designed to replace a fresco.
These works are lavish, with vibrant colors in tempera of gold and lapis lazuli blue, and silver leaf that has degraded.The exaggerated expression of many characters, however, is more oriented towards the devotion of the people than tothe aristocracy.
The experts gave the name of the fresco maker Niccolo di Pietro Gerini as the most likely author or foreman of this series. If this is the case, why this master did choose to work on fabric? The hypothesis of a modello is not proposed,perhaps because the materials used are too precious.
The set is sold, of course as a single lot, at Sotheby's in London on December 5. It is estimated £ 800K. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good result, £ 1.1 million including premium, for this atypical lot of considerable interest for the understanding of the art of the Trecento.
1400 The Portable Triptych, an Object of Devotion from Ancient Ages
2008 SOLD 1.9 M£ including premium
The press release of Sotheby's, published on May 2, teaches us that this artwork had passed for the first time at auction in 1971. It was then bought by the collector of which estate the ten most important lots come to be sold in London on July 9.
The estimate is very open: 300 to 500 K£, which is a sign that this lot can go up higher. Anyway, being in a succession, one can take for sure that it will leave at its right price.
This object of devotion, low-sized (42x21 cm for the central panel), in the shape of a Gothic chapel, was designed to be portable. Dated circa 1400, it is an interesting witness of obsolete practices of private devotion. Let us add on the historical level that Taddeo worked in Siena and followed the tradition of the Lorenzettis who preceded him of half a century in that city.
It appears to me of a good practice to limit research of anteriority, when I can, to the auction house where I located a lot. It is thus at Sotheby's that I tracked for you Italian portable triptychs dated 1400 or former. The prices below include the fees.
Made in Padova about 1335, a triptych of altar, larger but still identified as portable, with very charged imaging, sold 740 K$ in New York on January 22, 2004.
Created about 1340, a Florentine triptych, of more sober form, was sold 90 K£ in London on July 10, 2003, almost the same price as a reliquary triptych from Umbria, in London also, on July 12, 2001.
Another Florentine piece, attributed to Bicci di Lorenzo, got 170 K£ in London on July 4, 2007.
Ours is the only one among all above which is signed, and this signature is that of a renowned Master. It is an undeniable asset.
POST SALE COMMENT
In this very successful sale for which I included six lots in my previews and four of them in my analyses, there is a result which is particularly gratifying:
£ 1.9 million including fees for a triptych of the late 14th or early 15th century, it is more than a success. It is the setting of the primitive painting at its right place, that we had a tendency to devalue compared with the star artists of later centuries.
1416 Mourners of the Tomb of the Duc de Berry
2016 SOLD for € 5M by Christie's
The new king also wants to prepare for the future. He requires to simultaneously prepare his own monument and his gisant (recumbent) in white marble which are the masterpieces of André Beauneveu.
The descendants of St. Louis view this new funerary art installed in grand chapels as a way to maintain respect and even devotion from the people. The dukes of Burgundy and of Berry, sons of Charles V, amplify that tradition.
Philippe de Bourgogne approves in 1381 the drawing for his own monument. The recumbent figure is placed on a high base flanked by arches sheltering a procession of 41 pleurants (mourners) 40 cm high. There is no emergency. Most of these statuettes will be realized by Claus de Werwe, nephew of Claus Sluter, between 1406 and 1410. The duke had died in 1404.
Jean de Berry certainly wanted to imitate his brother because his monument has a very similar design. He defines his chapel at Bourges in 1391 from the model of the Sainte-Chapelle of St. Louis. At the death of the duke in 1416, Jean de Cambrai had made the recumbent and the canopy and started the arches. He had also completed five surface-mounted statuettes of mourners in marble from the 40 that had been scheduled.
Two of the mourners in marble remained in private hands. They were sold together for € 5M by Christie's on June 15, 2016, lot 24.
The male heirs of Jean de Berry predeceased him and a tribute to the late duke was no longer appealing. The payment of the artists is suspended and the work is stopped. The 35 other mourners will be realized circa 1450 in alabaster, cheaper than the marble. The style has changed and the attitudes are more expressive. Two of these statuettes, from the same collection as the two marbles discussed above, were sold together for € 4M by Christie's on November 8, 2013.
1425-1430 Diptych Panel by Fra Angelico
2022 SOLD for $ 4.7M by Christie's
A group of similar complexity featuring Saint Dominic witnessing the stigmatisation of Saint Francis surfaced in 2013 in a private sale at Sotheby's. Both characters with full gilt halos are raising their heads below the vision of a red Christ with stretched arms.
Made in the same technique on a 15.9 x 9.5 cm panel, it is considered as forming a diptych with the Detroit painting. Due to their small size, they were certainly made for the use of a private devotion.
