Jan Gossaert, Virgin and child. Ca. 1530. Oil on panel. 44,5x34 cm. CHF 1,8/ 2,2 Mio. 

ZURICH.- On the occasion of its spring auctions of paintings by Old Masters from 24-29 March 2014, Koller Auctions will be presenting the painting «Virgin and Child» by Jan Gossaert (1478-1532). This painting is one of the last works by the Dutch Renaissance Master that is held in a private collection, and is estimated at CHF 1.8-2.2 million. The Books and Autographs auction on 29 March impresses with significant manuscripts by René Descartes and Robert Walser as well as with Peytier's key work on the Greek Revolution. The highlights of the Old Master Prints and Drawings are works by Jan Brueghel and Albrecht Dürer. 

Jan Gossaert, also known as Mabuse after his birthplace Mabeuge (in present-day France), is one of the most important Renaissance painters north of the Alps. His oeuvre comprises ca. 60 paintings, 58 of which are in renowned museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery in London, the Portrait Gallery of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Museo del Prado in Madrid, and the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Two privately-owned paintings are on loan to museums, e.g. „Adam and Eve“ (1520) which belongs to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. and is on permanent display at the National Gallery in London. There are only three paintings by Mabuse that are not in museums. The painting „Virgin and Child“ from an English private collection will be offered for sale at Koller Auctions on 28 March 2014. 

On loan at important exhibitions

Since the mid-1950s, „Virgin and Child“ has been part of the private collection of Dr. Alfred Hausamann in Zurich and was on loan to the Kunsthaus Zurich from 1960 to 2001. The painting was also displayed in two exhibitions, namely in 1955 in Schaffhausen as part of the exhibition "Meisterwerke flamischer Malerei“ and in 1965 in Rotterdam and Bruges in the exhibition „Jan Gossaert genaamd Mabuse“. On the occasion of the preparations for the catalogue raisonné and the extensive exhibition of the Flemish Master in the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 2010, the original painting was thoroughly examined by the curator Dr. Maryan W. Ainsworth and declared to be a work by the artist himself. 

In excellent condition

The panel painted in oil on oakwood was cleaned recently and is in excellent condition. The composition depicts the Mother of God in front of a late-Gothic throne of partially filigree, partially solid stone. The Infant Jesus is seated on green velvet in front of the Virgin Mary. While Mary is looking downwards, the Infant Jesus engages with the viewer by making direct eye contact. In terms of both style and composition, the painting has strong parallels with the depiction of Mary with the Infant Jesus (dated 1531) in the Cleveland Museum, Ohio. On this basis, Dr. Maryan W. Ainsworth suggests that the painting was executed around 1530. Due to the Christ Child‘s „button eyes“, Prof. Dr. Sander, curator of the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, compares the painting to be auctioned with the style of Gossaert‘s „Danae“ (dated 1527) , which is exhibited in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, and therefore considers a slightly earlier date, i.e. around the mid-1520s. Further comparable compositions depicting the „Virgin with Child“ can be found in the National Gallery in London, the Portrait Gallery of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and in the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao.

Further highlights of the Old Masters‘ auction

Among the highlights of the Old Masters‘ auction on 24 March 2014 is the painting „A Hermit Praying“ (ca. 1670) by Gerrit Dou. This painting was held in a Swiss private collection for an extensive period of time and the original has only recently been examined by the leading expert Dr. Ronni Baer who declared it to be a work by the Master himself. Up to then, the expert was only familiar with the painting as a black and white photograph. The painting has now been added as an original by Gerrit Dou to the archives in the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) in The Hague. Koller Auctions has estimated the painting at CHF 350 000 / 500 000. 


Gerrit Dou, Hermit praying. Ca. 1670. Oil on panel. Signed: GDOV. 34,5x29 cm. CHF 350 000 / 500 000.

A further highlight of the auction comes from the renowned collection Wolfgang Joop and consists of two altar wings (dated ca. 1490) by the Meister der Heiligen Sippe (Master of the Holy Kinship) who was active in Cologne. The altar wings depict The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary with St. Bartholomew and St. Peter looking on. At one time, the wings formed the outer panels of an imposing altarpiece. The remaining panels of this altarpiece are currently all part of public collections. The inner panels depicting the Adoration of the Magi and the Resurrection of Christ are currently in the Indiana University Art Museum in Bloomington, Indiana, and the central panel depicting the Crucifixion of Jesus is in the collection of the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique in Brussels. Koller estimates the altar wings at CHF 300 000 to 500 000. 


Master of the Holy Kinship, ca 1490. Two altar wings: The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary with St. Bartholomew and St. Peter looking on.Oil on oakwood. Each 134 x 94 cm. CHF 300 000 / 500 000

Books and Autographs. Peytier, Descartes and Walser originals

Three top-notch objects will be presented in the auction for Books and Autographs on 29 March. Eugène Peytier is represented with his Album on Liberated Greece and the French Morea expedition, with 63 original watercolors, 6 sepia drawings and 11 pencil drawings. The album documents the Greek Revolution as an all-European event and is considered the key work on Liberated Greece. It is in excellent condition and stems from a Swiss private collection. It is estimated to sell for CHF 300 000 to 400 000. Koller is auctioning a letter dated 27 May 1638 from René Descartes to Martin Marsenne valued between CHF 250 000 to 350 000. The four-page letter is extremely important with respect to the history of science, since it contains Descartes‘ opinion on basic issues with regard to his research. The letter was stolen from the „Institut de France“ by the notorious book thief Guglielmo Libri (1802-1869) and was considered lost for a long time. The third highlight of the Books auction is Robert Walser‘s complete manuscript of his novella „Ophelia“. The 13 pages are being offered for CHF 60 000 to 80 000. Manuscripts by Robert Walser are very rarely available.


René Descartes. Autobiographic letter to Martin Marsenne, 27 May 1638. CHF 250 000 / 350 000.


Robert Walser, "Ophelia". Autobiographic manuscript„ ca. 1924. CHF 60 000 / 80 000.

Old Master Drawings and Prints: Jan Brueghel the Elder and Albrecht Dürer

The Old Master Drawings and Prints auctions are offering a rare double-page with sketches by Jan Brueghel the Elder. The front features covered wagons and human figures, the back depicts a sketch of a row of houses along a town canal. The sketch stems from the Collection of Dr. E. Perman in Stockholm and is dated 1630. Bidding will be opened at CHF 40 000 to 70 000. Another significant lot is Albrecht Dürer‘s woodcut „Rhinoceros“ which stems from a long-time Swiss private collection and is estimated at CHF 8 000 to 12 000. The printing plate originated around 1515, the print itself after 1620.


Jan Brueghel the Elder, Sketches of canvas-covered wagons and figures, ca 1603. Brown brush and pen, 15 x 21,9cm. CHF 40 000 / 70 000.


Albrecht Dürer, Das Rhinoceros, 1515. Brown woodcut, brown wash. After 1620. 21,7 x 30,1cm. CHF 8 000 to 12 000.