Lot 373. Artemisia Gentileschi (Rome 1593 – post 31 January 1654 Naples) with the assistance, in the background, of Onofrio Palumbo (Naples 1606–1656?) Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy, oil on canvas, 129.8 x 180.4 cm, framed. Estimate € 400,000 - 600,000. Realized price EUR 442,500 (USD 500,000). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG
VIENNA.- Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was one of the most influential artists of all time, profoundly inspiring painters from all over Europe with his innovative, dramatic use of light and his fresh realistic presentation of his subject matter. The followers of his style, the so-called Caravaggisti, encountered his bold approach and several important works painted by the earliest of the Caravaggisti are to be offered in Dorotheum’s Old Master Paintings sale on Tuesday, 30 April 2019.
One, a Saint Bartholomew by Bartolomeo Manfredi (estimate € 300,000 - 400,000) and another of the same subject, a Saint Bartholomew (€ 80,000 - 120,000), painted by an unconfirmed hand, but recently attributed to Caravaggio himself. Following Caravaggio’s premature death, it is Bartolomeo Manfredi who is credited with passing on the master’s stylistic innovations, particularly his use of naturalism, to the next generation.
Lot 362. Bartolomeo Manfredi (Ostiano 1582–1622 Rome), The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew, oil on canvas, 120 x 150 cm, framed. Estimate € 300,000 - 400,000. Realized price EUR 344,900 (USD 390,000). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG
Provenance: possibly Piero Guicciardini collection, Rome, as one of two paintings purchased in 1621 as ‘due quadri con tre figure per ciascuno’ (see literature, G. Papi 2013);
Private collection, Milan;
and thence by descent to the present owner.
Exhibited: Cremona, S. Maria della Pietà, Dopo Caravaggio: Bartolomeo Manfredi e la Manfrediana Methodus, 7 May - 7 July 1987, no. 12.
Literature: R. Longhi, Ultimi studi sul Caravaggio e la sua cerchia, in: Proporzioni, 1943, p. 25, no. 55 ill.;
B. Nicolson, Caravaggism in Europe, 1979, vol. I, p. 144, vol. II, fig. 293;
Matthiesen Fine Art Ltd, Important Italian Baroque Paintings, 1600-1700, exhibition catalogue, London 1981, p. 14;
A. Moir, An Examination of Bartolomeo Manfredi’s ‘Cupid Chastised’, in: Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, vol. 11, no. 2, 1985, p. 160;
M. Gregori/G. Merlo, in: Dopo Caravaggio: Bartolomeo Manfredi e la Manfrediana Methodus, ed. by M. Gregori et al., exhibition catalogue, Cremona 1987, p. 25, pp. 80-81, no. 12, ill.;
W. Prohaska, in: Opus Sacrum: Catalogue of the Exhibition from the Collection of Barbara Piasecka Johnson, ed. by J. Grabski, exhibition catalogue, Warsaw 1990, p. 193;
G. Merlo, in: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio e i suoi primi seguaci, ed. by M. Gregori, exhibition catalogue, Thessaloniki 1997, p. 216;
N. Hartje, Bartolomeo Manfredi (1582-1622). Ein Nachfolger Caravaggios und seine europäische Wirkung, Weimar 2004, p. 356, no. A30, p. 480,
G. Papi, Manfredi: la cattura di Cristo, Turin 2004, pp. 31-32;
G. Papi, Bartolomeo Manfredi, Soncino 2013, p. 190, no. 58, p. 208, fig. 16.
Note: The present painting, which was traditionally attributed to Caravaggio, was first given to Bartolomeo Manfredi by Roberto Longhi (see literature). Manfredi was one of the first followers of Caravaggio and Longhi must have believed this painting to be of particular importance for the reconstruction of Manfredi’s career, since he intended to include it in his important exhibition on Caravaggio and his circle held in Milan in 1951: however, owing to technical issues this was not possible (see Merlo 1987 in literature).
