Jean-Etienne Liotard's A Dutch Girl at Breakfast - One of the last and finest oil paintings by the artist remaining in a Private Collection –realised £4.41 million / $5.69 million / €5.16 million. Photo: Sotheby's.
LONDON.- Over the last two days, at Sotheby’s London, masterpieces from the past attracted collectors from around the world, with over 50 countries and 40% more people participating in our sales of Old Master paintings, sculpture, works of arts and drawings and the highly anticipated Treasures auction. Today’s and yesterday’s four sales brought a combined total of £31,831,191 /$41,414,233 / €37,353,779.
Many of the lots offered combined royal and aristocratic provenance with extraordinary beauty, freshness to the market and the imprimatur of the most influential art patrons and collectors of their time.
OLD MASTERS EVENING SALE (6 July)
Total: $16,463,500 / $21,284,013 / €19,300,150
• Participants from 27 countries (up from the equivalent sale last year)
• 8 Auction records for works by Jean-Etienne Liotard, Marten van Cleve the Elder, Niccolò di ser Sozzo, Pacino di Bonaguida, Barthel Beham, Louis-Gabriel Blanchet, Dominic Serres and a still life by Jan Brueghel the Elder.
• Almost half of the lots sold above high estimates
• Three works were pursued by institutions, two of them successfully
• Auction record for a work by Jean-Etienne Liotard: One of the last and finest oil paintings by the artist remaining in a Private Collection, A Dutch Girl at Breakfast realised £4,405,000 / $5,694,784 / €5,163,979 (est. £4-6 million). Unseen on the market for almost 250 years, the work had remained in the possession of the family of William Ponsonby, 2nd Earl of Bessborough, Liotard’s friend and patron, since 1774.
Lot 36. Jean-Etienne Liotard (Geneva 1702- 1789), A Dutch girl at breakfast, oil on canvas, 46.8 x 39 cm.; 18 3/4 x 15 3/8 in. Estimate £4,000,000 — 6,000,000. Price realised £4.41 million / $5.69 million / €5.16 million. Photo Sotheby's.
• Auction record for a still life by Jan Brueghel the Elder: One of the greatest flower still lifes by left in private hands, Still Life of flowers in a stoneware vase, sold for £3,845,000/ $4,970,816 / €4,507,491 (est. £3-5 million). This beautifully preserved painting has been recently restituted to the Rothschild family, having previously hung in the National Gallery in Prague.
Lot 9. Jan Brueghel the Elder (Brussels 1568 - 1625 Antwerp), Studies of apples, pears, grapes, blackberries, an artichoke, spears of asparagus and a sprig of oak, oil on oak panel, 51.2 x 66.7 cm.; 20 1/8 x 26 1/4 in. Estimate £150,000 — 200,000. Price realised £3,845,000/ $4,970,816 / €4,507,491. Photo Sotheby's.
Provenance: Lord Bateman, Kalmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire;
His sale, London, Christie's, 11 April 1896, lot 137, as Snyders, for 15 guineas to Christie;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s, 18 May 1917, lot 85, as F. Snyders, for 10 guineas to Holzapfel;
With Galerie Dr. Schäffer, Berlin and New York, 1917;
With Galerie Dr. Benedict & Co., Berlin, 1929;
Ludwig Burchard, Germany, London and Farnham (Surrey), by 1929;
With Colnaghi, London, 1974;
Anonymous sale (‘Property from a European Private Collection’), London, Sotheby's, 5 July 1995, lot 12;
With Bernheimer, Munich, from whom acquired by the present owner.
Exhibited: Brussels, Paleis voor Schone Kunsten, La nature morte hollandaise, 1929, no. 22 (lent by L. Burchard, with labels recording the loan affixed to the reverse);
London, P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. Ltd, Old Master Paintings, 21 May – 22 June 1974, no. 42 (as Jan Brueghel the Elder).
Literature: E. Zarnowska, La nature-morte hollandaise: les principaux représentants, ses origines, son influence, exh. cat., Brussels 1929, p. 8, cat. no. 22, reproduced p. 45, plate 12;
H. Gerson and E. H. ter Kuile, Art and Architecture in Belgium, 1600–1800, London 1960, p. 61, reproduced fig. 44B;
P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. Ltd, Old Master Paintings, exhibition catalogue, London 1974, cat. no. 42, reproduced plate XXXI (as Jan Brueghel the Elder);
J. P. De Bruyn, Le Siècle de Rubens dans les collections publiques françaises, exhibition catalogue, Paris 1977, p. 54, under cat. no. 18;
K. Ertz, Jan Breughel the Younger (1601–1678), Freren 1984, pp. 503–04, no. 334, reproduced, and colour plate 65 (as Jan Brueghel the Younger).
Notes: This picture was long given to Jan Brueghel the Elder, but was re-attributed to his son by Klaus Ertz (see literature), who saw the painting in 1983. The catalogue entry from the sale at Sotheby's in 1995 records that Professor Egbert Haverkamp Begemann had written to us to restate his conviction, first expressed in the catalogue of the 1974 Colnaghi exhibition, that the work was indeed by Jan Brueghel the Elder. A saleroom notice added the information that Professor Matthias Winner held the same view, also expressed in a letter. Recently Fred G. Meijer has informed us on the basis of first-hand inspection that he thinks Jan Brueghel the Elder is the author.1
The panel is formed of two boards of oak from the same oak tree from The Netherlands or Germany (thus not Baltic oak). A tree-ring analysis done by Ian Tyers of Dendrochronological Consultancy Ltd shows that the last visible growth ring is from 1582, and assuming a median eight years of sapwood growth for North-West European oak, a terminus post quem felling date of circa 1590 can be assumed.2 Because the grain of Western European oak is not as straight as that of Baltic oak, a greater degree of trimming is to be expected, so one cannot assume that the last visible hardwood ring is the youngest, and consequently a likely earliest date of use cannot be estimated with any accuracy. One should therefore add a small number of extra years to reach a likely earliest date of use, but we may reasonably assume that the panel was available for use from the first decade of the seventeenth century onwards. While this does not exclude Jan Brueghel the Younger's authorship – either when he is presumed to have been working in his father's workshop before he went to Italy in the early 1620s, or after his return in 1625 – it makes it more likely that this highly accomplished sketch was done by the mature Jan Brueghel the Elder.
While we are unaware of any comparable oil sketches of plant matter by Jan Brueghel the Elder, two such studies of animals: one of dogs; the other of donkeys, apes and cats, both done on primed oak panels, are in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Alexander Wied was the first to explain in detail why they are by Brueghel, connecting some of the animals with finished works, and dating both circa 1616.3 Wied's arguments were expanded on by Klaus Ertz in his revised Jan Brueghel the Elder catalogue raisonné.4 A handful of other such sketches are known, some only from photographs.
1. Oral communication.
2. A copy of his report, no. 849, dated May 2016, is available on request and will be supplied to the buyer.
3. See A. Wied, in K. Ertz (ed.), Breughel–Brueghel, exhibition catalogue, Lingen 1998, p. 304, no. 93, reproduced.
4. See K. Ertz and C. Nitze-Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere (1568–1625), Kritischer Katalog der Gemälde, Lingen 2008–10, vol. III, pp. 1262–64, nos 582–83, reproduced.
• A Monumental Oil Sketch by Rubens, The Chariot of Apollo, fetched £1,145,000/ $1,480,256 / €1,342,283 (est. £1-1.5 million). Not seen on public display since 1823, this oil study had been in the possession of the family of the celebrated Rubens collector August Neuerburg, since 1930.
Lot 7. Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Siegen 1577 - 1640 Antwerp), The Chariot of Apollo, oil on oak panel, marouflaged, 99 x 73 cm.; 39 x 28 3/4 in. Estimate £1,000,000 — 1,500,000. Price realised £1,145,000/ $1,480,256 / €1,342,283. Photo Sotheby's.
Provenance: Perhaps Canon Jan Philip Happaert (d. 1686), Antwerp;
Probably Jacques Meijers, Rotterdam;
His posthumous sale, Rotterdam, Aarnolt Willis, 9 September 1722, lot 77, for 70 florins;
Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave (1755–1831);
By whose Executors sold, London, Christie and Manson, 12 May 1832, lot 24, for 19½ guineas, (probably to Shepperson);
Ralph Fletcher, Gloucester, by 1838;
His sale, London, Christie and Manson, 9 June 1838, lot 24, for £20.9s.6d.;
Enea Lanfranconi (1850–1895), Preßburg (now Bratislava);
His posthumous sale ('The Paintings Gallery of Grazioso Enea Lanfranconi'), Cologne, Heberle, 23 October 1895, lot 175, for 2760 marks (the measurements as stated in the auction catalogue are 105 x 85 cm.; the discrepancy may be due to framing; but the catalogue illustration opposite p. 47 clearly shows the present picture);
M. Bourgeois, Cologne;
From whom purchased by Baron Albert von Oppenheim (1834–1912), Cologne, for 20,000 francs;
His posthumous sale, Berlin, Rudolph Lepke, 27 October 1914, lot 34, unsold;
His posthumous sale, Berlin, Rudolph Lepke, 19 March 1918, lot 34, for 53,000 Reichsmark;
With Lippmann, Berlin;
Camillo Castiglioni (1879–1957), Vienna;
His sale, Amsterdam, Frederik Muller & Co, 17–20 November 1925, lot 73, unsold;
His sale, Berlin, H. Ball & P. Graupe, 28–29 November 1930, lot 40, sold for 35,000 Reichsmarks to Galerie Matthiesen, Berlin, on behalf of August Neuerburg;
August Neuerburg (d. 1944), Hamburg-Blankenese, acquired on 29 November 1930;
Thence by descent.
Exhibited: London, British Institution, Pictures by Sir Joshua Reynolds; with a selection from the Italian, Spanish, Flemish and Dutch Schools, with which the proprietors have favoured the Institution, 1823, no. 125.
Literature: Inventory of the estate of Canon Jan Philip Happaert, Antwerp 1686: 'Item een schetsken van mijnheer Rubbens, naer Primatricij gequoteert No 33', in E. Duverger, Antwerpse Kunstinventarissen uit de zeventiende eeuw (Fontes historiae artis neerlandicae. Bronnen voor de Kunstgeschiedenis van de Nederlanden, I), Brussels 1984–2009, XI, p. 371, doc. 3.754;
Catalogue des tableaux du fameux cabinet de feu Mr. Jacques Meijers, qu'on vendra publiquement le 9 Septembre 1722 dans la maison mortuaire du defunt à Rotterdam, Rotterdam 1722, no. 77 (as '[Rubens] Un Tableau en maniere de Plafond, representant un Triomphe. 2' 5'' x 3' 2''');
G. Hoet, Catalogus of naamlyst van Schilderyen, met derzelver pryzen. Zedert een langen reeks van Jaaren zoo in Holland als op andere Plaatzen in het openbaar verkogt, The Hague 1752, I, p. 273, no. 77;
A Catalogue of Pictures by Sir Joshua Reynolds; with a selection from the Italian, Spanish, Flemish and Dutch Schools, with which the proprietors have favoured the Institution, British Institution, London 1823, p. 18, no. 125;
An Account of all the Pictures exhibited in the Rooms of the British Institution from 1813 to 1823, belonging to the Nobility and Gentry of England, with remarks, critical and explanatory, London 1824, p. 150;
J. Smith, A catalogue raisonné…, Part II, London 1830, p. 269, no. 908;
J. Smith, A catalogue raisonné... Supplement, Part IX, London 1842, p. 326, no. 299;
M. Rooses, L’œuvre de P.P. Rubens, Antwerp 1886–92, vol. III, pp. 45–46, no. 566;
L. Dimier, Le Primatice, peintre, sculpteur et architecte des rois de France. Essai sur la vie et les ouvrages de cet artiste suivi d'un catalogue raisonné de ses dessins et de ses compositions gravées, Paris 1900, p. 478, no. *3;
E. Molinier, Collection du Baron Albert Oppenheim. Tableaux et objets d’art, Paris 1904, p. 15, no. 36, reproduced as plate XXXIII;
A. Marguillier, ‘Review of E. Molinier, Collection du baron Albert Oppenheim. Tableaux et objets d’art’, in La Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, supplément à La Gazette des Beaux-Arts, no. 16, 22 April 1905, p. 126;
A. Rosenberg, P. P. Rubens. Des Meisters Gemälde, Klassiker der Kunst, vol. V, Stuttgart–Leipzig 1905, p. 472, reproduced on p. 170;
W. von Bode, Collection Baron Albert Oppenheim, Cöln, Gemälde, Berlin–Munich 1914, p. 54, no. 34, reproduced;
I. Q. van Regteren Altena, ‘Rubens as a Draughtsman, I: Relations to Italian Art’, The Burlington Magazine, LXXVI, 1940, p. 194;
L. Van Puyvelde, The Sketches of Rubens, London 1947, p. 83, no. 54;
L. Burchard, A loan exhibition of works by Peter Paul Rubens, Kt.: held under the auspices of the Royal Empire Society in aid of the Lord Mayor's National Thanksgiving Fund, London 1950, p. 57, under no. 50;
I. Q. van Regteren Altena, ‘Rubens en de Galerie d’Ulysse’, Bulletin van het Rijksmuseum, I, 1953, p. 11;
L. Burchard and R.-A. d’Hulst, Rubens Drawings, I, Brussels 1963, p. 253;
J. Foucart, in S. Béguin, L’École de Fontainebleau, exhibition catalogue, Grand Palais, Paris 1972–73, p. 191, under no. 215;
M. Jaffé, Rubens and Italy, Oxford 1977, p. 45;
J. S. Held, The Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens. A Critical Catalogue, Princeton 1980, vol. I, p. 3, note 2, reproduced as fig. 71;
K. Wilson-Chevalier, ‘La postérité de l’école de Fontainebleau dans la gravure du XVIIe siècle’, Nouvelles de l’Estampe, no. 62, 1982, p. 15, note 38;
S. Béguin, J. Guillaume and A. Roy, La Galerie d’Ulysse à Fontainebleau, Paris 1985, p. 174;
M. Jaffé, Rubens. Catalogo Completo, Milan 1989, p. 286, no. 796;
F. Healy, ‘Rubens and the Judgement of Paris: a question of choice’, in Pictura Nova. Studies in the 16th- and 17th-Century Flemish Painting and Drawing, III, 1997, pp. 78, 187, note 60;
D. Jaffé, ‘Rubens back and front. The case of the National Gallery Samson and Delilah’, Apollo, July 2000, pp. 21, 25;
J. Wood, ‘Rubens as Thief. His use of past art and some adaptations from Primaticcio’, in Concept, Design, and Execution in Flemish Painting (1550–1700), H. Vlieghe, A. Balis and C. Van de Velde (eds), Turnhout 2000, pp. 155, 169, notes 26, 28;
N. Lowitzsch, in Rubens in Vienna. The Masterpieces, J. Kräftner, W. Seipel and R.Trnek (eds), Vienna 2004, p. 268, under no. 68;
V. Romani, in D. Cordellier and G. Bresc, Primatice. Maître de Fontainebleau, exhibition catalogue, Musée du Louvre, Paris 2004–05, p. 316, under no. 154;
J. Wood, ‘Rubens’ italienische Kopien. Ein chronologischer Abriss’, in Rubens im Wettstreit mit Alten Meistern. Vorbild un Neuerfindung, R. Baumstark, K. Lohse Belkin, G. Cavalli-Björkman, M. Neumeister, C. Quaeitzsch and J. Wood (eds), exhibition catalogue, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek, Munich 2009–10, pp. 69–70, reproduced as fig. 43;
J. Wood, Rubens: Copies and adaptations from Renaissance and later artists, Italian Artists, III, Artists working in central Italy and France, Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, XXVI, London 2011, vol. I, pp. 270, 307–11, no. 217, vol. II, reproduced as fig. 146;
P. Golenia, K. Kratz-Kessemeier, I. Le Masne de Chermont, Paul Graupe (1881–1953), Cologne 2016, p. 50, reproduced fig. 47.
Notes: Not seen on public display since 1823, this highly charged sketch painted in oil on panel is Rubens’ spirited interpretation of a ceiling fresco designed by Francesco Primaticcio (1504/05–1570) for a room in the Galerie d’Ulysse at the royal château of Fontainebleau, now destroyed. Testament to Rubens’ powers of artistic adaptation, this painting is both a tribute to the most influential artist working in France in the century prior to his own residency there, and a thoroughly characteristic example of his preferred medium of the oil sketch.
Primaticcio’s own design, which places Apollo’s chariot directly above the head of the viewer, survives only in the form of a red chalk drawing preserved at the Louvre, Paris (fig. 1).1 The source of inspiration for this audacious di sotto in sùcomposition can be found in a ceiling painting by Giulio Romano (1499[?]–1546) preserved in the Camera del Sole e della Luna, a small room at Palazzo del Te, Mantua (fig. 2). Already in the eighteenth century the subject of Primaticcio’s ceiling led to confusion. The first source to identify the subject of Rubens’ painting correctly as ‘The Chariot of Apollo, a Design for a Ceiling’ was the 1823 catalogue of the British Institution.2
fig. 1. Francesco Primaticcio, Chariot of Apollo, drawing © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Michèle Bellot Marine Sangis
fig. 2. Giulio Romano, The Chariot of the Sun and the Moon, fresco, 1530, detail of the Room of the Sun and the Moon, Palazzo Te, Mantua, Italy
The subject depicts the daily gallop across the heavens undertaken by the sun god Apollo in his golden chariot to bring light to the world. According to Ovid, the chariot is driven by a team of four horses but Primaticcio, followed by Rubens, showed only two, presumably to lend greater legibility to the scene. The god himself is obscured from view, although from the composition’s centre the light he generates shines forth as day dispels the clouds of night. The twelve figures of the Hours are a mass of gravity-defying bodies, with some clinging to the wheels of the chariot, while others hold on to whatever they can – even to the underside of one of the horses. The naked children who float in their midst are the Months, although not all twelve can be accounted for.
Rubens had first-hand knowledge of Giulio Romano’s remarkable ceiling from when he was employed as court artist to the Gonzaga at Mantua. Duke Vincenzo I Gonzaga, who reigned there from 1587–1612, shared his family’s passion for acquiring works of art. Not only did he succeed in attracting Rubens to his court, he also continued to build on the collection’s outstanding holdings of Italian Renaissance paintings, which included works by Mantegna, Giovanni Bellini, Titian, Correggio and Tintoretto, as well as spectacular sculptures. For Rubens, the experience was revelatory. There from 1600 and then intermittently until 1608, he copied and studied what he saw; the impact on his work was profound and long-lasting.
Giulio Romano, in Mantua as court artist for Federico II Gonzaga (reg. 1519–40) more than half a century earlier, designed the Palazzo del Te and created for it an astonishing sequence of frescoes on walls as well as ceilings that cannot have failed to impress Rubens for their abundance of invention. However this design differs from Giulio’s treatment of the subject there. As well as Apollo, Giulio’s fresco depicts Diana, goddess of the moon, in her horse-drawn chariot, as she begins her journey in the evening at the end of his. It is likely that Primaticcio had direct knowledge of it through Giulio’s drawings, which he took to France. Furthermore, an engraving by Adamo Scultori (c. 1530–1585) disseminated Giulio’s invention (fig. 3).3 A design by Primaticcio for a variant composition with both Apollo and Diana has survived in the Louvre. This too was recorded by Rubens in an oil sketch today known only from three workshop versions.4 Also copied in the seventeenth century, this oil sketch has the singular distinction of being the only study by Rubens of this startlingly complex design to have survived.5
Rubens may have seen Primaticcio’s ceiling painting at Fontainebleau (only a short distance from Paris, where from 1622 he was engaged on the great Medici cycle at the Louvre), or, more intriguingly, he might have known – or perhaps even owned – the Louvre modello. In the seventeenth century the latter belonged to Everhard Jabach (1618–1675), who with the help of Canon Jan Philip Happaert (d. 1686) – possibly the first owner of Rubens’ sketch – acquired a substantial part of Rubens’ drawings collection.6 Since Rubens’ Chariot of Apollo retains the character of a sketch, is seems more likely that he was working from the modello.
In large part Rubens is faithful to the design in outline of Primaticcio’s prototype but he has made the composition thoroughly his own. The luminous background of the oil sketch gives a pronounced sense of space and light around the figures that is absent in the drawing. Rubens also made a number of changes vis-à-vis Primaticcio’s arrangement of figures. Some are minor, such as the female figure on the left whose arm extends across the underside of the chariot; or the figure at the back, whose right foot is made more dainty, while her left is tried out in different positions; other alterations are more significant; for example, the figure of a child tucked between two personifications of the Hours on the chariot’s right flank is turned to face the other way and set back, creating a more dynamic arrangement with great economy of means; and the head of the figure in front of the left-hand horse is given added prominence; by shedding Primaticcio’s mannerist twist, she becomes – like her counterparts – the embodiment of Rubensian beauty. On either side of Rubens’ composition, beyond the main cluster of figures, are tumbling children that do not correspond with any on Primaticcio’s modello; probably never part of the Fontainebleau design, their presence in Rubens’ oil sketch is another instance of his playful inventiveness.
The Chariot of Apollo is larger than almost all of the artist’s oil sketches. The dimensions given for height and width in the manuscript catalogue of Jacques Meijers posthumous sale of 1722 and in Hoet’s Catalogus, The Hague 1752, suggest the panel was then displayed horizontally.7 More recently however it has been viewed as a vertical composition. Compared to Primaticcio’s red chalk drawing, Rubens’ oil sketch is more than twice its height and width. Its size and dynamic composition give it the characteristic impact of Rubens’ best work.
Rooses dated the painting to about 1615–20, before the artist visited Paris, but others have favoured a later date in the early 1620s. Jaffé’s dating of about 1625 assumes that Rubens painted his sketch from Primaticcio’s ceiling rather than from themodello, although this seems less likely. Wood initially suggested that Rubens painted it in about 1625–28, shortly after he returned from Paris to Antwerp, perhaps with Primaticcio's modello already in his possession.8 Subsequently he proposed that the work is just as likely to have been made once Rubens was back in Antwerp and that it might therefore be datable to as late as the first years of the 1630s, since his colour adaptations on paper of Primaticcio’s works date from those years.9However, the character of the outlines would seem to suggest otherwise, since stylistically the brush-drawn lines relate more to his drawings in pen and ink of the previous decade. A date in the 1620s in the wake of the years Rubens spent in Paris seems more likely.
The Chariot of Apollo is one of very few paintings by Rubens that combines his preferred working method of the oil sketch with the inspiration he drew from the masters of the past and is arguably the best known example. In the vigour and freedom of the medium of the oil sketch Rubens adopted Primaticcio’s idea and then made it entirely his own. Though not made in preparation for a planned finished work – and thus considered by Held not to be defined as a sketch – this painting is not only thoroughly sketch-like in character but also utterly typical in style and exuberant handling. Described by Smith as a ‘masterly finished study’, it is through its vibrant surface that we feel most palpably the impact of Rubens’ genius.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF OWNERSHIP
Henry Phipps, 1st Earl of Mulgrave served in the army in the Caribbean during the American Revolutionary war, and was briefly in charge of the British forces following the seizure of Toulon. He eventually rose to the rank of General, before pursuing a political career, serving in Pitt the Younger’s second administration as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and as Foreign Secretary in Pitt’s Third Coalition against Napoleon. Later he served as First Lord of the Admiralty (1807–1810), then as Master-General of the Ordnance (1810–1819), and finally as Minister without Portfolio (1819–1820). He inherited Mulgrave Castle near Whitby in North Yorkshire from his brother, who had had the grounds remodelled by Humphry Repton, but it is not clear if he kept his collection there or in London.
Enea Lanfranconi, an hydraulic engineer of Umbrian birth, is credited with regulating the flow of the Danube to expedite shipping and limit flooding in its middle reaches between Vienna and Budapest in the 1890s. As well as a vast villa outside his adopted city of Preßburg (now Bratislava in Slovakia), he built a palace in the city where he housed his library and his collection of some 300 paintings. He did not live to enjoy these in old age however, shooting himself with a rifle when aged 44. The present work was one of at least eight paintings by Rubens in his posthumous sale.
Albert von Oppenheim was a scion of the Cologne banking dynasty: the bank, Sal. Oppenheim, was founded in the eighteenth century and remained independent until its sale in 2009. His collection, housed in the palace he built in 1865 in Glockengasse 3 in Cologne, comprised a handful of Early Netherlandish works and a much larger number of Dutch and Flemish seventeenth-century paintings, including a further two works by Rubens.
The Triestino Camillo Castiglioni was an Italian-Austrian financier and a pioneer of aeroplane manufacture, founding a company that was the first to engage in production-line manufacture of aircraft. Through his industrial interests, and his subsequent investments in the stock market in the 1920s, he became very wealthy, housing his spectacular collection of 16th- and 17th-century paintings and Renaissance bronzes in a palace in Vienna. He was deeply engaged in philanthropy and music, supporting the Salzburg Festival and sponsoring Max Reinhardt. Failed speculations, in particular an initially successful shorting of the French franc which went spectacularly wrong when Lazard and J. P. Morgan bought francs energetically until it recovered, brought about his first sale, at Frederik Muller in Amsterdam in July 1926, and led to the dispersal of his collections four years later, in November 1930.10 The sale included paintings by Titian, Bronzino, Moroni, Canaletto, Gerard David and Lucas Cranach, but the present picture was the highlight, and was by some margin the most expensive work in the entire sale, fetching 35,000 Reichsmarks.
August Neuerburg was the greatest private collector of paintings by Rubens in the twentieth century. He owned at least ten pictures that were believed to be by Rubens, of which all bar a couple are still believed to be authentic. His most famous Rubens is the Samson and Delilah now in the National Gallery, London.
August Neuerburg was a scion of a dynasty of tobacco merchants, originally from the village of Wittlich, but established in Cologne by the mid-nineteenth century, whence branches and factories were opened all over Germany. The firm established a raw tobacco warehouse in Hamburg in the early 1920s, and August settled there, buying a house at Elbchaussee 77 in the former riverside village of Blankenese, by then a suburb of Hamburg. He seems to have bought most of his pictures in a burst of activity within a remarkably short period of time between 1927 and 1930.
The invoice issued by Galerie Matthiesen to August Neuerburg on 29 November 1930 (see fig. 3), while the Castiglioni sale was still in progress, makes it clear that the Gallery acquired the painting at the sale on Neuerburg’s behalf: Wir erwarben für sie (‘We acquired for you’). Their 12% commission is stated on the invoice, so the invoiced amount is Reichsmark 39,200.
Ellis Waterhouse visited Neuerburg’s house in Blankenese in June 1945, a year after the collector’s death.11 He listed pictures that, including the present one (‘Car of Phoebus’), had been placed for safe-keeping in the Hamburg Flakturm on 21 March 1940, from where they were retrieved on 10 April 1945.12
The present painting has been marouflaged: the original oak panel shaved very thinly, and glued to a more modern block-board support. While this was – and is – in general an unusual practice, for an unknown reason it was customary for Neuerburg to have had his panel paintings so treated, and he also had his paintings on canvas glued to a similar wooden support. As David Jaffé makes clear in his article on the subject, five of his Rubenses on panel, including the present work and the celebrated Samson and Delilah were treated this way, along with a work by Artus Wolffort, and two further paintings by Rubens on canvas were laid down on blockboard.13 There is no evidence why Neuerburg had his panels so treated (although the marouflaging of panels was more popular in the interwar years than before or since), nor who did it, but it must have occurred between 1930 and 1940, when most of them were placed in storage.
1. Département des Arts Graphiques, Musée du Louvre, inv. no. 8519; red chalk, heightened with white on paper, 343 x 461 mm.; see Romani in Paris 2004–05, pp. 314–16, no. 154, reproduced.
2. London 1823, p. 18, no. 125. Smith mistakenly called it ‘The Fall of Phaethon’; see Smith 1830, Part II, p. 269.
3. The Illustrated Bartsch, Italian Masters of the Sixteenth Century, S. Boorsch and J. Spike (eds), New York 1986, 31, p. 174, no. 22.
4. These are in the collection of Prince von und zu Liechtenstein; the Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste, Vienna; and the Musée Bonnat, Bayonne; all three reproduced in Wood 2001, figs 142–144.
5. Of the two known copies, both probably from Rubens’s workshop, one is in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin (oil on panel, 60 x 41 cm.; inv. no. 798 D), the other, its whereabouts unknown, was sold in Cologne in 1895 and last recorded in the Kartschmaroff Collection, Budapest (oil on panel, 105 x 72.5 cm.); see M. Rooses, ‘Œuvre de Rubens. Addenda et Corrigenda’, Rubens-Bulletijn, IV, 1896, pp. 274–75, no. 566 and Wood 2011, pp. 308, 310 and 311, note 21.
6. Happaert’s probate inventory lists ‘een schetsken van mijnheer Rubbens, near Primatricij’; see Wood 2001, p. 309.
7. The same dimensions in the manuscript version of the 1722 sale in the RKD, The Hague, (Lugt 302), as ‘h. 2 v. 5 d. br. 3 v. 2 d.’ in Hoet 1752, I, p. 273, no. 77.
8. Wood in Munich 2009–10, pp. 69–70.
9. Wood 2011, p. 310; for his introductory discussion of the series see pp. 268–278 and nos 209–14. The work was known to him only from a photograph.
10. Camillo Castiglioni’s life was documented in a 1988 movie on television titled Camillo Castiglioni oder die Moral der Haifische (Camillo Castiglioni, or the morality of sharks), directed by Peter Patzak.
11. See Jaffé 2000, p. 25, under Appendix C.
12. The Flakturm (in fact one of several) was constructed as a tower for the mounting of anti-aircraft batteries, and contained a vast reinforced bunker in its bowels. It was so solidly constructed from ferro-concrete that it survived the war intact and still stands today. Recently, a café has opened on its roof.
13. See Jaffé 2000.
• 40% of the works offered tonight had not appeared on the market for over 60 years.
• 16% of the works have been in the same collection for over 240 years, often remaining in the possession of the families of the original owner.
Dutch & Flemish Paintings
In addition to the Brueghel, the sale included a rich group of Dutch and Flemish paintings which together realised £7,264,500 (est. £7.1-10.9 million).
Italian Renaissance Works
Led by Pacino di Bonaguida’s The Miracle of the Tomb of Saint Proculus which sold for £425,000 / $549,440 / €498,227 (est. £50,000-70,000), Italian Renaissance works performed well tonight, realising a combined total of £1,040,000, well above pre-sale expectations (est. £680,000-940,000).
Lot 26. Pacino di Bonaguida (Active in Florence 1302 - Before 1340), The Miracle of the Tomb of Saint Proculus, tempera on panel, gold ground, 21 by 31.6 cm.; 8 1/4 by 12 3/8 in. Estimate £50,000 — 70,000. Price realised £425,000 / $549,440 / €498,227. Photo Sotheby's.
Provenance: Bertolaso, Genoa, 1927;
With Julius Böhler, Munich, by January 1929;
From whom acquired by Georg Hartmann (1870–1954), Frankfurt-am-Main, 24 March 1938 (as the St. Cecilia Master);
Thence by inheritance to his wife, Frau Hanny Finsterlin, Frankfurt-am-Main;
Thence by descent.
Literature: Memorie della sagrestia di S. Procolo, c. 45, in Conventi Soppressi, 78, vol. 352, March 1740, Archivio di Stato, Florence, in Offner 1956, sect. III, vol. VI, p. 159 (as Giotto);
G. Richa, Notizie istoriche delle chiese Fiorentine, vol. I, Florence 1754, pp. 239 and 242–43 (as Ambrogio Lorenzetti);
V. Follini and M. Rastrelli, Firenze Antica e Moderna Illustrata, vol. V, Florence 1794, p. 141 (as Ambrogio Lorenzetti);
G. de Nicola, 'Il soggiorno fiorentino di Ambrogio Lorenzetti', in Bollettino d'Arte del Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione, vol. I, series II, 1922, p. 52 (as Ambrogio Lorenzetti);
R. Offner, A critical and historical corpus of Florentine painting. The fourteenth century, sect. III, vol. I, New York 1931, p. 114, reproduced Add.Plate I (as 'Remoter following of the St. Cecilia Master');
R. Longhi, 'Giudizio sul Duecento' e Ricerche sul Trecento nell'Italia Centrale, 1939–70, in Edizione delle Opere complete di Roberto Longhi, vol. 7, Florence 1974, pp. 50–51, cat. no. 127 (as Pacino di Bonaguida, wrongly identifying the scenes as from the life of Saint Zenobius);
W. and E. Paatz, Die Kirchen von Florenz, vol. IV, Frankfurt-am-Main 1952, pp. 692–93 (as Ambrogio Lorenzetti);
G. Kaftal, Saints in Italian Art. Iconography of the saints in Tuscan painting, Florence 1952 (1986 ed.), p. 860, cat. no. 256(AI), reproduced p. 859, fig. 971 (as Pacino di Bonaguida);
R. Offner, A critical and historical corpus of Florentine painting. The fourteenth century, sect. III, vol. VI, New York 1956, pp. 153–60, reproduced plate XLIV (as Pacino di Bonaguida and workshop).
Notes: This panel once formed part of a predella made up of seven scenes from the life of Saint Proculus for an altarpiece, presumed to date to circa 1315–20, in the titular church in Florence, which belonged to the Benedictines of Badia.1 The literary source for the sequence is the text of the fourteenth-century legendist Petrus Calo, found in the Acta Sanctorum, although there is some confusion over at least three saints of the same name.2 The saint represented here is presumed to be Saint Proculus, Bishop of Terni or Bologna, who was beheaded in 542.
The first panel from the predella, which depicts Saint Proculus celebrating Mass, was presumed lost until it appeared on the Paris art market in 1992.3 The two subsequent scenes are in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard, showing Saint Proculus stopping a doe in the wilderness, and Saint Proculus milking the doe to quench the thirst of his companions (figs 1 and 2).4 Another panel, recorded as in a private collection, Bergamo, depicts the Flagellation of Saint Proculus, and a fifth, formerly part of the Cinelli collection, Florence, represents the Beheading of Saint Proculus.5 The sixth panel, which pictures Saint Proculus healing a child’s hand, is still untraced. Whereas the other scenes from the predella represent episodes from the saint’s life, the present work records a posthumous episode: reportedly forty days after its death, a child placed under Saint Proculus' tomb was restored to life.6 Pacino depicts the moments before and after the child's resurrection – we see him pictured both beneath the tomb and in front of it, alongside the figures united in supplication and gratitude.
fig. 1. Pacino di Bonaguida, Saint Proculus on a Journey Stops a Doe in the Wilderness, c. 1315-1320, Tempera on panel, 25 x 34.9 x 2.5 cm (9 13/16 x 13 3/4 x 1 in.). Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop, 1943.110. Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College.
fig. 2. Pacino di Bonaguida, Saint Proculus Induces the Doe to give Milk to his Thirsty Companions, c. 1315-1320, Tempera on panel, 25 x 34.9 x 2.5 cm (9 13/16 x 13 3/4 x 1 in.). Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop, 1943.11. Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Each of the extant panels is framed by a plain border with four diagonal corners, as seen in the present work. Richa (see under literature) records that the altarpiece was probably dismembered in 1622.7 Its original structure can only be conjectured on the basis of these predella paintings: the polyptych above presumably had seven corresponding compartments, perhaps representing a Madonna with three saints either side. The lost panel, Saint Proculus healing a child’s hand, would originally have been placed in the centre of the predella, and was quite possibly wider than the others to allow for this formation. The original Madonna panel is recorded up until 1792, but has since vanished. Three half-length panels however, presumed to be some of those which formerly flanked the Madonna, are now in the Galleria dell' Accademia, Florence – they represent Saint John the Evangelist and two Bishop saints, most likely identifiable as Saint Nicholas and Saint Proculus himself.8
A contemporary of Giotto, Pacino spent his entire career in Florence, not only as a panel painter but also as a well-known and successful illuminator. He is first mentioned in 1303 in connection with the painter Tambo di Serraglio, with whom he dissolved a partnership established the previous year, and he is last documented in his enrolment for the Florentine guild, the Arte dei Medici e Speziali, in about 1330. Pacino’s only signed work is an altarpiece which depicts the Crucifixion with Saints Nicholas, Bartholomew, Florentius and Luke, originally the main altar of the church of San Firenze (now in the Galleria dell' Accademia, Florence).9
Richard Offner was first responsible for the reconstruction of Pacino’s career and œuvre, with the San Firenze altarpiece at its centre. Pacino’s debt to the work of artists such as Giotto and the St. Cecilia Master had previously led to the misattribution of the present work and many other paintings to these artists (including by Offner himself; see under literature). Offner, however, came to identify Pacino as the innovator of a stylistic trend found in Florentine painting in the first half of the fourteenth century, which he termed the ‘miniaturist tendency.’ This approach is characterised by the clear organisation of the painted surface into multiple small-scale scenes, across which narrative runs fluidly and comprehensibly in a vernacular, but no less expressive, manner. As both a prolific illuminator of manuscripts and painter of altarpieces, it is not surprising that Pacino’s facility for this popular ‘miniaturist’ style should have permeated all his works, not least the present painting and the Saint Proculus predella as a whole.
This panel was formerly owned by Georg Hartmann, industrialist, typographer, patron and collector. Hartmann’s tastes were eclectic, ranging from Northern medieval sculptures and paintings to the work of contemporary artists, such as Max Beckmann, whom Hartmann secretly commissioned in 1941 to paint a series of the Apocalyspe, despite the condemnation of the artist’s work by the Nazis. Today, parts of Hartmann’s acclaimed collection are found in museums around the world such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Städel Museum, Frankfurt. Hartmann’s legacy is still felt in Frankfurt’s wider context, particularly in his tireless and passionate efforts to support the city’s reconstruction after the war, including the Goethe-Haus, for which he was awarded Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1953.
1. This ownership accounts for Pacino’s depiction of figures in the present work, and the other panels, in Benedictine habits.
2. See Acta sanctorum Julii ex Latinis & Graecis aliarumque gentium antiquis monumentis..., vol. I, Antwerp 1719, pp. 41-55, especially pp. 53-55 (Ex Mss. Petri Calo, Dominicani);
3. Anonymous sale, Paris, Audap-Solanet, Godeau-Veillet, 11 December 1992, lot 39, for 710,000 Francs.
4. Inv. nos 1943.110 and 1943.111, respectively. See E.P. Bowron, European paintings before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard 1990, p. 123, reproduced p. 281, figs 478 and 479.
5. See Kaftal 1986, p. 860, cat. nos 256(A5) and 256(A6), reproduced p. 859, figs 969 and 970.
6. The same miracle is related in the life of Saint Herculanus, Bishop of Perugia, and some other bishop saints.
7. For a more detailed history of the altarpiece, see Offner 1956, pp. 158-59, note N.2.
8. Inv. nos 8698–8700; see R. Offner, A critical and historical corpus of Florentine painting. The fourteenth century, sect. III, vol. II, pt. II, New York 1930, reproduced Add.Plates IV–IV3.
9. Inv. no. 8568. It bears the inscription, signature and date: SIMON PRESPITERO S. Florentia PINGI FECIT HOC OPUS A PACINO BONAGUIDE Anno Domini MCCCX […]. See G. Bonsanti, The Galleria della Accademia, Florence, Florence 1987, pp. 55 and 66, reproduced in colour p. 55.
*Previous Auction Records:
Previous auction record for a work by Liotard: Portrait de Mademoiselle Louise Jacquet, Pastel, sold for €1,464,750 ($1,843,612) at sotheby’s Paris in June 2012
Previous auction record for a still life by Jan Brueghel the Elder: Blumenstrauß in Tonvase, oil on canvas Sold for €2,331,000 ($2,907,571) at Kinsky in November 2014
TREASURES (6 July)
Total: £6,303,250 / $8,148,842 / €7,389,296
Top lot: The magnificent Rothschild Orpheus Cup, made in Augsburg, Southern Germany circa 1600-1640 surpassed expectations and sold for £1,061,000 / $1,371,661 / €1,243,810 (est. £600,000-800,000, illustrated p.1). It is extremely rare for a late Renaissance gold and enamelled object to have stimulated so much comment and adulation. The Orpheus Cup is first recorded as one of the exhibits at the 1862 International Exhibition on loan from the collection of Baron Lionel de Rothschild (1808-1879).
Lot 8. Southern German, Augsburg, circa 1600. The Rothschild Orpheus Cup. Estimate £600,000-800,000/ €780,000-1,040,000/ $880,000-1,170,000. Price realised £1,061,000 / $1,371,661 / €1,243,810. Photo Sotheby's.
A magnificent ormolu and enamel musical automaton "jardinière" table clock whose case was probably made by Chinese workshops at Guangzhou and the movement was signed by the London clockmaker, Robert Philp, circa 1785 made £1,025,000 / $1,325,120 / €1,201,607 (est. £400,000-600,000).
Lot 32. An ormolu and enamel musical automaton 'jardinière' table clock, the case Chinese, Qianlong, probably Guangzhou; the movement by Robert Philp, London, circa 1785. Estimate £400,000-600,000/ €520,000-780,000 / $585,000-880,000. Price realised £1,025,000 / $1,325,120 / €1,201,607. Photo: Sotheby's.
OLD MASTER AND BRITISH WORKS ON PAPER (5 & 6 July)
Total: £6,149,066 / $8,127,835 / €7,234,388
Top lot: A masterful Self-portrait by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680) soared above estimate and achieved £869,000 / $1,148,644 / €1,022,380, smashing the previous auction record for a work on paper by the artist* (est. £600,000-800,000).
* Previous auction record for a work on paper by Sir Peter Lely: Head of a woman, colour chalk, sold for £12,650 (£21,353) at Sotheby’s London on 10 July 1997.
Lot 216. Sir Peter Lely (Soest 1618-1680 London), Self-portrait. Black and coloured chalks heightened with white; signed lower right: PLely. fe. on H. (PL in monogram), 386 by 311 mm. Estimate £600,000 — 800,000. Price realised £869,000 / $1,148,644 / €1,022,380. Auction record for a work on paper by the artist. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: By descent within the family of the artist
Exhibted: London, Grosvenor Place, The Reign of Charles II, 1932, no. 346;
London, National Portrait Gallery, 1932;
London, Royal Academy, Winter Exhibition, 1956-57, no. 555;
London, National Portrait Gallery, Sir Peter Lely, 1978, no. 70 (catalogue by O. Millar), illustrated as the frontispiece;
London, British Museum, Drawing in England from Hilliard to Hogarth, 1987, no. 89 (catalogue by L. Stainton and C. White), illustrated as the frontispiece;
New Haven, Yale Centre for British Art, Drawing in England from Hilliard to Hogarth, 1987, no. 89 (catalogue by L. Stainton and C. White), illustrated as the frontispiece;
on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (1989-2016)
Literature: Vertue, 'Notebooks I-VI', Walpole Society, vol. XVIII, 1930, p. 143;
John Woodward, Tudor and Stuart Drawings, London 1951, p. 38;
P. Hulton, 'Sir Peter Lely: Portrait Drawings of his Family', Connoisseur, vol. CLIV, London 1963, pp. 166-70, no. 1
Notes: Sir Peter Lely: Three masterful family portraits
Ever since his own lifetime, Sir Peter Lely has always been considered one of the outstanding artists to have worked in seventeenth century England. After his arrival in London in the early 1640s, he rose rapidly to the top of his profession and by the middle of the 1650s, his contemporaries were describing him as ‘the best artist in England’. 1 Soon after the Restoration, he was appointed Principal Painter to Charles II and his large-scale oil paintings seem to chronicle the sumptuous world of the King’s famously pleasure-seeking court.
However, alongside producing these celebrated canvases, Lely was also a marvellous draughtsman and these three portraits are fascinating examples of this less widely known aspect of his oeuvre. They belong to a highly-prized but small group of finished portrait drawings that Lely made as independent works of art and that Roger North, Lely’s friend and executor, described as ‘craions’ housed ‘in ebony frames’.
These finished drawings, of which the self-portrait must be considered the greatest example, illustrate that Lely was a draughtsman of such exceptional sophistication and technical virtuosity, that he not only surpassed his London-based contemporaries, but also deserves to be seen in an international context, as one of the great draughtsmen of his age.
The three portraits were made between circa 1655 and 1680, during one of the most turbulent periods in English history, which saw the collapse of the Commonwealth, the restoration of the Monarchy, three Anglo-Dutch Wars, the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London. Drawn by Sir Peter for himself and to be enjoyed by his family within their own home, the works are of great intimacy and importance.
Their provenance is equally remarkable, as all three drawings have remained in the possession of the artist’s direct descendants until this day.
1. R. B. Beckett, Lely, London 1951, p. 12
Sir Peter Lely: the artist and the man
Pieter van der Faes, known as Peter Lely, was born of Dutch parents in 1618 in the garrison town of Soest, Westphalia. His father took on the name ‘Lely’, as the house in which they lived bore the device of a lily on its gable. By 1637 he was apprenticed in the studio of Frans Pieterz de Grebber (1573-1649) in Haarlem, an important artistic centre at the time, where he spent at least two years.
Lely moved to England sometime between 1641 and 1643. Initially, according to his early biographer Bainbrigg Buckeridge (1668-1733), he ‘followed the natural bent of his genius and painted “landskip” with small figures, as likewise historical compositions, but at length finding face painting more encouraged here he turned his study that way, within, in a short time, he succeeded so well that he surpassed all his contemporaries’.1
He may well have also been encouraged to pursue portraiture in that Van Dyck, during his nine years in England up to his death in 1641, had greatly strengthened the fashion for that genre. Despite the turmoil of the Civil War, the potential for patronage amongst the English elite may have appeared tempting.
He lodged at first in London with the artist-dealer George Geldorp, who was able to initiate some powerful connections and by the mid 1640s he had undertaken commissions for families including the Percys, Cecils and Sidneys.
Throughout the Civil War patronage appears to have continued on both sides of the political divide and Lely continued to build his reputation. In 1647 he was made a freeman of the London Painter-Stainers Company, thereby freeing him from the restrictions imposed on previous Netherlandish artists and enabling him to take on apprentices. In the same year the Earl of Northumberland commissioned him, as Van Dyck’s natural successor, to paint a double portrait of the King and his brother the Duke of York.
After Charles I’s death in 1649 and from the beginning of eleven years of Parliamentarian rule under Cromwell, Lely continued to prosper. In 1654, he painted Oliver Cromwell, who famously insisted on a true representation, including ‘pimples, warts and everything as you see [in] me’, together with many other figures in the Protector’s close circle.2
Meanwhile, Lely kept in touch with the exiled Charles II’s court in Holland and visited that country in 1656 with his friend, the royalist architect Hugh May. Following the Restoration in 1660, as one of the most sought-after portraitists in London, he was made official court painter with a substantial annual pension. Throughout this decade he painted many leading figures of the period, including the celebrated twelve aristocratic ladies, known as ‘The Windsor Beauties’, commissioned by the Duchess of York, and the ‘Flagmen series’, commissioned by her husband the Duke, depicting the great admirals who had defeated the Dutch at the Battle of Lowestoft in 1665.
In 1666 Samuel Pepys commented, when visiting Lely with his friend Sir William Penn, that he was ‘so full of work… that he could only give Sir William a sitting six days ahead, between seven and eight in the morning’.3 Such pressure of work resulted in the need to increase considerably the number of assistants in his studio. However, throughout the next decade, he himself continued to undertake and complete important commissions, including one of Charles’ mistress Nell Gwyn in the guise of Venus and another of Mary of Modena, future wife of James II of England.
Alongside his great success as the leading portrait artist of his generation - comfortably following in the footsteps of his predecessor Van Dyck - Lely was one of the great collectors of prints and drawings. His executor, Roger North catalogued 10,000 objects, many of which are now in the world’s foremost collections. His collection included many drawings by Italian artists, which enabled him, without visiting Italy, to understand better the characteristics of the art of that country. Overall, in the history of collecting, Lely ranks alongside and arguably outstrips, in terms of the sheer quality and consistency of his drawings, subsequent pre-eminent artist-collectors such as Jonathan Richardson, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Benjamin West and Sir Thomas Lawrence.
From 1650 Lely lived and worked in the Grand Piazza of Covent Garden, close to the centre of fashionable London. ‘His studio was carefully designed with light sources coming from a number of angles, while the rest of the house was carefully appointed, perhaps echoing Lely’s awareness of the lavish lodgings Van Dyck had maintained at Blackfriars, adorned with his marvellously rich collection of Old Master and contemporary paintings, drawings and prints before the Civil War.’4
He was evidently of affable nature and a good host; as Pepys noted in his diary, ‘he lives very gently and treated us nobly at a Dinner’. 5 Charles II once remarked that he ‘would often times take great pleasure in his [Lely’s], conversation, which he found to be as agreeable as his pencil’. 6
Peter Lely was knighted in 1680 and died later the same year with a confirmed reputation as ‘an artist of outstanding invention and skill, both a chronicler of his age and a painter who could transport those who viewed his works to paradisiacal realms of dream and imagination’. 7
1. Bainbrigg Buckeridge, writing in Roger de Piles’s The Art of Painting and the Lives of the Painters, (1706) cited in: Peter Lely, A Lyrical Vision, exhibition catalogue, London, Courtauld Gallery, 2012, p. 34
2. Ibid, p. 21
3. R.B. Beckett, Lely, London 1951, p. 18
4. Peter Lely, A Lyrical Vision, op. cit., p. 22
5. O. Millar, Sir Peter Lely 1618-80, exhibition catalogue, London National Portrait Gallery, 1978, p. 15
6. Peter Lely, A Lyrical Vision, op. cit., p. 39
7. Ibid, p. 24
This portrait, with its grand scale, its sophisticated techniques and subtle and yet electrifying atmosphere, is one of the most powerful and important of all drawings created in 17th century England. It can be appreciated as one of the great highlights of Sir Peter Lely’s long and brilliant career and having always remained in the artist’s family, it is offered for sale for the first time.
Samuel Pepys described Lely as ‘the great painter’1 but he was also regarded as a ‘well-bred gentleman, friendly and free, and not only adept in his art but communicative’.2 These two attributes, his exceptional gift of draughtsmanship and his affable nature, are reflected in this self-portrait, one of only two in existence.3
The artist presents himself as a quietly self-assured young man in his mid to late thirties, leaning against a stone plinth with a classical back-drop. His long natural hair, his doublet and frilled cuffs, together with ornamental cloak indicate that the drawing was made during the second half of the 1650s, towards the end of the Cromwellian era, when arguably Lely was producing his ‘most sympathetic and psychologically interesting portraits’.4
The drawing is an exceptional illustration of Lely’s supreme skill as a draughtsman and combines a wonderfully light touch with a confident rhythm. Feathery stokes of black chalk, interspersed with subtle use of red and yellow chalk, finished off with white chalk highlighting, together produce an extraordinary fluency and softness, particularly in the hair and face. In places the use of sharp chalk-point gives a powerfully contrasting and crisp effect. The dynamic qualities of this drawing and his mastery of the medium by this stage in his career, is highlighted when the work is compared with his only other surviving self-portrait drawing, executed circa 1641, which is tentative and formulaic by contrast. (fig. 1)
fig. 1. Lely, Self-Portrait, circa 1641 © National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Lely’s working methods and technique appear to have been considered innovative by his contemporaries. In the summer of 1663 the Dutchman, Christiaan Huygens, visited the artist’s studio on several occasions and was particularly impressed by the portrait drawings that he saw. Writing to his brother in Holland, he recorded that Lely favoured ‘pale grey’ paper and limited the ‘use of colour to the face alone, and there only lightly’.5 So great was his interest that Lely directed him to the man who made his crayons and this visit enabled Huygens to record the process in great detail, explaining that the finished colours were ‘easy to write with’ and ‘never become hard’.6
Although Lely’s materials may have seemed novel, the present work can be viewed as part of the wider European tradition of highly finished portrait drawings that, in England, began in the early 16th Century with Holbein’s iconic portraits of the Tudor court. A century later, artists were continuing to make such drawings and a particularly fine example is perhaps Rubens’ portrait of Thomas, 2nd Earl of Arundel, whom he portrayed with such force and charisma in inks and chalks at the end of the 1620s.
Closer still to Lely was Van Dyck, whose influence on European art was universal. Although he largely made drawings in order to clarify the compositions for his paintings, in the late 1620s and early 1630s he too produced a small group of highly worked-up portrait drawings that depicted friends, fellow artists, military leaders and members of Charles I’s court. These works were engraved and the prints - known later as the Icongraphie - were widely distributed. Lely, in general, was influenced by this important series and in the present drawing, the composition, his pose and the overall sense of gravitas, echo those found for instance in Van Dyck’s depictions of Orazio Gentileschi and Hendrick van Steenwijck. (fig. 2)
fig. 2. Anton Van Dyck, Portrait of Hendrick van Steenwijck the Younger © Städel Museum - U. Edelmann – ARTOTHEK
Alongside Van Dyck’s works on paper, Lely may well have had in mind the elder artist’s great oil self-portraits. The famous painting of Van Dyck with a Sunflower was widely known by 1644, through Wenceslaus Hollar’s etching, while Lely is thought himself to have owned Van Dyck’s strikingly confident Self-Portrait (fig. 3), which was painted in 1640 and is now in the National Gallery, London.
fig. 3. Anton Van Dyck, Self-Portrait © National Gallery, London
As a portrait painter, who arrived in England soon after the death of Van Dyck in 1641, Lely’s patrons would have been constantly judging him against the achievements of the Flemish master. By the middle of the 1650s, Lely was generally acknowledged to be the ‘best artist in England’,7 and in many respects this self-portrait shows that he both accepted and deserved this flattering accolade. However, despite his great success on the national stage, the drawing, with its virtuosity, confidence and sheer presence, demonstrates that Lely saw himself as part of the international artistic community and that he was determined to challenge himself to compete not only with the greatest European artists of his own day but also with those that had come before.
1. O. Millar, Sir Peter Lely 1618-80, London 1978, p. 17
2. Ibid, p. 22
3. Three self-portraits painted in oil also survive; one dates to circa 1661 and is now in the National Gallery, London, another: Self-portrait with Hugh May was painted incirca 1675 and is in the collection at Audley End House, Essex and the last is in the Uffizi Museum, Florence, having been acquired by Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in 1706.
4. Peter Lely, A Lyrical Vision, exhibition catalogue, London, Courtauld Gallery, 2012, p. 56
5. C. Eilser, ‘Apparatus and Grandeur: Five Portrait Drawings from Clarendon’s ‘History’’, Master Drawings, vol. 6, no. 2 (1962), p. 150
7. R.B. Beckett, Lely, London 1951, p. 12
OLD MASTER SCULPTURE & WORKS OF ART (5 July)
Total: £2,915,375 / $3,853,543 / €3,429,945
Top Lot: Bust of a Nobleman, possibly Ludwig V., Elector Palatine, Southern German, probably Augsburg, circa 1520-1535, sold for £629,000 / $831,412 / €740,020 (Est. £100,000-150,000).
This virtuoso wood bust of a nobleman is a remarkable survival from Renaissance Germany, exceptional in being among only a handful of German portrait busts from the early 16th century that have defied the ravages of time. Originating in a Southern German artistic centre, probably Augsburg, during the 1520s or early 1530s, the portrait is particularly rare in bearing a compelling likeness to one of the foremost Southern German rulers from this period, Ludwig V., Elector Palatine.
Lot 41. Southern German, probably Augsburg, circa 1520-1535, Bust of a nobleman, possibly Ludwig V., Elector Palatine, wood, 21.5cm., 8½in. Estimate 100,000 — 150,000 GBP. Lot sold £629,000 / $831,412 / €740,020. Photo Sotheby's.