It is estimated $ 4M for sale by Christie's on June 9, 2022, lot 8. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
Saint Francis is a frequent figure in the art of that Dominican friar who was a humble man preoccupied with humanity and piety.
1435 Monks and Saints of the New Thebaid
2012 SOLD 550 K€ including premium
On October 27 in Marseille, Damien Leclere sells a painting with tempera on wood panel whose antiquity is not in doubt, one of those examples that make the study of ancient works the most exciting theme of the artistic expertise.
It is a fragment, 28 x 38 cm, showing the buildings of a monastery animated by a few groups of characters. Studied a few years ago by Michel Laclotte, former director of the Musée du Louvre, this work is the bottom center of a set ofestimated total size 46 x 92 cm, whose four corners were made up of scenes from the life of Church Fathers.
The panel was split into probably six pieces more than two centuries ago. The four scenes of saints, belonging to four different museums, had previously been a puzzle to researchers who wanted to consider them as the elements of a predella but did not understand why the sky did not appear. The middle top fragment, probably without character, cannot be retrieved.
As a whole, this image looks like the page of an illuminated book. The central part shows a special care of the artistfor the disposition of the space, but the proportions of small monks and big saints reveal an anecdotal goal without anintention of realism.
For two centuries, the four hagiographic scenes are assumed having been made around 1435 by Fra Angelico. It is difficult to definitely state about the autographic quality of the whole artwork. The Museum of Philadelphia, owner ofone of the fragments, is describing it as made by a follower of Fra Angelico and does not exhibit it.
Bibliography (not illustrated): The Church and Desert Fathers in Early Renaissance Florence, pages 221-234: Further Thoughts on a "New" Thebaid, by Anne Leader, online on academia.edu.
The image of the fragment for sale is included in the article shared by Le Figaro.
The estimate is also published. It is very open, which is normal for such a unique piece: € 200K to 400K.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result, 445K € before fees, 550K including premium, is good, especially when considering that this artwork is a fragment.
I invite you to play the video prepared by the auctioneer along with the specialist René Millet on DailyMotion :
1470 A Young Man from the Quattrocento
2012 SOLD 1.4 M$ including premium
It is surprising to be suddenly face to face with a young man of the Quattrocento. He looks at you kindly, with some pride, unlike many of his contemporaries who rather exhibited their profile.
On a sheet pretty large in its class, 36 x 23 cm, this portrait is almost life-size. The cap and the jacket with strictcollar are in the fashion of Florence. The technique is clever: the paper was prepared with a sfumato of black chalk, and the sharp line in brown ink shows a careful research of realism.
Comparing with paintings from the same period, the experts consider a probable attribution to Piero del Pollaiolo, circa 1470 (the spelling Pollaiuolo, most common, is not the one used by Wikipedia in Italian, but I learned by the way that this nickname means "son of the chicken seller").
This drawing is estimated $ 300K, for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 25. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
This rare and beautiful drawing could not stay at its estimate, and the fact that its attribution is not fully demonstrated could not be a handicap for such a piece. It was sold $ 1.4M including premium.
1475 A ST. Jerome from the Ancient Times
It is a painted terracotta 72 cm high. Thermoluminescence tests show that it has been fired several centuries ago, but the base is later.
It shows Saint Jerome at mid-length. The very realistic attitude shows the saint gazing to the heavens, and does not give him the intelligent look normally earned by one of the top Doctors of the Church. The beard is spectacular.
We are in the mid Italian Renaissance, probably in Padua circa 1475, some twenty years after Donatello had left the city. Two names stand out about that time, Andrea Riccio and Giovanni de Fondulis, and our statue is regarded as a work of the latter.
Donatello's shadow is a definite asset in the auctions. On 24 January 2008 at Sotheby's in New York, a superb gilt terracotta of the master showing the Madonna and Child sold $ 5.6 million including expenses. She was also represented at mid-length.
Our Saint Jerome is to sell at the same auction house on January 30, an estimated 800 K $.
1480 The Tragic Devotion of Hugo van der Goes
2021 SOLD for $ 3.35M including premium
In full glory, he leaves the city in 1477 to become a lay brother in Rood Klooster, a hermitage in the middle of the forest. This monastery follows the very austere Augustinian rule. However, great freedom is granted to the artist, who continues his work, takes orders and meets eminent visitors, arousing the disapproval of the other brothers.
This retiring is probably already linked to his mental health. Depressed and overexcited, Hugo is aware that he will not equal van Eyck. Yet his influence is important. His images will serve as models for Alexandre and Simon Bening, the best Flemish illuminators. His distress will influence the artistic vocation of van Gogh.
Hugo painted around 1480 two Lamentations in an extremely tragic style. The tortured corpse is deposited by three men in the presence of the Madonna and the mourning women. The most important version is a single piece. It is lost except for a fragment, but known from many copies.