The attribution to Manfredi has been subsequently confirmed by other scholars, however, the dating of the present painting has been debated. As no paintings by Manfredi are signed or dated, the chronology of his works is difficult to establish. Moir (see literature) believed the present painting to be an early work by the artist, recalling Manfredi’s master Cristoforo Roncalli, while for Merlo (1987, see literature) and Hartje (see literature) the present composition should be dated to the final years of the second decade of the seventeenth century, owing to its stylistic similarities with the Springfield Crowning with Thorns. Later, Merlo (1997, see literature) proposed dating this work to Manfredi’s final years in the 1620s, as has Prohaska (see literature) and Papi (2013, see literature). Papi additionally states that this work is among the last made by the artist. Indeed, Manfredi’s works from his final years are characterised by the use of a grey-brown palette, predominantly representing dramatically expressive three-quarter length figures, such is apparent in the present composition.
The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew was frequently represented during the seventeenth century, however, Bartolomeo Manfredi here adopts a highly unusual compositional scheme for the subject, choosing to develop it horizontally, in a manner more reminiscent of representations of the Flagellation of Christ. It is not incidental that the present painting was compared by Giuliano Briganti to Manfredi’s Flagellation of Christ, formerly in the Barbara Piasecka Johnson collection, Princeton (see Matthiesen in literature), with which it shares a similar compositional arrangement, and almost the same dimensions – factors that subsequently led Prohaska to suggest that the present Saint Bartholomew and the Flagellation were intended as a pair. Without excluding this possibility, Papi has further suggested that the present painting may be identified as one of the ‘due quadri contre figure per ciascuno’ [‘two paintings each with three figures’] that Piero Guicciardini, Cosimo II Medici’s ambassador to Rome, purchased for his collection in 1621 (see Papi 2013 in literature). A painting by Bartolomeo Manfredi of Saint Bartholomew is mentioned in the collection of the Duke in Modena in 1657 (see F. Scanelli, Il microcosmo della pittura, Cesena, 1657, p. 202).
The composition of the present painting is played out in a bold symmetrical arrangement with the two torturers flanking the centrally positioned Saint, who is shown turning his gaze to the heavens with
calm resignation. The light falls from a single source above, on the upper left of the canvas, creating a vivid contrast of chiaroscuro that divides the scene diagonally and is reminiscent of, for example, the Denial of Saint Peter in the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Brunswick.
Bartolomeo Manfredi was Caravaggio’s most important follower in early seventeenth century Rome. He was originally from Northern Italy and is documented in Rome in 1610, although he may have arrived there as early as 1605. It was here that he first encountered the dramatic, innovative style of Caravaggio. However, rather than being a simple, servile follower of Caravaggio, Manfredi himself was an innovator, and his dramatically lit compositions, such as the present work, were to have a profound impact.
Manfredi’s reinterpretation of Caravaggio’s naturalism and dramatic use of ‘chiaroscuro’ were praised by his contemporaries and he, in turn, was imitated by other Roman Caravaggisti during the first decades of the seventeenth century. Mancini commented that Bartolomeo Manfredi painted: ‘nella maniera di Caravaggio, ma con più fine unione e dolcezza […] e, veduto il colorito del Caravaggio, si messe ad operar per quella strada, ma con più diligenza e fine, nel qual modo ha fatto progresso tale che adesso le sue opere sono in grandissima stima’ [‘in the same manner as Caravaggio but with more harmony and sweetness (…) and he worked with the same colouring as Caravaggio, but with more diligence and his works today are greatly esteemed] (G. Mancini, Considerazioni sulla pittura, ed. by A. Marucchi, Rome 1956-1957, I,
Manfredi was probably the most influential artist in transmitting Caravaggio’s legacy to the next generation of artists from all over Europe, but he particularly influenced the French and Dutch artists who came to Rome. Nicolas Tournier and Nicolas Régnier were among his pupils and other painters who followed his style were Valentin de Boulogne, and in Netherlands Gerhard Seghers, Dirk Van Baburen, Gerrit Van Honthorst and Hendrick Terbrugghen, all of whom would disseminate this style in their native lands. The effect was so marked and immediate that a near contemporary and fellow artist called the phenomenon the ‘Manfrediana methodus’. Joachim von Sandrart in his work Teutsche Academie, used the term ‘Manfredi Manier’ to describe the paintings of the Flemish artist Gerard Seghers and also wrote that Nicolas Régnier worked in the ‘methodum’ of Manfredi. The style of Manfredi, or ‘Manfrediana Methodus’, is characterised by the depiction of half-length figures, actual size, with subjects imitating nature with the greatest truth (J. von Sandrart, Teutsche Academie der Bau-, Bild- und Mahlerey-Künste (1675), ed. by A. R. Peltzer, Munich 1925, p. 277). Manfredi was admired and imitated because of his manner in capturing human nature through direct observation and portraying everyday events with uncommon sensitivity.
Lot 359. Roman School, ca. 1603 - 1620, Saint Bartholomew, oil on canvas, 109.5 x 85 cm, framed. Estimate € 80,000 - 120,000. Realized price EUR 100,300(USD 110,000). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG
Provenance: possibly in the collection of the Viennese painter Eugen Felix (1873–1906);
possibly with Knoedler & Co., New York, 1985 (according to the literature);
Private collection, New York and then Vienna
Literature: possibly T. v. Frimmel, Lexikon der Wiener Gemäldesammlungen, Munich 1913, vol. I, p. 340;
T. Döring, Studien zur Künstlerfamilie Van Bronchorst: Jan Gerritsz. (ca. 1603-1661), Johannes (1627-1656) und Gerrit van Bronchorst (ca. 1636-1673) in Utrecht und Amsterdam, Alfter 1993, p. 137, p. 229, B 5a, illustrated p. 383 (as a copy after Johannes van Bronchorst, tentatively attributed to Caravaggio by Mina Gregori);
A. Hanzl, in: J. Kräftner (ed.), Menschenbilder – Götterwelten. The Worlds of Gods and Men, exhibition catalogue, Vienna 2016, p. 91, mentioned under no. 12 (as a copy after Johannes van Bronchorst, and attributed to Caravaggio by Mina Gregori)
We are grateful to John Gash for his help in cataloguing the present painting.
Note: The quality of this evidently Caravaggist work is markedly high, and indeed Mina Gregori once tentatively attributed it to Caravaggio himself (see literature).
The present work relates to a painting of almost the same composition which is conserved in the Liechtenstein collection in Vienna and which is signed by Johannes van Bronchorst and dated 1652 (inv. no. GE 119). The composition of the Liechtenstein Bronchorst is a slightly longer format. Bronchorst was from Utrecht and was a student of the Caravaggist painter, Gerard van Honthorst. He is documented as being in Rome from 1648 to 1650. Johannes van Bronchorst would have therefore executed his version of Saint Bartholomew soon after his return to Holland, possibly taking inspiration from a prototype he had seen during his time in Rome.
However, a painting attributed to Caravaggio, which represented an ‘Apostle’ was recorded amongst the seventeenth-century holdings of Dutch collections and was documented as part of the collection of the Chevalier Jan-Baptiste Anthoine, Postmasters of Antwerp. It is cited as number 127 in his inventory of 1691: ‘Een half figuer appostel Thadeus van Michiel Angel Caravagio soo men gelooft’ (see J. Denucé, The Antwerp Art galleries Inventories of the Art-collections in Antwerp in the 16th and 17th centuries, Antwerp 1932, p. 93).
In the present painting, Saint Bartholomew can be identified by the knife he holds in his left hand: an allusion to his martyrdom. No further reference is made to the violent sufferings of the saint, in contrast with traditional sixteenth and seventeenth century representations of the subject. Instead, the monumental form of the Saint emerges from a dark background; his right shoulder is bare and his head is down, giving the impression that he is contemplating the fate that awaits him.
The choice of iconography, the extreme realism of the representation and the compositional development of the subject in a dramatic interplay of chiaroscuro effects, all point to the pictorial revolution achieved by Caravaggio in early seventeenth-century Rome, and diffused throughout Europe by his followers. The present Saint Bartholomew is especially striking thanks to the attention that has been given to anatomical details such as his swollen veins, the almost vaporous softness of his beard, the deep wrinkles of his face and the highly realist details like the wart on the subject’s right cheek. This evidently studied naturalism, the expressive power of the subject, and the artist’s singular deployment of light to achieve the monumentality of the figure, presented almost theatrically, are all qualities close to the work of Caravaggio, who during the first years of the seventeenth century created a new pictorial language that dramatically revolutionised painting in Europe.
Other works in the sale by Caravaggisti, are a sensual work entitled Mary Magdalene, by leading female exponent of the style, Artemisia Gentileschi (with the assistance of Onofrio Palumbo – estimate € 400,000 - 600,000), and a Ligated Lamb by a basket of Eggs by Giovan Battista Recco from a princely collection.
Lot 373. Artemisia Gentileschi (Rome 1593 – post 31 January 1654 Naples) with the assistance, in the background, of Onofrio Palumbo (Naples 1606–1656?) Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy, oil on canvas, 129.8 x 180.4 cm, framed. Estimate € 400,000 - 600,000. Realized price EUR 442,500 (USD 500,000). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG
Provenance: with Gilberto Algranti, Milan;
Private European collection.
Exhibited: Sydney / Melbourne, Art Gallery of New South Wales / National Gallery of Victoria, Darkness & light: Caravaggio & his world, 29 November 2003 – 22 February 2004 / 11 March – 30 May 2004, no. 55 (as Massimo Stanzione)
Literature: J. T. Spike, in: E. Capron/J. T. Spike, Darkness & light: Caravaggio & his world, exhibition catalogue, Sydney 2003, pp. 188-189, no. 55 (as Massimo Stanzione, with slightly different measurements);
N. Spinosa, in: N. Spinosa, Ritorno al barocco. Da Caravaggio a Vanvitelli, exhibition catalogue, Naples 2009, p. 161, mentioned under no. 1.70 (as Onofrio Palumbo);
N. Spinosa, Pittura del Seicento a Napoli da Caravaggio a Massimo Stanzione, Naples 2010, p. 359, no. 343 (as Onofrio Palumbo);
N. Spinosa, Artemisia Gentileschi e Onofrio Palumbo: insieme o ‘separati’?, in: P. di Loreto (ed.), Una vita per la storia dell’arte. Scritti in memoria di Maurizio Marini, Rome 2015, pp. 381–384, fig. 2 (as Onofrio Palumbo);
N. Spinosa, in: F. Baldassari/J. Mann/N. Spinosa (eds.), Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo, exhibition catalogue, Rome 2016, p. 232, mentioned under no. 72 (as Onofrio Palumbo);
R. Lattuada, in: F. Baldassari/J. Mann/N. Spinosa (eds.), Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo, exhibition catalogue, Rome 2016, p. 226, mentioned under no. 69 (as Artemisia Gentileschi);
R. Lattuada, Unknown Paintings by Artemisia in Naples, and New Points Regarding Her Daily Life and Bottega, in: S. Barker (ed.), Artemisia Gentileschi in a Changing Light, Turnhout 2017, pp. 201-204, fig. 31 (as Artemisia Gentileschi, with slightly different measurements)
Note: The present painting was restored to Artemisia Gentileschi’s corpus of works by Riccardo Lattuada (see literature). He dates this work to the 1630s or 1640s and has suggested that the background may have be executed by Micco Spadaro, the young Salvator Rosa, or another artist specialising in landscape painting from the circle of Aniello Falcone.
Nicola Spinosa independently confirmed the attribution to Artemisia Gentileschi, with the assistance of Onofrio Palumbo in the background, after recently examining the present painting in the original for the first time. He dates this work to soon after 1640. Previously, on the basis of a photograph, Spinosa had given this painting to Onofrio Palumbo (see literature).
The present painting was exhibited in 2003 with an attribution to Massimo Stanzione (1585–1656) advanced by John Spike (see literature). Spike drew attention to the work’s composition, underlining how the illuminated reclining figure in the foreground, set against a dark rocky background with a landscape view opening out to one side was a formula specifically used by two followers of Caravaggio, Orazio Gentileschi and his daughter Artemisia. According to Spike, the Neapolitan painter Massimo Stanzione adopted this compositional formula with the objective of emulating the celebrated Artemisia, who was documented in Naples during the 1630s.
After travelling to London in the later 1630s to assist her father Orazio, Artemisia returned to Naples. In this period, she was at the apogee of her fame as her reputation was near mythical, given that the story of her long, and well documented career was known throughout Europe. Her works were sought after by patrons and to satisfy the demand for her work Artemisia found it necessary to employ the assistance of studio collaborators, especially for the execution of the secondary parts in works of large dimensions. Her collaborations with the painters Bernardo Cavallino, Viviano Codazzi and Domenico Gargiulo are well known, such as the Bathsheba in the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio. Lattuada (2017, see literature) has also hypothesised that she used cartoons to replicate similar subjects in her paintings: this was a practice also followed by her father, Orazio Gentileschi.
The present painting reveals close stylistic and compositional affinities with another Magdalene, of similar size, which was also initially attributed to Onofrio Palumbo by Spinosa, and later also restored by him to Artemisia (see op. cit. Spinosa, 2015, p. 232, no. 72, ill., as Onoforio Palumbo; and N. Spinosa, in: F. Baldassari/J. Mann/N. Spinosa [eds.], Artemisia Gentileschi e il suo tempo, exhibition catalogue, Rome 2016, p. 232, no. 72, as Artemisia Gentileschi). The latter Magdalene was formerly with Robilant and Voena and then with Giacometti Fine Arts, and is now in a private collection.
The present work, and the ex-Robilant and Voena Penitent Magdalene, both show the saint at the opening of a cave, reclining semi-nude and covered only in part. In accord with the Scriptures, she is shown after her retirement to the desert to live in penance, following the death of Christ. In the present painting, however, the pose of the Magdalene, differs from the ex-Robilant and Voena painting: here she gently rests her head on her right hand as she turns ecstatically to gaze at the sky, which is striated with rose coloured clouds, as she holds out her gesturing left hand as in a dialogue with the Divine. On the rock to the left her typical attributes are depicted: the skull and the ointment jar. Her figure of voluptuously seductive beauty is highlighted by the warm atmospheric light of the setting, and she is partly covered by a pale yellow-gold cloth while she reclines on the sumptuous, deep lapis lazuli blue coloured mantle. The painting presents chromatic solutions of heightened intensity. The application of colour and the solid integrity of the form reveal Artemisia’s pictorial ability. Her careful and compact brush strokes build the sculptural form of the drapery folds, as well as describing the Saint’s hair and from. Her luminous figure is silhouetted against the dark ground and the sweetness of her expression and of her mystic experience, depicting a moment of ecstasy, make this painting an extremely significant addition to Artemisia’s late work.
The present painting has also been compared to another Magdalene by Artemisia in a private collection (see R. Ward Bissel, Artemisia Gentileschi and the authority of art: critical reading and catalogue raisonné, University Park 1999, pp. 228-230, no. 21, fig. 111). The figure is inverted when compared to arrangement of the figure in the present work. Nevertheless, in both works the saint is shown with her legs in the same position and her elbow resting on the stone block in the same way. This compositional format is also similar to the composition of the Penitent Magdalene by Artemisia’s father, Orazio Gentileschi, of circa 1622–1628, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (see fig. 1), as well as his celebrated painting of Danae and the Shower of Gold now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (see fig. 2).
Orazio Gentileschi realised more than one version of his Magdalene and he places the saint in a similar rocky landscape setting to the present composition by Artemisia. The saint is portrayed in front a rocky spur with a landscape in the distance with some of the same objects of the saint’s attributes that are also depicted in Artemisia’s painting. The saint is also shown leaning on a rock and looking up to the sky glorifying the Divine Love and turning away from the earthly things.
Technical analysis: IR reflectography reveals traces of a thin underdrawing and some small changes, including the position of the left nipple which was originally placed lower.
IR transparency of Mary Magdalen’s cloak is caused by the use of a high-quality ultramarine blue derived from lapis lazuli, which was widely employed in all the blue areas, sometimes mixed with red lake in grey tones, such as in the mountains. The extensive use of ultramarine blue indicates the importance of the present painting, and by inference the commission. The palette also includes ochre, brown earths, vermillion, the latter is used in the clouds mixed with lead white.
We are grateful to Gianluca Poldi for the technical examination of the present painting.
Lot 361. Giovan Battista Recco (Naples circa 1615–1660) A ligated lamb besides a basket of eggs, an Allegory of Easter, oil on canvas, 49.5 x 62.8 cm, framed. Estimate € 50,000-70,000. Realized price EUR 210,700 (USD 240,000). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG
Provenance: European Princely collection;
and thence by descent to the present owner
We are grateful to Riccardo Lattuada for suggesting the attribution of the present painting and for his help in cataloguing this lot.
Note: This painting appears to be an allegory of Easter, created around the season’s traditional ritual symbols: a lamb, which is emblematic of the Passion of Christ and eggs that signify his resurrection. The composition is a powerful image as the animal and the basket of eggs are placed on a stone step and fill the entire picture plane, thereby conferring on the image an uncommon quality of humility.
The composition, which is clearly inspired by the work of Caravaggio, is also known through another similar version (with slight variations in detail and size, 50 x 76 cm) in the Lodi collection, which was published by Luigi Salerno with an attribution to Giovan Battista Ruoppolo (see: L. Salerno, La natura morta italiana. Italienische Stillebenmalerei aus drei Jahrhunderten Sammlung Silvano Lodi, exhibition catalogue, Florence 1984, pp. 118-119, n. 53; L. Salerno, La natura morta italiana, 1560-1805, Rome 1984, p. 200, n. 53.1, p. 223). Another version of larger size (62 x 93 cm) with more variant details, also ascribed to Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, was offered at Christie’s Rome, 11 May 1993, lot 113. In this version, which at the time of its sale was accompanied by a letter of expertise from Luigi Salerno attributing it to Ruoppolo, the basket of eggs is replaced by a basket full of autumn fruit, thus transforming the painting from an allegory of the resurrection of Christ, into a more generic still life subject.
The principle distinguishing quality between the present painting and the two versions attributed to Ruoppolo, lies in the painterly ductus or hand. Salerno rightly drew attention to how in the painting in the Lodi collection ‘the vision of the surfaces is more delicate and clear, and less interested in volumetric solidity, almost as if announcing the refinement of a de Mura’ and he proposed ‘a date after 1680 when connections can be found with certain works such as the Fish and shells on a beach in the Museo di San Martino’ (see op. cit. Salerno, 1984, p. 118). However, in the present painting the brush strokes are broad: their sizable width can even be seen with the naked eye. The exacting description of the lamb’s fur and the sculptural definition of the basket and the eggs are entirely consistent with the manner of Giovanni Battista Recco. It is sufficient here to recall the famous Still life with a goat head, dishes and food in a kitchen interior conserved in the Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples or the Still life with a lobster, crabs in a bowl, two eggs and a tortoise formerly with Christie’s Rome, 4 December 1991, lot 40. The attribution of this work, advanced by Lattuada, was received by the subsequent literature (see D. M. Pagano, in: N. Spinosa [ed.], Ritorno al Barocco, da Caravaggio a Vanvitelli, exhibition catalogue, Naples, 2009, vol. I, pp. 382–383, n. 1.223). Moreover, in Lattuada’s opinion comparisons with works by Giovanni Battista Recco, such as the Kitchen interior in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam are decisive: here the near metaphysical atmosphere is in perfect accord with the present painting.
