NEW YORK, NY.- An exceptional selection of European paintings, spanning from the 14th to the 19th centuries will be offered in Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Master Paintings on 1 February 2018 in New York. Highlighting the annual Masters Week sale series, the Evening Sale exhibition will be on public view in Sotheby’s New York galleries beginning 26 January.
The February sale features a rare and striking portrait of Cristoforo Segni, Maggiordomo to Pope Innocent X, painted and signed by Velazquez and Cremonese painter Pietro Martire Neri Martire (estimate $3/4 million). Painted around 1650, during Velazquez’s second trip to Rome, the work is one of a series of portraits painted for the Court of Pope Innocent X on the occasion of his Jubilee, the most famous being Portrait of Innocent X (1650, Galleria Doria Pamphilij). Having remained hidden in the present collection since the mid-20th century, the painting was recently featured in a dedicated exhibition to Velazquez at the Grand Palais, Paris in 2015. Velazquez’s highly expressive and distinctive brushwork is clearly evident in areas of the canvas, in particular the head of the sitter.
Lot 48. Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (Seville 1599 - 1660 Madrid) and Pietro Martire Neri (Cremona 1601 - 1661), Portrait of Cristoforo Segni, Maggiordomo to Pope Innocent X, inscribed on the letter: Alla Sant.[i]ta di N[ost]ro Sig[no]re / Innocenzio Xo / Monsre Maggiordomo / ne parti a S[ua] S[anti]ta / Per / and signed, or bears signature: Dieg[?]o d. Silva Velasqu[ez] / [and in a different hand:] e Pietro Martire Neri, oil on canvas, 44 7/8 by 36 1/4 in.; 114 x 92 cm. Estimate 3,000,000 — 4,000,000 USD. Lot sold 4,066,600 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: Private collection, Bologna;
Don José de Salamanca y Mayol, Marqués de Salamanca and 1st Conde de Llanos (1811–83);
His sale (Galerie Salamanca), Paris, Hôtel Salamanca, Rue de la Victoire, 50, Pillet, Le Roy and Febvre, 3–6 June 1867, lot 37, unsold at 16,200 Francs (as Velázquez); Salamanca Collection sale, Paris, Hotel Drouot, Pillet and Haro, 25–26 January 1875, lot 35, for 19,300 Francs, to Luisa Gonzalés (as Velázquez);
Luisa Gonzalés (1847–1924), wife of Auguste Dreyfus (1827–97), Hôtel Dreyfus, 3 avenue Ruysdaël, Paris;
His sale, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 29 May 1889, lot 115, for 5,600 francs (as Velázquez), where probably unsold;
Thence probably by family descent to Anne de Talleyrand Périgord, Duchess de Premio Real, self-styled Duchess of Dreyfus-Gonzalez (1877-1945), Paris, by 1936;
Probably acquired from the above, or from her heirs, by the father of the present owner in Paris, 1958.
Exhibited: Madrid, Casón del Buen Retiro, Velázquez y lo Velazqueño, 10 December 1960 – 23 February 1961, no. 103 (as Velázquez and Neri);
Paris, Grand Palais, Velázquez, 25 March – 13 July 2015, no. 77.
C.B. Curtis, Velazquez and Murillo: A Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of the Works of Don Diego de Silva Velazquez and Bartolomé Estéban Murillo, London and New York 1883, no. 156, p. 66 (as Velázquez);
G.C. Cruzada Villaamil, Anales de la vida y de las obras de Diego de Silva y Velázquez, escritos con ayuda de nuevos documentos, Madrid 1885, p. 322, no. 137 (as Velázquez);
C. Justi, Diego de Velazquez und sein Jahrhundert, Bonn 1888, voI I, pp. 192–93, note 1 (as Velázquez and Neri);
A.L. Mayer, Diego Velazquez, Berlin 1924, pp. 147–48 (as Velázquez);
A.L. Mayer, ‘Pietro Martine Negri, ein italienischer Nachahmer des Velazquez’, in Belvedere, September 1928, Vol. XIII, pp. 60–63, reproduced (as Neri perhaps after Velázquez);
H. Voss, ‘Zur Kritik des Velázquez-Werkes’, in Jahrbuch der Preußischen Kunstsammlungen, vol. 53, 1932, pp. 49–51, reproduced on p. 49 fig. 6 (as Velázquez and Neri);
E. Lafuente Ferrari, ‘En torno a Velázquez: un artículo de Hermann Voss’, in Archivo Español de Arte, 22, 1932, pp. 268–70 (as Velázquez and Neri);
A.L. Mayer, Velazquez: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Pictures and Drawings, London 1936, p. 100, no. 426, reproduced plate 141 (as Neri for the greater part; at best begun by Velázquez);
B. de Pantorba, La vida y la obra de Velazquez: Estudio biográfico y crítico, Madrid 1955, pp. 236–37, no. 172, reproduced (as Velázquez and Neri);
H. Voss, ‘Über das bildnis der Maggiordomo Segni von Velázquez’, in Varia velazqueña. Estudios sobre Velazquez y su obra, Madrid 1960, vol. I, pp. 335–38, vol. II, reproduced plates 103–105 (as Velázquez);
J. López-Rey, Velázquez. A Catalogue Raisonné of his Œuvre, London 1963, pp. 283–84, cat. no. 474, reproduced plates 364 and 365 (as by Neri after Velázquez);
A.E. Pérez Sánchez, Pintura italiana del s. XVII en España, Madrid 1965, p. 357 (as Velázquez and Neri);
M. Bardi, L’opera completa di Velázquez, Milan 1969, pp. 110–11, no. 140 (as attributed to Velázquez);
J. López-Rey, Velazquez. The Artist as a Maker, Lausanne and Paris 1979, pp. 113–14, reproduced plate 39 (as Neri, presumably after a lost sketch by Velázquez);
E. Harris, Velazquez, Oxford 1982, pp. 151–52, reproduced p. 152, plate 155 (as copy by Neri of a lost original by Velázquez);
R. Barbiellini Amidei, ‘L’iconografia pamphiliana. Notizie dei ritratti di Papa Innocenzo X’, in S. Alloisi ed., Imago Pietatis 1650. I Pamphilj a San Martino al Cimino, exhibition catalogue, Rome 1987, p. 100 (as Neri after a lost sketch by Velázquez);
D. Ortiz, A. E. Pérez Sánchez, J. Gallego (eds), Velázquez, exhibition catalogue, New York 1989, p. 236 (as a disputed work by Velázquez);
O. Melasecchi, ‘Pietro Martire Neri ritrattista cremonese nella Roma di Innocenzo X’, in Innocenzo X Pamphilj: Arte e potere a Roma nell’età barocca, A. Zuccari and S. Macioce (ed.), Rome 1990, pp. 184–85, reproduced on pp. 183–84, figs 6–7 (as begun by Velázquez and completed by Neri);
J. López-Rey, Velázquez. Painter of Painters, 2 vols, Cologne 1996, vol. I, p. 176 (as Neri, presumably after a sketch by the Master that has not been preserved);
S. Salort Pons, Velázquez en Italia, Madrid 2002, p. 233, pp. 370–73, no. 24, reproduced in colour on p. 233, plate 197, and on p. 371 (as Neri and Velázquez?);
F. Petrucci, Pittura di Ritratto a Roma. Il Seicento, Rome 2007, vol. III, reproduced p. 700, fig. 558 (as Neri);
J.M. Cruz Valdovinos, Velázquez: vida y obra de un pintor cortesano, Zaragoza 2011, p. 291, reproduced on p. 292 (as Neri);
M. Tanzi, Pietro Martire Neri: Celebratory Portrait of Ancislao Gambara, Paris 2011, p. 9, p. 11, reproduced fig. 4 (as Neri [and Velázquez?]);
V. Damian, in La Vierge enfant de Francisco de Zurbarán, Trois portraits par Simon Vouet, Pietro Martire Neri et Angelika Kauffmann, Tableaux Bolonais, Vénitiens et Napolitains du XVIe et XVIIe siècle, exh. cat., Galerie Canesso, Paris 2014, pp. 50–51, reproduced on p. 50, fig. 1 (as Pietro Martire Neri [and Diego Velázquez?]);
G. Kientz, Velázquez, L’affrontement de la peinture, Paris 2015, pp. 262–77 and p. 365 (as Velázquez and Neri);
G. Kientz in Velázquez, exhibition catalogue, Grand Palais, Paris, 2015, p. 26, p. 258, pp. 264–66, p. 344, no. 77, reproduced on p. 265 (as Velázquez and Neri).
Note: This striking portrait of Cristoforo Segni, Maggiordomo to Pope Innocent X from 1645 to 1653, was painted by Velázquez during the artist’s second trip to Rome, around 1650. Parts of the painting were executed by the Cremonese painter Pietro Martire Neri, who according to Antonio Palomino worked alongside Velázquez during his second sojourn in the Eternal City. The painting has only recently emerged from obscurity, for inclusion in the recent exhibition dedicated to Velázquez at the Grand Palais, Paris, having remained hidden in the present collection since the mid-twentieth century. During the second half of the nineteenth century it formed part of the illustrious collections assembled by the Marqués de Salamanca in Madrid, who owned several works by the great Sevillian master and whose collection was dispersed at auctions in Paris during the 1860s and 1870s.
In his celebrated Museo Optico of 1725 the biographer and painter Palomino recorded that Velázquez painted the Majordomo to Pope Innocent X, and it was Cruzada Villaamil in 1885 who first established the clear link between Palomino’s reference and the present work. As Maggiordomo to His Holiness Pope Innocent X, Cristoforo Segni was a high-ranking member of the clergy appointed by the Pope to oversee the apostolic palaces. Segni was one of the first members of the Pope’s entourage with whom Velázquez came into contact, for as recorded by Palomino, the artist stayed at Segni’s family house in Bologna in 1649 during his journey to Rome. Segni was also a patron of the sculptor Alessandro Algardi, from whom Velázquez had commissioned works on behalf of Philip IV, and as such the two had various matters in common.