The other version is a diptych. Each 53 x 38 cm wing was painted in distemper on a finely woven Flemish linen. The right view, featuring the holy women, is kept at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. The left view, showing the Descent from the Cross, is estimated $ 3M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 28, lot 7. One of the men is the portrait of a patron of van Eyck.
The distemper, which consists of depositing the pigments on the canvas through a glue, is a variant of the tempera. It brings a high pictorial sharpness but does not resist the cold and humid atmosphere of Flanders. The conservation of the two elements suggests that this diptych was early sent to Italy. Hugo also worked for Florence through Portinari who represented the Medici in Bruges. Distemper painting was also practiced by Mantegna and Bellini.
1485-1494 Virgin nursing Child by Hans memling
Born in region of Frankfurt, Hans Memling moved to Bruges about 1465. The intellectual Europe was then a reality, as demonstrated by the fabulous development of illuminated manuscripts and of printed books. It was the same for the Europe of art, and Memling was at the crossroads of all the influences of his time.
On January 25 in New York, Christie's sells a tondo on panel 17 cm in diameter on the theme of the Virgin Marynursing the Christ Child.
Executed between 1485 and 1494, this oil on a gilded background seems archaic. The plain background should notmake us regret the innovations that made the glory of Memling, including carefully detailed landscapes and interiors.
Indeed, this composition is rather to be regarded as a tribute by a great master to his predecessors, particularly to the Master of Flémalle whom Memling had been unable to meet because he worked half a century before him. Through theMaster of Flémalle, the gentleness and serenity of the Virgin refers to the piety of the Byzantine icons.
The work is not a simple copy. Modern techniques have revealed the detailed preparation by the artist of the expression of the Child. Busy sucking, he has a superb gaze, well alive but not directed.
It is estimated $ 6M.
It is also shared from Christie's catalogue on Wikimedia (dated 1487-1490).
> 1487 thoughtful madonnas by botticelli
2017 sold for € 630K including premium
Since the vision of Beatrice by Dante, a pretty woman who dies prematurely is a symbol of perfection because her beauty is inaccessible and unalterable. At the court of the Medici, Simonetta got such a posthumous role : she died in 1476 at 22 and her memory continued to enchant the artists.
The perfect face of the young woman with long blond hair is thoughtful or sad. When Botticelli uses that figure on a nude such as The Birth of Venus around 1485, there is no vulgarity : her modest attitude is inspired by the ancient sculpture and by its Florentine reinterpretation.
The same face also personalizes Mary as in the Madonna of the Pomegranate, a 143 cm tondo in tempera on panel painted circa 1487. The Virgin and Child are surrounded by angels but mystical symbols are virtually nonexistent in this work where the characters are dressed in the fashion of the court of Florence.
Appreciated in Florence until the cultural revolution of Savonarola, Sandro's religious works are copied for use of private devotion on rectangular panels by the master assisted by his workshop. A Madonna of the Pomegranate enhanced with some gold on arched panel 90 x 59 cm is estimated € 500K for sale on November 29 by Audap et Mirabaud in Paris, Hôtel Drouot, lot 31.
The attitudes of the Madonna and Child are very similar to the tondo model. The naked child looks up in communion with the sad thoughts of his mother preoccupied by the presentiment of the Passion symbolized by the red fruit. The other characters have disappeared, replaced by a pleasant landscape through a window.
□ Une œuvre inédite de #Botticelli bientôt aux enchères □— Interencheres (@interencheres) November 22, 2017
Stéphane Pinta, expert au cabinet Turquin, nous présente rapidement ce chef-d'oeuvre avant sa mise en vente par @AudapMirabaud !
➡ Pour en savoir plus : https://t.co/SJUdxJgpmC pic.twitter.com/8F2anL654f
1490s the workshop of memling
2016 sold for € 1.2m including premium
The similarity of this artwork is striking with the left wing of the triptych in smaller scale made by Memling in 1479 for Jan Floreins. The Virgin is almost identical even in the folds of her dress. The other characters are arranged with slight differences and the background landscape is not the same.
The rediscovered painting can not be regarded as a mere copy. The attention to detail is extreme, and at some places it results from successive trials. The artist had not however all the experience of the master and this work is obviously not autograph. The painting technique is contemporary of Memling.
The painting was analyzed by infrared reflectography and X rays. It had been prepared by underdrawings in chalk that further enhance the comparison with Memling and have certainly been made from model drawings available in his workshop. Memling used this sketching technique since his apprenticeship with Rogier van der Weyden.
This interesting example of the Flemish Renaissance in very good condition is estimated € 1.2M for sale on April 19 in Vienna by Dorotheum, lot 12.
The auction house is questioning the reason why a work performed with such care is not autograph. Two explanations are possible: a high work load in this workshop very busy at the end of Memling's career or the achievement of an order still pending at the master's death in 1494.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Dorotheum: