Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), David and Bathsheba. Oil on limewood panel, 115 x 79.3 cm

Konrad Bernheimer of Bernheimer-Colnaghi is pleased to announce the sale of one of the masterpieces on his stand at TEFAF Maastricht (12 to 21 March 2010).   The painting of David and Bathsheba by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), which had an asking price of € 5.3 million, was sold to a European private collector.  A good way to start the 250th anniversary year!

The meeting of David and Bathsheba was a popular subject in Renaissance Germany and one that was treated by Lucas Cranach and his sons on a number of occasions and in a variety of media.  Dated 1534, the painting is an important and unusually grand treatment of the theme by the artist.  It is a superb example of the refined and meticulous technique for which Cranach was justly famous, evident here in the richness of the costumes and the elaborate landscape setting

The story comes from the Book of Samuel and tells how King David seduced Bathsheba, wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of David’s generals.  Uriah refused to leave his troops, who were besieging Rabbah, in order to return to his wife and, realising that their adultery was bound to be exposed as a result of the pregnancy, David decided to get rid of her husband, sending him into certain death in battle.  David and Bathsheba married, but God punished David through the death of his son and he was filled with remorse. Despite David’s clearly immoral behaviour, the story came to be regarded by the mediaeval church as a typological pre-figuration of the union of Christ (David) and the Church (Bathsheba).

Business on the stand has been brisk and other sales include Bacchus and Venus by Franz Christoph Janneck (1703-1761), one of the most widely admired representatives of the Austrian Rococo School (asking price €395,000); an intimate interior genre scene by Marguerite Gérard (1761-1837) entitled Le Petit Messager (asking price €700,000); a recent discovery, The Toilet of Venus by Nicolas Colombel (1644-1717), one of the last great Poussinists of the 17th century (asking price €550,000); and a portrait of Miss Caroline Hopwood by George Henry Harlow (1787-1819), who was apprenticed to Sir Thomas Lawrence, (asking price €110,000).  Katrin Bellinger at Colnaghi has sold a signed and dated watercolour and gouache Study of a Knight and Suit of Armour by Adolph von Menzel (1815-1905), one of the most prominent German artists of the 19th century (asking price €85,000)