Velázquez had come to Rome in May 1649, bearing paintings as gifts for Innocent X on the occasion of his Jubilee, which began on the 25 December 1649.1 This was his second visit to Italy, following an earlier trip in 1629-31. He reached Rome via Genoa, Milan, Venice and Florence, but once in the Eternal City his stay was interrupted only by visits to Naples and Gaeta in June-July 1649 and again in March 1650. He did not leave again for Madrid until 1651, but his work in Rome in that year was probably confined only to official business. There is no doubt that this short period represents the first unquestioned highpoint of his art, when his creativity and sheer technical virtuosity reached new peaks. The exact chronology of Velázquez’s Roman portraits is not known for certain, but they were presumably all painted in a very short period between his arrival in May 1649 and November 1650. If we are to believe his biographer Palomino, his first work was a portrait of his mulatto servant Juan de Pareja (New York, Metropolitan Museum, fig. 1). Perhaps, as Palomino suggests, this was intended as an exercise in portraiture from the life in a city where his work was almost unknown.2 In any event this magnificent likeness, with its astonishing intensity of expression and bravura yet restrained technique caused universal admiration when exhibited at the Pantheon in 1650. Whether from the success of this work or more likely from the access Velázquez had to the Papal court as a result of his position as painter to the King of Spain, it was soon followed by his portrait of Pope Innocent X himself (Rome, Galleria Doria Pamphilij, fig. 2). This was presumably Velázquez’s first ‘official’ commission in Rome, and may have been commissioned by the King himself. This exceptional masterpiece won universal admiration – even the Pontiff himself admitted that the piercing likeness was almost “too truthful”. Sir Joshua Reynolds writing over a century later would describe it as “one of the first portraits in the world” and its position as one of the greatest evocations of position and personality ever achieved remains as true to this day as it was then. Although its design was firmly in a tradition going back through Titian to Raphael, in particular the former’s Portrait of Pope Paul III of 1543 (Naples, Gallerie Nazionale, Capodimonte), its strength and immediacy is won by its remarkable chromatic brilliance, achieved by a subtle range of harmonised crimsons and reds, offset by a brilliant creamy white. Both portraits are said to have been mistaken in real life for their sitters, but while this is no doubt apocryphal, they clearly impressed his contemporaries sufficiently to win Velázquez admission both to the Accademia di San Lucca in January 1650 and subsequently the Congregazione dei Virtuosi in the Pantheon. To this day they remain without doubt among his very greatest works. If one were to add to them the celebrated Toilet of Venus (London, National Gallery, fig. 3), better known as the ‘Rokeby’ Venus after a later owner, which some critics also believe to have been painted while Velázquez was in Rome rather than just prior to his stay there, then it would be quite reasonable to claim these as the most remarkable and important years of the painter’s career.3 As it was, Velázquez had few if any rivals as a court portraitist in Rome at the time of the Papal jubilee. His greatest contemporaries in terms of portraiture were both sculptors – Gianlorenzo Bernini and Alessandro Algardi – and within a short while he enjoyed enormous respect and prestige and his assimilation into the artistic life of the city Rome was complete.
fig. 1. Velázquez, Portrait of Juan de Pareja, 1649, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
fig. 2. Velázquez, Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1960, Rome, Galleria Doria Pamphilij.
fig. 3. Velázquez, Toilet of Venus, London, National Gallery.
This portrait of Cristoforo Segni belongs to a small group of likenesses of sitters drawn from the ranks of the papal court that no doubt followed on from the success of the portrait of Innocent himself. These include those of the Pope’s adopted nephew Cardinal Camillo Astalli, known as Cardinal Pamphilij (New York, Hispanic Society of America, fig. 4) and Monsignor Camillo Massimi (National Trust, Bankes Collection, Kingston Lacy, fig. 5). Cardinal Astalli’s portrait can be dated to shortly after September 1650, when he was raised to the purple. Like Segni, the papal Chamberlain Massimi was a friend of the artist, and a man of considerable learning as well as a collector, who would eventually come to own no less than six works by Velázquez himself.4 The stylistic and compositional parallels between these works and that of the Pope are quite clear. The design of Segni’s portrait is clearly indebted, albeit in reverse, to that of Innocent X, with the sitter seated in a chair and holding a letter. In terms of colour and handling, and indeed character, the portrait comes closer to those of Cardinal Pamphilij and to that of Massimi in particular. Velázquez’s portrayal of the heads of these two far from handsome men is immediately striking. Their black birettas and blue camariere segreti are set off against a dull crimson chair adorned with gold braid, enlivened with the sharp contrast with the white of collar or sleeves. Their features are constructed with no outline or drawing, and through colour alone Velázquez creates the impression of keen and intelligent men, whose gaze is piercing yet still friendly. Though none of these works ever quite matched the sheer brilliance of Juan de Pareja or Innocent X, they remain eloquent testament to Velázquez’s newfound maturity and complete mastery of style.
fig. 4. Velázquez, Portrait of Cardinal Camillo Astalli, New York, Hispanic Society of America.
fig. 5. Velázquez, Portrait of Monsignor Camillo Massimi, © National Trust Images/Derrick E. Witty.
Aside from his own workshop activities in Madrid, Velázquez is not known to have ever collaborated with another artist. Palomino named only Velázquez as the painter of Segni’s portrait, and the sitter holds in his right hand a letter indicating Velázquez’s authorship including a signature in the shadow of the sitter’s thumb. Squeezed below it, in a space not obviously intended for inscription and seemingly as an afterthought, Neri’s name is also inscribed. The genesis of the commission is not known, but leading scholars think it likely that the work was conceived entirely by Velázquez with the composition and figure of Segni mapped out by him. Velázquez is certainly responsible for the execution of the head of the Maggiordomo; the painterly modelling and characterful expression also strongly indicating that it was painted dal vivo. It seems possible that the portrait was left unfinished on Velázquez’s departure from Rome, requiring its completion by another artist (in this case one that had a close association with Velázquez), rather than having been planned from the start as a work by both painters. The first time that the names of the two painters are mentioned together is when they both attended a meeting of the congregation of the Virtuosi al Pantheon that took place on 9 March 1650. This was a society founded in Rome in the sixteenth century, whose artist members – the virtuosi – were painters, sculptors and architects. Their aim was to carry out charitable works and promote the fine arts to the glory of the faith. Velázquez is recorded as participating in the congregation’s meetings since 22 February of that year. Relatively little is known even about the life of Pietro Martire Neri. A pupil of Malosso in his native Cremona, he spent a period of nearly two decades in Mantua, where he came under the influence of Domenico Fetti (1589-1623), before finally leaving for Rome. He was possibly briefly in Rome around 1629 and is then documented there between 1647 and his death in 1661. Giuseppe Bresciani, in his La virtù ravvivata de Cremonesi insigni pittori, ingegneri &c… of 1665, is the first to document his association with the Spanish painter. The precise nature of his relationship and of his work with Velázquez is unclear.
The four painted portraits by Neri now known are all closely dependent upon Velázquez’s of Innocent X and certainly the present work echoes the overall mise-en-scène of the Doria Pamphilj painting, although the conventional pose does not necessarily confirm the primacy of one or the other. Copies of the latter by Neri survive in the collection of the Marquess of Bute at Mount Stuart House in Scotland5 and in the Escorial in Madrid, where the same figure is shown full-length with an attendant cleric (fig. 6).6 The prelate in the latter has tentatively been identified as Monsignor Pietro Vidoni (1610-1681) on the basis of an engraving after Neri of him as a Cardinal in 1660. Vidoni had been summoned to Rome by Innocent X in 1652 before being appointed papal nuncio in Poland, and this portrait may therefore date to this time as well as suggesting that Vidoni himself commissioned the copy. A third copy by Neri, signed and inscribed, was sold London, Christie’s, 9 December 1989, lot 119 (fig. 7). These copies remain the sole evidence we have of Neri’s relationship with Velázquez. The recent attribution of a Portrait of Velázquez in Paris, where the painter is shown with a palette and brush and wearing the robes of the Order of Santiago (to which Velázquez was appointed in 1659) and which is clearly dependent upon the latter’s self-portrait in his celebrated canvas of Las Meninas of 1656 (Madrid, Museo del Prado) seems to be in a looser style than in his signed works and must await further study.7
fig. 6. Pietro Martire Neri, Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Madrid, El Escorial.
fig. 7. Pietro Martire Neri, Portrait of Pope Innocent X, after Velázquez, present whereabouts unknown.
The precise extent of Velázquez’s involvement in this portrait has been the subject of debate among scholars over the years. Justi praised the quality of the head, while considering the remainder of the portrait to be by Neri, an assessment broadly supported by Mayer, who also accepted the signature as being that of Velázquez. Voss believed the work to be by Velázquez, in particular the head, the inscription and the overall composition, inspired by his celebrated portrait of Pope Innocent X. When exhibited at the Casón del Buen Retiro in 1960–61, the author of the exhibition catalogue suggested the painting was begun by Velázquez and retouched by Neri, who added his name at the bottom of the letter in the sitter’s hand. Harris, however, considered the work to be entirely by Neri: either the painting recorded by Palomino, or after a lost original by Velázquez (although it is unclear as to whether she saw it in the original). López-Rey took a broadly similar view, ascribing the painting in its entirety to Neri, and believing it to be a copy after a lost sketch by the master.
Following the inclusion of the painting in the exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris, in 2015, the overwhelming consensus amongst scholars today, including Dr. William B. Jordan and Guillaume Kientz, is in support of the authorship by Velázquez and Neri, endorsing opinions previously expressed by Salvator Salort Pons and the late Alfonso Pérez Sánchez. Velázquez’s highly expressive and distinctive brushwork is clearly evident in the head of the sitter. It seems plausible he also painted the collar and some scholars have speculated whether, in addition, he may have painted at least part of the sleeves, while the rest of the costume, the hat, the hands, the chair and curtain7 were probably added or worked up by Neri. The distinctive and fluid rendering of the whites of the sleeves in the painting would certainly seem to reflect the influence of painters such as Domenico Fetti, with whom Neri seems to have been associated during his years in Mantua, and suggest that these parts were in all probability largely by him.
A note on the provenance
During the mid-nineteenth century the painting belonged to the distinguished collection of the Marqués de Salamanca (1811-1883) (fig. 8). A highly successful businessman and financier the Marqués became the Spanish Minister of Finance in 1847. A passionate collector and patron of the arts, he assembled one of the finest private collections of paintings in Spain, which he kept at his newly built mansion, the Palacio de Recoletos in Madrid (fig. 9). First opened to the public in 1858, the paintings collection was largely composed of works from the seventeenth century, principally drawn from the Spanish, Italian Dutch and Flemish schools. These included works by or attributed to Raphael, Reni, Correggio and Mantegna, among them the latter’s Saint Mark today in the Städel in Frankfurt-am-Main. Alongside the Velázquez, his notable Spanish works included Murillo’ series of the Prodigal Son (Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland) as well as Zurbarán’s Annunciation (1650, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art), and no less than eight paintings by Goya, including the Bullfight of 1808-12 which he purchased directly from the artist’s son Javier (New York, Metropolitan Museum). The Dutch and Flemish pictures numbered works by or attributed to Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Van Dyck, Teniers and de Hooch, including Rubens’s Wrath of Achilles and Death of Achilles today in the Courtauld Institute in London. His collection of antiquities were housed in the Palacio de Vista Alegre which he acquired in 1859, and the collection of Roman sculpture and Greek and Etruscan objects was later bought en bloc by the Museo Arqueológico Nacional in Madrid. His paintings collection was largely dispersed at auction after he ran into financial difficulties in the 1860s. The Portrait of Cristoforo Segni was included in his first sale in Paris in 1867, when it remained unsold, but was subsequently acquired in his second auction at the Hôtel Drouot in 1875 by Luisa Gonzaléz. A nineteenth-century copy after the painting exists today in a French private collection;8 the copy includes the double signature and seems likely to have been executed at the time of the great Salamanca sales.
fig. 8. José Marqués de Salamanca.
fig. 9. Madrid, The Salamanca Palace.
At the time of his 1924 monograph, August Mayer stated that this painting was in a Parisian private collection. Twelve years later the same author named the owner of the painting as the Duchesse de Dreyfus-Gonzales [sic]. The most likely identification for the Duchess would be Anne de Talleyrand Périgord, Duchess de Premio Real (1877-1945), the wife of Auguste Dreyfus's second son Edouard Dreyfus-Gonzalez, Duke of Premio Real (1846-1941). It is possible that the painting went unsold at the Dreyfus sale of 1889 and remained in the Dreyfus-Gonzalez collection until it is recorded there in the 1930s. It is not amongst the paintings sold from the Dreyfus-Gonzalez collection in Paris on the 8th June 1896. At the time of the Madrid exhibition of 1960/61 it was said that the lender had recently acquired the picture from the Duchess de Dreyfus-Gonzalez which may indicate that it remained in the possession of the family until that time, perhaps in the collection of the Duchesses sister Félicie de Talleyrand Perigord, Marquise de Villahermosa (1878-1981). López-Rey (see Literature) cites a specific date of the 3 March 1958 as the point of sale, but if this were an auction then no catalogue of it has yet been found.
1. There is no indication whether these included any of his own works.
2. An exception would be his Portrait of the Count Duke of Olivares painted in Madrid for Cardinal Barberini in 1624.
3. His own portrait, that of Donna Olimpia, and portraits of the Spanish King and Queen and the two Infantas, the last three probably acquired when he was Papal Nuncio in Madrid between 1654 and 1658.
4. J. Lopez-Rey, Velázquez. A catalogue raisonne of his Oeuvre, 1963, p. 274, no. 44, reproduced plate 363.
5. J. Lopez-Rey, 1963, p. 272, no. 445, plate 361.
6. Exhibited Paris 2015, no. 114, as with Galerie Canesso, Paris.
7. The curtain has suffered damage in the past, perhaps during an earlier campaign of restoration, and this area has now been partially reconstructed during recent restoration.
8. Salort Pons 2002, reproduced in colour on p. 373, plate 1.
A Wooded River Landscape with a Landing Stage, Boats, Various Figures and Village Beyond is a stunning work by 17th-century Flemish master Jan Bruegel the Elder, and stands as one of the finest river landscapes by the artist in private hands (estimate $2.5/3.5 million). A primary example of his work on copper, the painting’s vibrant colors, intact glazes and thick impasto are evidence of its remarkable condition, and its meticulous attention to detail further contributes to the captivating jewel-like effect so prized in works by the major Flemish master.
Lot 40. Jan Brueghel the Elder (Brussels 1568 - 1625 Antwerpt), A Wooded River Landscape with a Landing Stage, Boats, Various Figures and Village Beyond, signed and dated lower left: BRVEGHEL 1614, oil on copper, 10 1/4 by 14 5/8 in.; 25.9 by 37 cm. Estimate 2,500,000 — 3,500,000 USD. Unsold. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: Le Fouleur;
Marquis de Saint-Cloud;
His deceased sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 30 March 1885, lot 8 (as L'Arrivée à la kermesse);
Joseph Altounian (1890-1954);
Thence by descent in the family;
From whom acquired by the present collector, circa 2000.
Note: Signed and dated 1614, this exquisite river landscape on copper is one of the finest works by Jan Brueghel the Elder left in private hands. Hitherto unpublished, it is also one of the most important rediscoveries to be added to the artist's oeuvre in recent years. The painting’s vibrant colors, intact glazes, and thick impasto are evidence of its remarkable condition, and a meticulous attention to detail coupled with a lightness of touch and unwavering confidence further contributes to the captivating jewel-like effect so prized in works by this major Flemish master.
From a slightly elevated viewpoint, Brueghel opens a window onto early seventeenth century Flemish life, particularly the daily life of a village settled on the edge of a river on a clear, crisp, summer’s day. The left half of the composition is dominated by an expansive waterway that pulls the eye into the depths of the landscape, from the jetty in the foreground, along the tree lined shore, to the faint outlines of ships on the distant horizon. Here, the water seamlessly blends into a light blue sky with feathered white clouds and a golden yellow sun. On the right half, balancing out the seemingly mirrored tranquility of the river and sky, is a bustling shoreline and landing site filled with colorful figures, animals, and remarkably drawn boats. Beyond and through the trees at right appears a quiet village with houses, wooden sheds, horse drawn carts, and, in the distance, the steeple of a church.
What adds another degree of grandeur to this multi-figure composition is the attention with which Brueghel has observed and captured not only the natural world around him, but also the minutia of the everyday. A few ducks with orange bills paddle around the shallow waters of the near foreground, their movement forming faint puddles around them. Two children in the boat nearby lean over the edge to observe a woman dipping a white cloth into the cool water. A gentleman in the same boat uses a steering pole to steady a another vessel in the shallows while a mother passes her child to another woman on board the already rather full boat. Two farmers relax with a basket of produce in the shade at right, as additional onlookers of various ages gather on shore beneath a line of lush trees awaiting the next vessel to carry them down the river. Saddled horses appear in two of the other boats, suggesting that the desired destination on the river is perhaps a kermesseor a festive gathering, to and from which the villagers may be traveling.
Towards the end of the sixteenth century Brueghel began to explore the theme of vast open seascapes near a shoreline as exemplified in a small oil on copper dated to circa 1592 in a private collection.1 By the first decade of the next century, however, he turned towards the more intimate river landscapes that employed an orthogonal body of water to order the rural scene by pulling the viewer’s eye to a vanishing point in the distance. This technique was first introduced by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Jan’s father, in his famous river landscape drawing of about 1556 now in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin.2 Jan’s familiarity with his father’s drawing, as well as this compositional device, is recorded both in a copy he made after his father’s work as well as in a comparable drawing of about 1600 in the Musée du Louvre, Paris.3 What is revolutionary about the present composition, however, is the way that Brueghel uses not only the river orthogonal but also introduces the steep diagonal of the shoreline to create a more realistic sense of space and depth that runs from right to left
The river landscape subject proved popular among Jan Brueghel’s clientele on copper and panel, particularly during the second decade of the seventeenth century. Unlike his brother Pieter Brueghel the Younger who responded to the popular demand by producing copies of his own works, Jan Brueghel the Elder approached each river landscape independently, always making variations to his compositions so that rarely any two were exactly alike. An early forerunner to the present painting is found in a copper datable to around 1604 in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes (fig. 1).4 While the two are related in terms of composition, the present painting, completed over a decade after, is more sophisticated in handling, particularly in the rendering of depth within the picture plane as there is a seamless transition foreground, to middleground, to background.
fig. 1. Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625), The Embarkation, oil on canvas, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes, France/ Bridgeman Images
This painting can be more securely placed among a number of outstanding river landscapes by the artist signed and dated to the 1610s, nearly all of which are today in museums. A notable comparison can first be drawn between the present work and a river landscape of 1612 in the Indianapolis Museum of Art (fig. 2).5 Although it does not include the figures and boats in the right foreground, the Indianapolis example shares a near identical rendering of perspective, landscape, ships, and the village on the shore at right. Another correlation can be made with a copper dated 1615 in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich (fig. 3), in which Brueghel seems to capture the same village, but has pulled back slightly to capture more of the jetty and place a stronger emphasis on the foreground while still preserving the soft receding river at left.6 There is a clear progression from the Indianapolis to the Munich example, the present work seeming to serving as a midpoint between the two, and at the same time serving to add another layer of understanding to the way that the artist worked through the intricacies of his compositional types and variations. These aforementioned works are all oriented with water at left and land at right, but the present work can also closely be compared in handling, theme, size, and date to two other paintings of reversed compositional orientation that depict a river landscape with a self portrait of the artist. The first, also dated 1614, is on panel and can be found in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (fig. 4),7 while the second, dated 1616, is a copper sold at Sotheby's London on 9 July 2008, lot 19, for £3,513,250.8
fig. 2. Jan Brueghel the Elder (Flemish, 1568-1625), River Landscape, oil on panel, 15 x 24 in., The Clowes Collection.
fig. 3. Jan Breughel the Elder, Landscape, 1615, Alte Pinakothek, Munich.
fig. 4. Jan Breughel the Elder. Kirchweih in Schelle, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Gemäldegalerie.
This lot is accompanied by a certificate from Dr. Klaus Ertz dated 19 October 2017 confirming that this is an autograph work by Jan Brueghel the Elder and characteristic of the artist's output from 1614.
A Note on the Provenance:
This painting once formed part of the collection of the famed antique dealer, Joseph Altounian who lived from 1890-1954. In 1906 he established Altounian-Lorbet Antiquaires in Paris, and from about 1910-1940 he specialized in the sale of Egyptian and Greek antiquities, sculpture, and decorative arts. The painting then descended in his family until around early 2000, when it was acquired by the present owner.
1. See K. Ertz and C. Nitze Ertz, Jan Brueghel der Ältere, Lingen 2008, vol. I, p. 231, cat. no. 100, reproduced p. 232.
2. ibid., p. 248, reproduced fig. 1.
3. For Jan Brueghel the Elder's copy, see ibid., p. 248, reproduced fig 2; for the comparable version in the Musée du Louvre, see ibid., p. 57, reproduced fig. 4.
4. Inv. no. D.804.1.5.P, copper, 24 by 36 cm. See ibid., pp. 256-258, cat. no. 113.
5. Inv. no. C10011, oil on panel, 38.1 by 60 cm. See ibid., pp. 245-246, cat. no. 107.
6. Inv. no. 4891, oil on copper, 25.8 by 37 cm. See ibid., pp. 250-251, cat. no. 109.
7. Inv. no. 9102, oil on panel, 52 by 90.5 cm. See ibid., pp. 286-289, cat. no. 133.
8. Oil on copper, 25 by 36 cm. See ibid., pp. 284-287, cat. no. 132.
The February auction offers an impressive pair of Venetian views by Canaletto, whose inimitable success in capturing the architecture of 18th-century Venice has made him the undisputed leader of the genre (estimate $3/4 million). Most likely completed in England in the 1740s, the pair offers waterfront views of two of the most recognizable façade in La Serenissima: the Church of the Redentore and the Prisons of San Marco. While there are other known views of the Church of the Redentore by Canaletto, the present view of the Prisons of San Marco is a unique composition for the artist of which no other version is known.
Lot 54. Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto (Venice 1697 - 1768), Venice, the Churches of the Redentore and San Giacomo; Venice, the Prisons and the Bridge of Sighs, Looking Northwest from the Balcony; a pair, both oil on canvas; each: 18 3/8 by 30 1/4 in.; 46.7 by 76.8 cm. Estimate 3,000,000 — 4,000,000 USD. Lot sold 4,179,500 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: Possibly, acquired by Sir Richard Neave, 1st Bt. (1731-1814), Dagnam Park, Essex, possibly directly from the artist in London in the late 1740s, and by descent there until sold before 1891 (presumably the paintings entered for sale by Sheffield H.M. Neave of 39 Bryanston Square, London, at Christie’s, London, June 27, 1885, lots 25 and 26, the first painting described as of ‘The Doge’s Palace’, but both withdrawn before the sale);
G.A.F. Cavendish Bentinck, M.P., P.C., 3 Grafton Street, London, and Brownsea Island;
His deceased sale, London, Christie’s, 11 July 1891, lots 625 and 626, described as ‘The Church of Santa Maria della Salute’ and ‘The Bridge of Sighs’, sold together for 115 gns to Lesser;
With Lesser, Bond Street, London;
By whom sold to Willson Bros., Pall Mall, London;
By whom sold to Mr. later Sir, George Leon, Bt., 48 Brompton Square, London;
With Savile Gallery, London, 1928;
By whom sold to Mark Oliver;
With Arthur Tooth & Sons, 31 Bruton Street, London;
Private collection, by 1952;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s, 9 December 1988, lot 40;
With the Walpole Gallery, London, 1989;
Private collection, USA;
With Lampronti Gallery;
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007.
Exhibited: London, Savile Gallery, Canaletto, January 1930, no. 9, (The Redentore);
London, Arthur Tooth and Son, November-December 1952, nos. 2 and 4;
London, Walpole Gallery, Italian Landscapes and Vedute, 14 June - 28 July 1989, nos. 26-27.
Literature: K.T. Parker, The Drawings of Antonio Canaletto in the Collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle, London 1948, p. 35, under no. 34 (The Redentore);
W.G. Constable, Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Canal, 1697-1768, London 1962 (and subsequent editions revised by J.G. Links), vol. I, reproduced pl. 26 (The Prisons), vol. II, pp. 225 & 347, nos. 84 and 318, and pp. 346-7 & 590 under nos. 317 and 775;
L. Puppi, L’opera completa del Canaletto, Milan 1968, nos. 257, reproduced (The Prisons) and 258;
J.G. Links, Canaletto, The Complete Paintings, London 1981, p. 80, nos. 275, reproduced (The Prisons) and 276;
A. Corboz, Canaletto. Una Venezia immaginaria, Milan 1985, vol. II, p. 662, nos. P 357-358 both reproduced;
C. Crawley in K.T. Parker, The Drawings of Antonio Canaletto in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, with an Appendix to the Catalogue by Charlotte Crawley, Bologna 1990, p. 169, under no. 34 (The Redentore);
J.G. Links, A Supplement to W.G. Constable’s Canaletto: Giovanni Antonio Canal 1697-1768, London 1998, pp. 9 and 31-32, reproduced (The Redentore), plate 269;
C. Beddington, Canaletto in England, exhibition catalogue, New Haven 2006, p. 169, both reproduced;
Canaletto à Venise, exhibition catalogue, Paris 2012, p. 138, under cat. no. 39.
Note: Remarkably preserved and in nearly pristine condition, this impressive pair of canvases demonstrates Canaletto’s inimitable success in capturing the imposing elegance of the architecture that defined 18th-century Venice. Most likely completed in England in the late 1740s and rendered with the artist’s customary attention to detail, the pair offers waterfront views of two of the most recognizable façades in La Serenissima: the Church of the Redentore and the Prisons of San Marco. Using a bright and dramatic light, Canaletto illuminates the remarkable grandeur of each building, highlighting their individually intricate yet balanced designs. Set beneath blue skies, bathed with a crisp atmosphere, and animated with fashionable figures, as well as gondolas and sandalos that glide gently atop the waters of the foregrounds, this pair can be ranked among Canaletto’s most admired masterpieces and are enduring examples of why he has long remained the undisputed leader of the genre of Venetian view painting.
Built of Istrian Stone, the church of the Redentore, or officially the Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore, is arguably Andrea Palladio's (1508-1580) masterpiece and represents the apex of his refined architectural ideas. It was constructed on the island of the Giudecca in the years 1577-1592 and was commissioned by the Venetian Senate to give thanks to God for the deliverance of the city from the major plague of 1575-1576, which had decimated around one quarter of the city's population and had claimed the lives of many of the city's luminaries, including that of Titian. The Senators vowed to visit the church annually and to this day the Festa del Redentore is celebrated: each year on the third Sunday of July a temporary causeway made from barges is erected across the Giudecca for people to attend Mass. In the Redentore, Palladio combined the three distinct sections of the church into one harmonious whole, all held together by a horizontal cornice. The Redentore in the present pair is seen slightly left of center from the Canale di Giudecca and is flanked at right by the campanile of the Church of San Giacomo, which was demolished in the 19th century, in front of which appears the stern of a large, moored ship.
The public prisons of San Marco, also known as the Palazzo delle Prigioni, are among the most prominent buildings on the Venetian Molo. Around 1580, after a fire had destroyed the original prisons in the Doge’s Palace, Antonio del Ponte, who would later complete the Rialto Bridge in 1588-1590, was chosen to oversee their reconstruction and worked from the original designs of Antonio Palladio’s contemporary, Giovanni Antonio Rusconi. Del Ponte’s nephew, Antonio Contino, helped oversee the last years of construction and also built the Bridge of Sighs, which connected the prison to the Doge’s Palace, both of which are visible in the present pair. The prisons included quarters for the nocturnal security police, a wing for women, cells for victims of the Inquisition, an infirmary and a chapel. Completed in 1597 just before Dal Ponte’s death, the prisons were among the earliest purpose-built prisons and remained in use for over three hundred years, until they officially closed in 1919.
By the late 1720s and early 1730s, Canaletto had established himself as the foremost provider of Venetian vedute to international tourists, many of whom visited the city on their Grand Tours. His most avid collectors, though, were the British, who steadily commissioned works from him throughout his career, usually through Consul Joseph Smith, who acted as agent. Smith was undoubtedly the catalyst to Canaletto’s rapid rise to fame and was instrumental in securing the largest commission of the artist’s young career: a series of twenty-four canvases (two of large format and twenty two of small format) for the 4th Duke of Bedford in circa 1733-1736, all of which hang today in Woburn Abbey and constitute one of Canaletto’s finest achievements as painter and topographer (fig. 1). This series includes Canaletto’s earliest iteration of the view of the church of the Redentore with the Church of San Giacomo (fig. 2).1 The principal differences that distinguish the view in the present pair from the same view at Woburn Abbey can be found in the horizon line, the location of the spire at San Giacomo, and the placement of the large moored ship in the foreground. In moving the stern of the ship to the right of the painting in the present view, Canaletto seemingly creates a more balanced composition.
fig. 1. The Dining Room at Woburn Abbey with the Canaletto's twenty-four canvases. From the Woburn Abbey Collection.
fig. 2. Giovanni Antionio Canal, Called Canaletto, The Church of the Redentore on the Giudecca, from the Woburn Abbey Collection.
Although he did not travel frequently throughout his career, Canaletto moved to London in May of 1746, having already established his reputation among the British clientele. He may have moved as a result, in part, of the War of Austrian Succession in 1740, which discouraged English visitors from undertaking Grand Tours, thereby significantly reducing a large portion of his client base. While here, Canaletto’s output did include views of the English countryside and of London, but at the same time, he was steadily producing views of Venice to satisfy the insatiable demand for such works among British collectors. He found considerable success in England, and, except for an eight-month return to Venice in 1750-1751, he remained there for nine years.
The present pair of paintings belongs to a group of six works by the artist that are similar in size to the small-format canvases in the celebrated series at Woburn Abbey. The group includes two other pairs, each of which is anchored by an analogous view of the Churches of the Redentore and San Giacomo, one in which the central axis has been moved slightly right and one in which Canaletto populates the scene with a slightly different staffage and vessels.2 Unlike the present pair, which includes a secular view of the prison, the pendants of the other pairs are both views of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore from the Bacino di San Marco.3 While the other pairs were separated during their lifetime, and today can be found in separate collections, the present pair has remained together since they were possibly acquired by Sir Richard Neave (1731-1814), in whose family they possibly remained until the late 19th century.
That this group of works is uniform in subject and style suggests that all were likely completed around the same moment. Over the past few decades, however, very different datings have been proffered. Corboz proposed an early date of 1731-1746, Links suggested a date of around 1754-1760 after Canaletto returned to Venice from England, and Puppi believed that a completion date of around 1746, just before the artist’s departure for England, was appropriate.4 Most recently, however, Charles Beddington has suggested that the group as a whole probably dates to the late 1740s, during Canaletto’s stay in England, for the use of grey grounds and lighter tonality, as opposed to the Venetian russet grounds, as well as the delicate and translucent handling is consistent with this period of production for the artist.5
It is thought that Canaletto likely brought various drawings of his native city with him to England, such as his pen and brown ink capriccio drawing of the church of the Redentore, dated 1742, now at The Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge (fig. 3). As Constable rightly noted, the vantage point and distinct lighting found in this drawing can be closely compared to that of the present view of the Church of the Redentore.6 Although the setting of this drawing is fictional, the façade and architecture of the church is captured with the utmost detail, and such a work would have been an invaluable reference for the artist while working abroad, especially since his views of the church of the Redentore with the church of San Giacomo proved to be one of his most sought after and successful compositions. This comes as no surprise, as the view would have appealed to numerous clients in England, for it is here that the most devout admirers of Palladian architecture could be found. In addition to the version at Woburn Abbey along with the present version and its related pairs, further examples of this view of slightly larger dimensions include one formerly in the collection of Lady Cromwell, now in the Manchester City Art Gallery,7 and another formerly in the collection of Lord and Lady Forte, offered in these rooms on 26 January 2012, lot 58 (fig. 4).8
fig. 3. Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto, The Church of the Redentore, c. 1742, brown ink, brown and gray wash on cream antique laid paper; 31.1 x 47.6 cm (12¼ x 18¾ in.) Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Charles A. Loeser, 1932.325. Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College
fig. 4. Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto, Venice, A View of the Churches of the Redentore and San Giacomo, with a Moored Man-Of-War, Gondolas and Barges, oil on canvas, 23 by 37 in. Sold for 5,682,500 USD at Sotheby's New York 26 January 2012, lot 58.
On the other hand, the present view of the Prisons of San Marco is a unique composition for the artist of which no other version is known. This famed landmark only appears elsewhere in an autograph capriccio which once formed part of a series of thirteen overdoor canvases that decorated the Palazzo Mangilli-Valmarana, a house on the Grand Canal belonging to Canaletto’s great patron, Joseph Smith, and that sold in these rooms on 29 January 2009, lot 89 (fig. 5). In this imaginary setting of this capriccio, the prisons are transposed to the Venetian mainland and set as a wing to a villa in a Piazza with a coach and various townsfolk. Because of the unusual setting, the identification of the building in the work long went unrecognized, first listed by Constable as that of the Villa Pisani, Stra(?), but later identified by Mr. Richard Zimmerman as the Prisons of San Marco.
fig. 5. Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto, A Capriccio of the Prisons of San Marco set in a Piazza with a Coach and Townsfolk, oil on canvas, 41 1/2 by 50 1/4 in.; 105.3 by 127.5 cm. Sold for 2,882,500 USD at Sotheby's New York 29 January 2009, lot 89.
A Note on the Provenance
The Neave Family of Dagnam Park Essex owned a number of important works by Antonio Canaletto (and his school) from various moments in his career. Although Constable only notes that “the group of paintings belonging to Sir Arundell Neave…were acquired by his forebears in the early nineteenth century,” according to the Neave family they were acquired by Sir Richard Neave (1731-1814), and this seems almost certainly the case.9 Neave was not only the founder of the family fortunes, but also a successful merchant and director of the Bank of England, and it seems very likely that he would have met Canaletto in England, where he would have commissioned works from the artist and ordered more from him after he returned home to Venice. The works in the collection that were likely painted in England may include the present pair, a Venetian Capriccio,10 and three views of Rome.11 Two other pairs of views in the collection date to the period after Canaletto left England and returned to Venice.12 Sir Richard Neave was also almost certainly a patron of other 18th century artists, including Francesco Zuccarelli and Thomas Gainsborough, who in the 1760s painted a full length double portrait of Sir Richard Neave and his wife, in which he is depicted as a connoisseur of art, showing a drawing to his wife. After having possibly been in the Neave Family, this pair of paintings then passed briefly into the famed collection of G.A.F. Cavendish Bentinck, who collected paintings from the most illustrious Venetian artists, such as Tintoretto, Veronese, Giambattista Tiepolo, Guardi, and Canaletto.
1. See Constable, under Literature, vol. II, no. 316, reproduced vol. I, plate 59.
2. See Constable, under Literature, vol. II, nos. 317 and 318***, reproduced in Links, 1998, under Literature, plates 268 and 269.
3. See Constable, under Literature, vol. II, no. 301, reproduced vol. I, plate 57, and Links, 1998, under Literature, no. 301**, reproduced plate 268).
4. See Corboz, Links 1998, and Puppi, all under Literature.
5. See Beddington, under Literature, p. 169.
6. See Constable, under Literature, vol. II, p. 590, under cat. no. 775.
7. 24 by 37 inches. See Links, 1998, under Literature, no. 318**, plate 236)
8. 23 by 37 inches. See Constable, under Literature, vol. II, no. 318, reproduced vol. I, plate 203.
9. See Constable, under Literature, p. 137.
10. See Constable, under Literature, vol. II, no. 467, reproduced vol. I, plate 87.
11. See Constable, under Literature, vol. II, nos. 395, 397, 401, reproduced vol. I, plates 72-73.
12. See Constable, under Literature, vol. II, nos. 46, 74, 71, 176, reproduced vol. I, plates 25, 38, and 232 (in the 1989 edition).
The sale includes a monumental painting by leading Italian Renaissance master Titian and his workshop. One of only two known versions of the subject by the artist, Saint Margaret (estimate $2/3 million) was first recorded in the royal collection of King Charles I (1600-1649), where it was displayed alongside the King’s mostly highly prized works at Whitehall palace. The present work’s offering is timely, as the Royal Academy of Art’s upcoming exhibition Charles I: King and Collector seeks to reunite the King’s treasures from collections around the globe.
Lot 27. Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian (Pieve di Cadore circa 1485/90 - 1576 Venice), and Workshop, Saint Margaret. signed lower right near the skull: TITIANV[S], oil on canvas, 78 by 66 in.; 198 by 167.5 cm. Estimate 2,000,000 — 3,000,000 USD. Lot sold 2,175,000. Photo: Sotheby's.
Recorded in the inventory of pictures at Somerset House, London, September 1649, appraised at £100: ‘287/ Margrett afraid of a Monster. by Tytsian.’;
Whence ceded to Embry [Embree/ Emery] in part settlement of the late King's debt to him on 21 May 1650 for £100;
John Embry, Serjeant Plumber, 1650;
Richard 'Mad Dick' Norton (d. 1732), MP, Southwick House, possibly inherited from his grandfather Colonel Norton (d. 1692); almost certainly in his collection by 24 June 1714, the date of his will; and before 1728, when inventoried in his estate;
Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt of Stanton Harcourt and Viscount Nuneham of Nuneham Courtenay (1714–1777);
Thence by descent at Nuneham Park, Nuneham Courtenay until sold, Harcourt sale, London, Christie’s, 11 June 1948, lot 184 (for 500 guineas) where acquired by Frank Sabin;
With Frank Sabin, London;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s, 27 June 1958, lot 100 (as Titian, 78 by 66 in.), for 450 guineas to Hedden;
With Kurt Meissner, Zurich, 1959;
From whom acquired by a forebear of the present owner.
Exhibited: Geneva, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Venezianische Kunst in der Schweiz und in Liechtenstein, 8 September – 5 November 1978, no. 76;
Paris, Grand Palais, Le Siècle de Titien: L’âge d’or de la peinture à Venise, 9 March – 14 June 1993, no. 250 (as Titian, c. 1554–58).
Literature: A Book of all such the kings pictures…, Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Ash. 1514, fol. 17: ‘3/ Done by Tichian/ 5/ [pijnt] opan de raeht lijt opan klaeht/ Item the Picture of St Margarett with a little reed cross in her left hand triumphing over the Divell Being in a dragons Shape an intire figure Soe bigg as ye life In a wodden guilded frame/ 6–2–5–2’, in Millar 1958–60, p. 14;
A note of all the pictures in the King’s possession by Titian, Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Ash. 1514, fol. 185v.: ‘3 item san margrit/ forft inde midel priffi lossing rom/ 8’, in Millar 1958–60, p. 183;
A true Inventorye of Severall Pictures now remayneinge in Somersett house in ye Custodye of Mr Henrye. Browne. &c. appraised ye .. Septembr 1649 yt Came from white hall. & St James., Corsham MS, fol. 24: ‘287/ Margrett afraid of a Monster. by Tytsian.’, in Millar 1970–72, p. 316;
G.S.H. Harcourt, H. Walpole, J. Reynolds, Description of Nuneham-Courtenay, in the County of Oxford, Oxford [?] 1806, p. 22, recorded as hanging in the Great Drawing Room, on one side of the chimney: 'a most capital picture by Titian, of St. Margaret. It was in the collection of King Charles I. and has been etched by Hugh Howard the painter.';
G. Waagen, Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, London 1857, vol. IV, p. 350 (as ‘Titian(?) – St Margaret. Decidedly only a school copy’);
J.B. Cavalcaselle, J.A Crowe, Titian: his Life and Times, London 1877, vol. II, note 222, 223 (as ‘lost’);
C. Phillips, The Picture Gallery of Charles I, London 1896, pp. 50, 91;
P. Beroqui, Tiziano en el Museo del Prado, Madrid 1946, pp. 130–37;
O. Millar, ‘Abraham van der Doort’s Catalogue of the Collections of Charles I’, The Walpole Society, vol. 37, 1958–60, p. 14, no. 3, p. 183, p. 230 (incorrectly identified as the picture now in the Prado);
R. Pallucchini, ‘Un’altra redazione della Santa Margherita di Tiziano’, in Arte Veneta, vol. XIII/XIV, 1959–1960, pp. 47–50 (as Titian);
W.L.F. Nuttall, 'King Charles I's Pictures and the Commonwealth Sale', Apollo, vol. LXXXII, October 1965, p. 306;
N. Surry, 'Pictures from Hampshire: notes on the Norton collection and its dispersal', in Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club & Archaeological Society, vol. 26, 1969, p. 131, recorded in Richard Norton’s bequest, '...to the King's most Excellent Majesty His Heires and Successors as the first of my Legacy's 1728. I write this tho given and bequeathd before': as hanging at Southwick House 'In the Gallery': 'Santa Margaretta £120.1s.0d.';
R. Pallucchini, Tiziano, Florence 1969, pp. 159, 178, 298, 307, 320 (as Titian);
H.E. Wethey, The Paintings of Titian, London 1969, vol. I, cat no. 118, pp. 142–43 (as Titian);
O. Millar, ‘The Inventories and Valuations of the King’s Goods, 1649–1651’, The Walpole Society, vol. 43, 1970–72, p. 316, ‘287/ Margrett afraid of a Monster. by Tytsian.’;
M. Natale in Venezianische Kunst in der Schweiz und in Liechtenstein, exhibition catalogue, Geneva 1978, cat no. 76, reproduced p. 115 (as Titian);
F. Haskell in A. MacGregor (ed.), The Late King's Goods, London and Oxford 1989, pp. 227 and 231 (incorrectly identified as the picture now in the Prado);
F. Valcanover in Le Siècle de Titien: L’Age d’Or de la Peinture à Venise, exhibition catalogue, Paris 1993, cat. no. 250, reproduced p. 228 (detail) and p. 230 (as Titian, c. 1554–58);
F. Pedrocco, Titian: The Complete Paintings, London 2001, cat no. 209, pp. 246, 247, 252 (as Titian);
K. Meissner, Gemälde und Zeichnungen aus sechzig Jahren Kunsthandel, Galerie Kurt Meissner, Zurich, 2003, p. 28, 276 (as Titian);
M. Falomir in Tiziano, exhibition catalogue, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 10 June – 7 September 2003, under no. 46, pp. 258 and 399 (as possibly by Michael Cross, after Titian);
P. Joannides, ‘Titian in London and Madrid’, Paragone, LV, no. 58, November 2004, pp. 24–25 (as ‘worthy of Titian’);
J. Brotton, The Sale of the Late King's Goods, London 2006, pp. 242 and 319 (as sold to Cárdenas);
P. Humfrey, Titian: the Complete Paintings, London 2007, cat no.281, pp. 346, 355, reproduced p.355 (as a variant by Titian with some workshop assistance, c. 1570);
M. Grosso in S. Ferino-Pagden, L’ultimo Tiziano e la sensualità della pittura, exhibition catalogue, Vienna 2007, pp. 250–53, under no.3.2 (as Titian).
This painting is first recorded in the English royal collection. It belonged to King Charles I (1600–1649) and was displayed alongside the King's most highly prized Titians at Whitehall. It is listed there in the inventory of 1639 drawn up by Abraham van der Doort, as hanging in the First Privy Lodging Room: ‘Done by Tichian/ Item the Picture of St Margarett with a little reed cross in her left hand triumphing over the Divell Being in a dragons Shape an intire figure Soe bigg as ye life In a wodden guilded frame’. The Saint Margaret hung in the principal room of Titians, with the early Pesaro presented to Peter(Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp) and other remarkable works such as Venus with an Organist (fig. 1) and The Allocution of the Marquis del Vasto to his Troops (both Prado, Madrid); The Entombment of Christ, The Supper at Emmaus and the 'Allegory of Alfonso d'Avalos' (all three now at the Musée du Louvre, Paris); and Woman in a Fur(Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna).2
fig. 1. Titian, Venus and Music, circa 1550, oil on canvas, 138 by 222.4 cm. Museo del Prado.
Soon after the King's execution, the decision was taken by Parliament to sell off his collections. Full inventories were drawn up and valuations given with a view to the money raised from their sale paying off the King's debts. The King's creditors were entitled to acquire pictures; others were paid in goods from Charles's estate. In the case of the Saint Margaret it was sold to John Embry, a royal plumber, whose name appears on the First List of the late King's servants and creditors comprising those most in need. Francis Haskell in his essay on Charles I's collection cites Embry's case as a representative example of a member of the King's retinue who had remained unpaid. The present work, which is listed in an inventory of pictures drawn up in September 1649, was valued at £100. As Haskell describes, Embry was owed £903 and was recompensed only partly in cash. To cover the remaining sum he was allowed to choose pictures to make up the value – among them the present painting of Saint Margaret.3 According to Nuttall, of the twenty-four pictures given to him as settlement of the debt, the Saint Margaret was the most important. Presumably Embry's objective was then to sell it as quickly as possible and convert it into cash. During the Commonwealth Embry became Oliver Cromwell's Surveyor-General of Works and subsequently, at the Restoration, found himself obliged to defend his position, returning a portion of the pictures to Charles II.4 The picture is next recorded in Hampshire, in the collection of Richard Norton (d. 1732), though it is not known how he acquired it. He may have inherited it from his grandfather Colonel Norton (d. 1692). The Saint Margaretthen entered a British aristocratic collection where it remained until the mid-twentieth century.
The Saint Margaret is likely to have been begun at the same time as the Prado painting, which is generally recognised as the prime version of the composition and dated to the mid-1560s. Indeed it seems probable that the present work was painted alongside the version now in the Prado, with Titian utilising his workshop to block in areas of the painting but finishing the key areas of the painting himself. The expressive power of Titian’s later style is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than in the lyrical and atmospheric depiction of the city of Venice on fire in the background. On the skyline the campanile of St Mark glows in fiery orange and pinks, whilst the stormy waves of the sea are animated by dark blue and green brushstrokes. In the sky billowing smoke rises upwards to intermingle with the clouds in a passage of painting that presages that of the Impressionists, more than three centuries later.
The x-radiograph reveals much more vigorous application of paint in places that now appear rather dark and flat, including the area to the left of the head now covered with brown paint, and changes to the structure of the dragon, as well as modifications to the city skyline. A photograph of the painting taken at the time of the Harcourt sale in 1948 shows the larger extent of the canvas at the top edge of the composition before it was reduced, at some point before 1958. The composition was then more closely comparable to that of the Prado version.
As is characteristic with Titian’s late works, the darker tones, fiery landscape and summary handling of the paint in the present work create a sense of drama that is entirely fitting to the narrative. Margaret of Antioch was a legendry virgin martyr. She refused a proposal of marriage from the prefect of Antioch and was cruelly tortured and imprisoned as a result. Satan allegedly appeared to her in the form of a dragon and devoured her. The cross she held in her hand irritated the monster’s insides and the dragon burst open allowing her to escape unharmed, only to be subsequently decapitated. Panofsky notes that Titian’s decision to depict Saint Margaret and the dragon in an outdoor setting suggests he was using an apocryphal version of the legend.5
Titian’s Saint Margaret is conceived with a profound understanding of the dramatic potential of the scene. She is a triumphant figure whose body, depicted in dramatic contrapposto, fills the entire right-hand side of picture plane, almost touching the right-hand and lower margins. Prof. Paul Joannides has noted Titian's deliberate comparison with Raphael and Giulio Romano's versions of the same subject (Giulio's Saint Margaret was in Venice in the early sixteenth-century, in the collection of Zuananonio Venier, today housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). Titian's Margaret surpasses the serenity of Giulio's interpretation, which lacks the intensity of expression and setting. Titian's saint is painted in a myriad of colours and her luminous light green tunic with its bright white sleeves and rose pink veil stands out from the more earthy, brown based tones of the rest of the canvas. The dragon that occupies the bottom resister of the canvas is predominantly painted in brown and blackish hues and the only flashes of colour are the strokes of red and white delineating his vicious mouth. The implied movement in Saint Margaret’s twisting body contrasts to the stolidity of the rock face behind her and she emerges from the picture plane as an impressive figure, trampling the dragon underfoot and holding her cross aloft.
The painting was inspected on 28 September 2012 by Prof. Peter Humfrey and Dr Nicholas Penny. Both believe it to have been painted as a second version of the Prado picture and with a significant degree of studio assistance. Prof. Humfrey saw the painting again in person on 27 October 2017. In his opinion the Saint Margaret is a picture produced under Titian’s direction in his workshop, with the execution largely due to the workshop but parts, such as the landscape in the background, possibly involving the direct involvement of Titian himself. Prof. Joannides inspected the painting on 26 October 2017; he maintains his view, published in 2004, that it is by Titian and his studio. The Royal Collection is currently working on an online reconstruction of the collection of Charles I at Whitehall Palace, which will include the present work. We are grateful to all those cited for their comments. In particular we wish to thank Lucy Whitaker and Niko Munz at the Royal Collection for their help in compiling this catalogue entry.
1. P00455. See H.E. Wethey, The Paintings of Titian, London 1969, vol. I, cat no. 117, pp. 141–42. One other treatment of the subject is recorded, now in the Escorial, a painting sent to Philip in October 1552, today is in very poor condition, making it difficult to determine the extent of the workshop's participation (210 x 170 cm.; Humfrey 2007, no. 187).
2. See Millar 1958–60, pp. 14–16.
3. See Nuttall 1965, p. 303 and ff. In the record of the sale the pictures acquired in this way are shown as having been 'sold'.
4. Six pictures according to Nuttall; 9 according to Brotton; see Brotton 2006, p. 319. Brotton states that Titian's Saint Margaret had been sold to Don Alonso de Cárdenas, Spanish Ambassador to Philip IV. However the picture is not listed in 'A Record of the Paintings at Somerset House, which belonged to the King and Queen, that were sold to the Lord Ambassador of Spain', see A.J. Loomie, 'New Light on the Spanish Ambassador's Purchases from Charles I's Collection 1649-53', Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol. 52, 1989, pp. 257-67.
5. E. Panofsky, Problems in Titian: Mostly Iconographic, London 1969, pp. 34–35. Indeed, Dr. Michel Weemans, curator of Une image peut en cacher une autre, Paris, Grand Palais, 2009, has speculated (private communication to the owner) that the presence of anthropomorphic shapes in the form of dragons’ heads that he detects in the rocks surrounding the saint may allude to the legend of the Lernaean Hydra – the saint having overcome the dragon only to be faced with a proliferation of new threats around her. If so, this would suggest an additional level of involvement in the design of this version on the part of the artist.
Although they make up only a fraction of his considerable and varied artistic output, Sir Anthony van Dyck’s depictions of children are among the most memorable and enchanting works that the artist produced. Portrait of Prince Willem II of Orange as a Young Boy, with a Dog perfectly exemplifies this subject, portraying the innocence of the five-year-old Prince, without sacrificing his nobility (estimate $2/3 million). Two versions of this charming painting by van Dyck are recorded in period sources - one painted for the parents of Prince Willem II, and another version made for King Charles I of England. Recent cleaning of the present work and its subsequent public exhibition at the Rubenshuis Museum in Antwerp has led scholars to believe that this painting is almost certainly the recorded version painted for King Charles I.
Lot 42. Sir Anthony van Dyck (Antwerpt 1599 - 1641 London), Portrait of Prince Willem II of Orange as a Young Boy, With A Dog. Oil on canvas, 50 1/2 by 39 1/2 in.; 128.3 by 100.4 cm. Estimate 2,000,000 — 3,000,000 USD. Lot sold 2,415,000 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: Almost certainly King Charles I of England, by August 1632 (see note below), and included in the sale of the "Late King’s Goods", 1st March 1652/3, No. 278, ‘A Dutch Prince at length, wth a dog’, where acquired by Edward Bass and John Hunt;
Michael Humble, Esq., of Gwersyllt Park, Denbighshire (according to a label on the reverse, see note below);
Bartlett Joshua Palmer, Davenport, Iowa (inscription on the reverse);
Anonymous Sale, Christies New York, 26th January 2011, lot 19, (as Studio of Sir Anthony van Dyck), where acquired by the present owner for his personal collection.
Exhibited: Antwerp, Rubenshuis Museum, 2012-2016.
Literature: Rubenshuis Guide, no.41 (as the version painted by van Dyck for King Charles I);
See also under Barnes, de Poorter, Miller & Vey, ‘Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings’, New Haven, 2004, Cat. III. 114, p. 339-40, where Horst Vey notes a lost version of the composition, painted by van Dyck for King Charles I.
Note: Two versions of this charming painting by van Dyck are recorded in period sources, one painted for the parents of Prince Willem II, and another version made for King Charles I of England. The portrait painted for the sitter’s parent descended in the family and is today in the Schloss Mosigkau museum (fig. 1). This fascinating painting’s recent reappearance, followed by a careful cleaning and subsequent public exhibition at the Rubenshuis Museum in Antwerp, has afforded scholars the opportunity to reassess it, confirming its status as an important work by the master, which in all likelihood is the hitherto lost painting documented as made by van Dyck for King Charles I of England.
fig. 1. Sir Anthony van Dyck, Portrait of Prince Willem II of Orange, Schloss Mosigkau, Dessau, Germany.
Although they make up only a fraction of his considerable and varied artistic output, van Dyck’s depictions of children are among the most memorable and enchanting works that the artist ever produced. This delightful portrait of Prince Willem II of Orange exemplifies the genre. It depicts the young Prince at about 5½ years wearing a long gown of golden orange silk (the color of his princely house) with slashed sleeves, decorated with lace collar and cuffs. He wears a plumed cap of black velvet and stands in a relaxed and elegant pose, gazing to his right as does his dog, as if someone is drawing their attention. Van Dyck deftly indicates the young Prince’s lineage with a symbolic orange tree at the left, while behind hangs a rich tapestry arras, rendered in flickering brushstrokes, and embroidered with the arms and lion of the House of Nassau.
In the winter of 1631/32, van Dyck set north from Antwerp to the court of The Hague, having been summoned by Frederick Hendrick, Prince of Orange, an invitation that only served to boost his already considerable reputation. He arrived before 28th January 1632, when no less a personage than Constantijn Huygens noted that he had just that day been sitting to the painter.1 In addition to the Dutch prince’s patronage, van Dyck no doubt hoped to broaden his prospects, not only by leaving the confines and limitations of his native city, but also with an eye to a move across the Channel to the English court. King Charles I’s agent Balthasar Gerbier had been assiduously wooing the painter for some time, attempting to secure his services, and while a final decision had not been made, one was imminent. In addition, Prince Frederick Hendrik and his wife Amalia van Solms hosted Elizabeth Stuart, the deposed Queen of Bohemia, who was Charles I’s sister. Thus, van Dyck’s arrival appears to be a canny decision, not only for the commissions it afforded, but as a way to ingratiate himself further with the Stuart dynasty. Van Dyck would, in fact, arrive in England just a short time afterwards, in April 1632 where, save for occasional sojourns, he would remain for the rest of his life in the service of the King.
While in The Hague, van Dyck painted portraits of the ruling family, Frederick Hendrik, Prince of Orange (fig. 2, Baltimore Museum of Art, inv. 1938.217) and Amalia van Solms (fig. 3, Tokyo Fuji Museum, Tokyo, Japan), as well as their eldest son and heir, Willem II ( fig. 1, Schloss Mosigkau, near Dessau, Germany).2 Perhaps unfettered by the courtly expectations required of an image for a sitting monarch, the painting of Willem II is both formal and informal at the same time, and shows van Dyck’s extraordinary abilities to their most potent effect. Van Dyck captures perfectly the innocence of a young boy, but sacrifices nothing of his nobility in doing do. Drawing on the influence of Titian, notably his portrait of Clarice Strozzi(fig. 4, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin), van Dyck developed a pictorial language for the depiction of young nobles which was to influence artists such as Gainsborough, Reynolds and Sargent in the centuries to come.
fig. 2. Sir Anthony van Dyck, Flemish (1599-1641), Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, 1628. 45 x 38 in. (114.3 x 96.5 cm., oil on canvas. Credit Line: The Mary Frick Jacobs Collection.
fig. 3. Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Portrait of Amalia von Solms-Braunfels (1602-75) 1629, oil on canvas, 114.3 x 95.9 cm. © Tokyo Fuji Art Museum
fig. 4. Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (c. 1488-1576), Portrait of Clarissa Strozzi at the Age of Two, 1542, oil on canvas, 115 x 98 cm. Inv. 160A. Photo: Joerg P. Anders. Gemaeldegalerie, Photo Credit:bpk Bildagentur / Art Resource, NY.
In addition to the aforementioned set ordered by Prince Frederik, van Dyck was commissioned by King Charles I, whose eldest daughter Mary was to marry Willem nine years later, to complete a further set:
Sir Anthony vandike hath by o’ Command made and presented us wth divers pictures…of the Prince of Orange…another of the princesse of Orange wth another of their sonne at half length at Twenty pounds appeece.
Payment for these were authorized in a Royal Warrant dated 8th August 1632. The reference to ‘half length’ portraits was evidently shorthand for the whole group, two of which were true half lengths – an inference confirmed by the reference at the sale of King Charles I’s collection in 1652 (No. 278), where it was described as ‘A Dutch Prince at length wth a dog’.
A full length studio or later copy of the composition is preserved at Petworth, where the dog appears to adhere to the type in the present example, rather than the Mosigkau picture. The breed of the dog, which appears to be a whippet cross, is more robust and muscular in the present painting, and also has a more pronounced snout, thus suggesting that it was the prototype brought to England and furnished the template for the Petworth copy.3 No other autograph version of this composition is recorded.
The present Portrait of Willem II of Orange is thus almost certainly the recorded version painted for King Charles I. The relationship between the Mosigkau version and the present canvas is particularly fascinating and informative. The condition of the Dessau picture has been somewhat compromised in the past, but it is clear that the painting does have similar handling of paint to the present work. Perhaps the most striking difference between the two versions is in the quality and characterization of the dog, which is finer and anatomically more sophisticated in the present painting. Pentiments also exist in the present composition. Some, such as that along the contour of the Prince’s collar in front of the tapestry, as well as subtle shifts in the hands, and around the dog’s head and legs are visible to the naked eye, while infra-red technology further reveals the freedom and spontaneity with which it was painted. While it is perhaps pointless to discuss primacy in the case of two pictures which would have been produced either simultaneously or nearly so, these details would suggest that the present composition may indeed be the first version. In light of the importance of King Charles I to van Dyck from 1632 onwards, and his reputation as a connoisseur, this would not be surprising.
Note on the Provenance:
The portraits of the Orange family painted for Charles I remained in the Royal Collection until after the execution of Charles when the collection was sold by the Commonwealth in one of the most famous art dispersals in history. On 1st March, 1652, as lot 278, ‘A Dutch Prince at length, with a dog,’ presumably the present painting, was sold to Edward Bass and John Hunt, both creditors of the late king.
Edward Bass was a royal official under Charles I who, together with John Hunt was one of a handful of insiders who purchased a large quantity of the late King’s goods, and were amongst the chief beneficiaries of the sale. Bass headed no fewer than three of the fourteen ‘dividends’ (syndicates created by the King’s creditors, formed for the purpose of taking goods in lieu of payment), while Hunt (a former linen draper to Queen Henrietta Maria) was one of the sale’s treasurers. In addition to van Dyck’s portrait of Prince Willem II, Edward Bass also owned the jewel of the Royal Collection - Raphael’s Holy Family, ‘La Perla,’ now at the Museo del Prado. Bass was one of the ‘undoubted winners in the sale’ who formed part of the group of ‘cosmopolitan artists, dealers and merchants’ who were ‘the real specialists in money and art, and employed by all sides – crown, republic, dividends and foreign embassies’ (see J. Brotton, The Sale of the Late King’s Goods, 2006, pp. 258, 266, 283, 308-9).
As with so many paintings from the Royal Collection, the Portrait of Willem II as well as those of his parents were subsequently dispersed, and remained untraced for many years.4 A label on the reverse of the present painting is inscribed with the name of Michael Humble, possibly Michael Humble of Gwersyllt Park, Denbighshire Wales. The reverse of the stretcher is also inscribed with the name B.J. Palmer. Bartlett Joshua Palmer (1882–1961), of Davenport, Iowa, was one of the founders of modern chiropractic practice. He amassed a large collection of art and Asian antiquities, which was on view at his clinic at Davenport.
We are grateful to Dr Malcolm Rogers, Professor Christopher Brown and Dr Susan Barnes for each independently confirming the attribution of the present painting to Sir Anthony van Dyck based on their first hand inspection.
1. It must have been a stormy day, as Huygens noted ‘Pingor a Van Dyckio, cum arbor in aedes lapsus esset [I am being painted by van Dyck when a tree fell against the house]’. That portrait, sadly, is lost.
2. Schloss Mosigkau was built for Anna Wilhelmina von Anhalt-Dessau who at her death in 1780 bequeathed the building and its contents to form a monastery for well born aristocratic girls, a foundation which remained until 1945, becoming a museum in 1951.
3. Other copies of varying quality and age are at Welbeck Abbey and Warwick Castle, as well as museums in Prague and Riga, and at the Hallwylska Museet, Stockholm, none of which are of autograph quality.
4. For the portraits of Frederick Hendrik and Amalia van Solms painted by van Dyck for Charles I, see Barnes et al (ibid), p.338-9, under cat III. 112 & 113, where the versions preserved in the Prado, Madrid, are each noted as “probably the version bought by Charles I in 1632”. While many paintings in the Royal Collection bore an identifying brand on the back of the canvas, Sir Oliver Millar’s discussion of this practice in his introduction to ‘Abraham Van der Doort's catalogue of the collections of Charles I’ (Walpole Society, XLIII, 1960) makes it clear that many were not so marked.
The sale also offers an outstanding group of works from the renowned collection of J.E. Safra. In addition to important paintings by Jan Wijnants, Joseph-Marie Vien and Vanvitelli, the collection is led by a pair of still-life paintings from the pioneering female painter Fede Galizia (estimate $2/3 million). Celebrated for her still-life painting in Italy and throughout Europe in the first quarter of the 17th century – particularly ones depicting fruit – the present pair is a testament to the artist’s sensitive approach to subject matter and acute eye for detail.
Lot 20. Fede Galizia (Milan 1578 - 1630), A Still Life of a Porcelain Bowl of Grapes on a Stone Ledge with a Medlar, Quinces, a Pomegranate and a Wasp; A Still Life of a Porcelain Basket of Plums and Grapes on a Stone Ledge with Pears; a pair, both oil on panel, each: 10 3/4 by 15 1/4 in.; 27.3 by 38.7 cm. Estimate 2,000,000 — 3,000,000 USD. . Lot sold 2,055,000. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: With Alain Tarica, Paris, 1991;
From whom acquired by the present collector.
Note: These exquisite still lifes are the work of the pioneering female painter, Fede Galizia, an artist who played a fundamental role in the emergence of still-life painting in Italy and throughout Europe in the first quarter of the seventeenth century. Daughter of the miniaturist and painter, Nunzio Galizia, she trained under her father, and her precocious talent was already on full display as a young teenager. By the age of 20, she had achieved international renown as a painter of portraits and devotional compositions, yet it is her remarkable still lifes that established her lasting reputation and are considered her most important works today.
Although this pair of still lifes was unknown to scholars throughout most of the 20th century, Flavio Caroli became acquainted with them just after the publication of his monograph on Fede Galizia in 1989. In his letter of authenticity dated 15 July 1991, Caroli characterized the pair as being of exceptional quality, noting their powerful, almost celestial qualities.1 He considers them to be autograph variants of another pair of paintings by Fede Galizia sold at Sotheby's London on 12 December 1984, and now both in private collections (figs. 1 and 2).2 Along with Galizia’s signed and dated Crystal Fruit Stand with Peaches, Quinces, and Jasmine Flowers, which was sold at Sotheby's London on 8 July 2015 for £1,565,000 (fig. 3),3 the present pair can be considered among the most important additions to Galizia’s small but impressive corpus of works in recent decades.
fig. 1. Fede Galizia, 1578-1630, A Crystal Fruit Stand with Peaches, Quinces, and Jasmine Flowers, signed with monogram lower left: · FG · and dated lower right: 1607, oil on poplar panel, 31.2 by 42.5 cm.; 12¼ by 16¾ in. Property of a Private Collection.
fig. 2. Fede Galizia, Grapes in a White Faience Bowl, a Peach and a Medlar on a Ledge; Grapes and plums in a Faience Basket, and Pears all on a Ledge, a pair, both oil on canvas. Each 27.5 by 38 cm; 10 3Ž4 by 15 in.; sold at Sotheby’s London, December 12th 1984.
fig. 3. Fede Galizia, Grapes in a White Faience Bowl, a Peach and a Medlar on a Ledge; Grapes and plums in a Faience Basket, and Pears all on a Ledge, a pair, both oil on canvas. Each 27.5 by 38 cm; 10 3Ž4 by 15 in.; sold at Sotheby’s London, December 12th 1984.
A soft light illuminates each scene in this lot from the left, casting both a gentle gleam as well as subdued shadows upon the cool stone ledges, the lush fruit, and the delicate pottery, all set against a dark background. In one, bunches of fresh grapes with large green leaves are set within a decorative faience bowl. To the left of the bowl, a single grape has fallen onto the ledge from the overflowing bunches, while on the right sits a medlar, two quinces, and a pomegranate bursting with seeds. Just above the quinces, a yellow wasp rests atop a grape. In the other of the pair, a faience basket is filled with plums, quinces, and grapes, and is surrounded on the ledge by pears, six to the left and one on the right. In both examples, Galizia has not only focused on convincingly rendering the distinct variations in the flesh of the fruits, from the delicate yet vibrant pomegranate seeds to the undulating surface of the pears, but has also carefully described the fineness of the porcelain.
Exemplified in the present pair of paintings is Galizia’s sensitive approach to her subject matter, her acute eye for detail, and her preference for rendering still-lifes with a restrained simplicity that is echoed in works such as Francisco de Zurbarán’s Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose (Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, inv. no. F.1972.06.P).4 Never overfilled or cluttered and always imbued with a degree of naturalism, Galizia’s compositions impart quiet yet indelible impressions.
Fruit still-lifes in Italy around the turn of the seventeenth century were rare, the earliest known being Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit of about 1595-1596 (See S. Schütze, Caravaggio: the complete works, Cologne 2009, p. 248, cat. No. 7, reproduced). This example, now in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan, once formed part of the collection of Cardinal Federico Borromeo in Milan as did a few still-lifes by Jan Brueghel the Elder. While these still-lifes, with their intense realism, may have influenced the Milan-based Galizia, her innovative approach to the genre was unique and unparalleled during her lifetime and set the foundation for generations of artists to follow. The universal appeal of her still-lifes continues to transcend time and enchant viewers even today.
1. In his letter of 15 July 1991, Caroli notes: "Le confermo che i dipinti...sono opere splendide della pitricce Fede Galizia...La qualità delle due tavole in oggetto è tersa, astrale e potente, nell'alba di un genere che avrà un ruolo fondamentale nella storia della pittura moderna."
2. F. Caroli, Fede Galizia, Turin 1989, p. 88, cat. nos. 34 and 35, reproduced.
3. Oil on poplar panel, 31.2 by 42.5 cm, signed with monogram lower left: FG; and dated lower right: 1607.
4. Oil on canvas, 62.2 by 109.5, dated 1633. See O. Delenda, Francisco de Zurbaran 1598-1664, Madrid 2009, pp. 228-30, cat. no. 57, reproduced.
Dated circa 1510-13, a striking panel of Lucretia by the German Renaissance artist Lucas Cranach the Elder was painted during the early years following the artist’s arrival in Wittenburg in 1504, to work in the employ of the Electors of Saxony (estimate $2/3 million). Cranach’s fascination with the story of Lucretia is attested by the considerable number of treatments of the subject that he painted throughout his long career, with some 35 versions attributed to him or his circle. The present work stands out as one of the most sensual and beautiful of the subject, and is a supreme example of the type of erotic historical painting that was produced for private patrons – ironically right in the geographic and ideological heart of the Reformation.
Lot 10. Lucas Cranach the Elder (Kronach 1472 - 1553 Weimar), Lucretia, circa 1510–13, oil on limewood panel, 23 3/4 by 18 1/2 in.; 60 by 47 cm. Estimate 2,000,000 — 3,000,000 USD. Lot sold 2,895,000 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: Wilhelm Löwenfeld, Munich;
His posthumous sale, Berlin, Rudolf Lepke, 6 February 1906, lot 40, illustrated pl. XVIII, sold for 2,800 RM;
Siegfried Wedells (né Wedeles), Hamburg;
By whom bequeathed to the City of Hamburg, 1919;
By whom sold to W. Hallsborough, London, in 1961;
Acquired shortly thereafter by the family of the present owner.
Exhibited: Hamburg, Bucerius Kunst Forum, Lucas Cranach: Glaube, Mythologie und Moderne, 6 April – 13 July 2003, no. 78.
Literature: M.J. Friedlander and J. Rosenberg, Die Gemalde von Lucas Cranach, Berlin 1932, cat. no. 198C;
D. Koepplin and T. Falk, Lukas Cranach. Gemalde, Zeichnungen und Druckgraphik, Basel/Stuttgart, 1974/76, cat. no. 578;
W. Schade, Die Malerfamilie Cranach, Dresden 1974, p. 69, reproduced p. 429;
M.J. Friedlander and J. Rosenberg, The Paintings of Lucas Cranach, London 1978, p. 78, cat. no. 42, reproduced;
W. Schade, Cranach: A Family of Master Painters, New York 1980 edition, p. 467, cat. no. 429b, reproduced p. 429;
W. Schade et. al., Lucas Cranach: Glaube, Mythologie und Moderne, exh. cat., Stuttgart 2003, cat. no. 78, reproduced p. 80;
G. Heydenreich, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Painting materials, techniques and workshop practice, Amsterdam 2007, p. 283, reproduced fig. 218.
Note: This is one of the earliest known treatments of the classical subject of Lucretia by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Unanimously dated by scholars circa 1510-13, it was painted during the early years following Cranach’s arrival in Wittenberg in 1504 to work in the employ of the Electors of Saxony, and shortly after the conferral in 1508 by Duke Frederick the Wise of the coat of arms with the winged serpent device that would became the basis of the artist’s signature. Of all the known depictions of Lucretia by Cranach and his circle, this can be considered the most sensual and beautiful and it is a supreme example of the type of erotic historical painting produced for the artist’s private patrons, ironically right in the geographic and ideological heart of the Reformation, in the very court where Cranach’s great friend Martin Luther enjoyed the protection of the Electors of Saxony.
The painting was first published by Friedländer and Rosenberg in 1932, who identified the picture as an early work by Lucas Cranach the Elder and proposed a dating of circa 1510-13. A terminus ante quem is provided by the existence of a copy after Cranach’s original by his pupil Hans Döring, which is signed with his monogram HD and dated 1514, and is today in the Wiesbaden Museum.1 Cranach is known to have begun to develop his workshop by 1507 and the existence of Döring's copy attests to the practice of pupils copying the master’s originals, although the presence of the signature may have been a requisite to avoid any possible confusion with Cranach’s own or ‘approved’ studio versions.
In 1976 the present work was published by Koepplin and Falk, who likewise dated it circa 1510-13, and at the time believed it to be the earliest known treatment of the subject of Lucretia by the Elder Cranach. They tentatively associated the work with a possible pendant depicting the Old Testament figure Salome, today hanging in the Museu de Arte Antigua in Lisbon, in which the figure is similarly depicted, half-length (holding the head of Saint John the Baptist on a platter), against a black background, also wearing a choker set with precious stones.
In early 2012 another early treatment of Lucretia by Cranach the Elder appeared at auction in these rooms (fig. 1). Its dating of around 1509/10 places it as the earliest of Cranach's treatments of the figure of Lucretia.2 Both that painting and the present Lucretia share a great deal in common in design and handling. Both paintings depict the female heroine three-quarter length, in a similar pose, wearing a fur mantel and holding the dagger to her breast; the physiognomy is far more Italianate and naturalistic than the standard idealised courtly types that would dominate Cranach’s later treatments of the subject, and the features of the distinctive plump, rounded faces are rendered with remarkable detail and precision that suggest the use of real life models and lend a far greater sense of realism to the scene. The artist has made however a number of revisions to the earlier design, which gives the present version a heightened sense of drama and greater sensuality. Most strikingly, Lucretia is depicted with both breasts and the lower part of her midriff exposed, whilst her hair has been tied up and arranged in an elegant plat on her head. The artist has replaced the richly adorned sleeves in the earlier version with a simple white shirt that focuses the viewer on the strong vertical of the exposed body and the drama that is about to unfold. Moreover, Lucretia’s right hand, holding the dagger, has been turned over and her arm bent to give greater vigour and emphasis to the imminent thrust of the sharp blade, thereby heightening further the overall sense of drama.
fig. 1. Lucas Cranach the Elder, Lucretia, oil on panel, 60.3 by 48.9 cm; sold for $5.1 million at Sotheby’s New York, January 2012.
For Cranach, the figure of Lucretia appears to have represented an embodiment of virtue rather than merely an historical figure. The story is taken from Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita. Lucretia was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, son of the last Roman king Tarquinius Superbus. Although her father and husband swore to avenge her, in order to fully expunge her dishonour, she committed suicide by stabbing herself. According to legend, the horror of the act and her extreme sense of honour spurred the aristocracy to rise up against the monarchy and establish the Roman Republic. She was therefore considered as an exemplar of the virtuous Roman wife and at the court in Wittenberg, with its emphasis of intellect and learning, her conduct was celebrated as one of the antique virtues.
Cranach’s fascination with the story of Lucretia is attested by the considerable number of treatments of the subject that he painted throughout his long career, with some 35 versions attributed to him or his circle. The present work appears to have enjoyed particular success and is known through numerous copies and derivations. In addition to the 1514 copy by Hans Döring there are workshop versions in the Kunstmuseum, Basel and the Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento. The present work however, along with the earlier known treatment, stand alone as works of singular beauty and refinement within the artist’s numerous essays on the subject, and through the use of life-like models possess a sense of realism that is entirely absent in Cranach’s later treatments from the 1530s and 40s. What is common to all of the great German Renaissance master’s representations of the theme however is that the veneer of decency afforded by the historical subject does little to disguise the deeply erotic overtones of the scenes and it perhaps seems shocking that such images were deemed acceptable at the height of the Reformation and in the Saxon Court where Luther and Cranach lived and enjoyed a close friendship.
1. See Heydenreich 2007, p. 283, reproduced figure 219.
2. The painting was sold New York, Sotheby’s, 26 January 2012, lot 34, for $5,122,500 hammer.
3. See Friedländer and Rosenberg 1932, p. 39, under cat. no. 48.
Following the record-breaking sale of William Drost’s Flora in January 2017, the Master Paintings Evening Sale will include another rediscovery from the artist’s Italian period: Roman Charity (estimate $200/300,000). Painted at the beginning of the artist’s sojourn in Venice, circa 1655-1657, the present work has not been seen on the market for over a century, having remained in a private collection since at least 1850. As with Flora, the painting is a remarkable combination of the artist’s early training in Amsterdam under Rembrandt, with the more mature style he developed in Venice, where he worked in the Italian tenebrist style made popular by Jusepe di Ribera.
Lot 25. William Drost (Amsterdam 1633 - 1659 Venice), Roman Charity, oil on canvas, 58 1/2 by 41 in.; 148.5 by 104.3 cm. Estimate 200,000 — 300,000 USD. Lot sold 1,095,000 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.
Provenance: In the possession of the family of the current owners since at least 1850.
Note: Willem Drost’s powerful Roman Charity is a complete rediscovery, painted at the beginning of the artist’s brief stay in Venice, circa 1655-1657, and for at least the past hundred years resting quietly in a family collection. Such a rare addition to an already tiny corpus comes, amazingly, on the heels of yet another rediscovered Italian period Drost, sold in these rooms one year ago for a world-record price (fig.1)1.
fig.1. Willem Drost (1633 – 1659), Flora, oil on canvas, 39 by 33 in.; 99 by 84 cm. Sold for for $4,625,000 at Sotheby's New York, 25 January 2017, lot 20.
The work is all the more rare as it accounts for only the second multi-figural composition from Drost's Italian sojourn, for which there are only fifteen accepted extant pictures.2 The first, and consequently the only other history painting, is his Mercury and Argus in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden (fig. 2). Consequently, Roman Charity stands out as a touchstone in understanding Drost's working method from this incredibly brief but critical period in the arch of Dutch Golden Age painting. As with the aforementioned Flora, Roman Charity is a remarkable synthesis of the artist’s early training in Amsterdam under Rembrandt and the more mature style he developed in Venice, when he came under the direct spell of both Titian and the Italian tenebrist movement made popular by Jusepe di Ribera.
fig. 2. Willem Drost, Mercury and Argus, 116.5 x 98.5 cm, oil on canvas. © SLUB Dresden / Deutsche Fotothek / Rudolph Kramer.
The rediscovery of the present work allow us to re-evaluate Drost’s stylistic development in Italy, for his Italian oeuvre reveals a strong affinity for this tenebrist style prevalent in Venice at the time. Indeed, his Italian paintings have at times been confused with the work of the German artist Johann Carl Loth, who was active in Venice and perhaps best exemplifies the Riberesque trend in Venetian tenebrism. Indeed, both the Dresden Mercury and Argus and Roman Charity recall Loth's painterly technique, but as Jonathan Bikker notes, the hair, beard and face of both male protagonists-Argus and Cimon-are similarly rendered in coarse impasto in a manner consistent with Drost's Italian style. Furthermore, the eyes of both Mercury and, here, Pero are distinctly outlined in thin lines, a distinguishing feature of Drost's Italian style.
Bikker correctly notes that it had been assumed, based on the extant paintings from the artist’s Italian sojourn, that Drost had lost interest in the 16th century Venetian prototypes which had so informed his style while he was still in Amsterdam. However, the present Roman Charity, which was almost certainly painted in Venice, directly contradicts that idea and confirms that native Italian paintings continued to be a crucial source of inspiration. This observation is made obvious here by the soft chiaroscuro framing the overall composition, Pero's soft flesh tones, and above all, her delicate oval facial features and red lips which immediately recall both Flora and Drost's undisputed masterpiece, Bathsheba with King David's Letter (fig. 3, Musée du Louvre).
fig. 3. Willem Drost, Bathsheba receiving letter from David, Paris, musée du Louvre. Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Franck Raux
We are grateful to Dr. Jonathan Bikker for endorsing the attribution following first-hand inspection and for his kind assistance in cataloguing the work.
1. Sotheby's New York, 25 January 2017, lot 20, for $4,625,000.
2. See J. Bikker, Willem Drost: A Rembrandt Pupil in Amsterdam and Venice, New Haven and London 2005, cat. nos. 25-38.