On the basis of this discussion it is therefore reasonable to believe that the the present painting by Giovanni Battista Recco is the prototype for the other versions attributed to Giovan Battista Ruoppolo, here mentioned for the purposes of comparison. The present painting is not only an important new addition to the oeuvre of Recco, but it marks a significant point in the tradition of seventeenth century Neapolitan still life painting.
Alongside the work by Artemisia Gentileschi, the sale will include a significant work (The Finding of Moses) by the celebrated Bolognese female artist Elizabetta Sirani (with the assistance of Giovanni Andrea Sirani - estimate € 150,000-200,000) and Guido Cagnacci´s Penitent Mary Magdalene (€ 100,000 - 150,000).
Lot 390. Elizabetta Sirani (Bologna 1638–1665) (with the assistance of Giovanni Andrea Sirani, Bologna 1610–1670) The Finding of Moses, oil on unlined canvas, 112.5 x 130 cm, framed. Estimate € 150,000-200,000. Realized price EUR 186,300 (USD 210,000 ). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG
Provenance: Private collection, South America;
where acquired by the present owner
We are grateful to Adelina Modesti for confirming the attribution of the present painting and for her help in cataloguing.
Note: Elisabetta Sirani was the more famous daughter of the established Bolognese artist and art merchant, Giovanni Andrea Sirani, Guido Reni’s prime assistant. In turn, Elisabetta became a professional painter and printmaker, a master of the Sirani workshop by her early twenties when her father could no longer paint due to illness. She was also a Professor at the Accademia di San Luca, Rome, and one of the first woman artists in Europe to establish a school of art and design for female students, which included her two sisters Barbara and Anna Maria. Elisabetta became Bologna’s most celebrated and marketable woman artist, and her work was represented in major European collections even in her own short lifetime.
Elisabetta Sirani was instrumental in the development of the Bolognese School of painting in the mid-Seicento, a pivotal transitional figure in transmitting the popular elegant Baroque Classicism of Guido Reni, dominant in the first half of the century, to the following generations of artists. She furthermore was one of the most erudite, successful and prolific artists of the Bolognese Seicento, gaining many public commissions, critical acclaim and respect in a male dominated profession. Extremely productive and with an extraordinary speed of execution, renowned for being able to finish a portrait bust in one sitting, Elisabetta completed just over 200 canvases (most of which the artist documented in her work diary Nota delle pitture fatte da me Elisabetta Sirani, later published by Conte Carlo Cesare Malvasia in his Felsine Pittrice of 1678), 15 prints and innumerable drawings and wash sketches in a professional career that barely spanned more than a decade (1654–1665). Elisabetta quickly became one of the most sought after and collected Bolognese artists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as archival documentation has confirmed, with her work now represented in major public and many private collections throughout the world.
An ‘ultrafashionable’ High Baroque artist, Elisabetta Sirani was extremely popular and highly talented, admired for her technical bravura and artistic virtuosity: she developed in her elegant and erudite canvases an expressive and quick painterly style with broad brushwork and fluid impasto (sprezzatura), coupled with intense exquisite colouring (colorito) and deep shadows (chiaroscuro).
This is evident in the present Finding of Moses, with its colour palette ranging from light pinks and blue-greys to deep greens, ochres and reds. Contrasting with the intense light that falls on the Egyptian princess and the baby Moses whom she has found hidden amongst the reeds in the river Nile, are the dark shadows that envelop the scene and figures in the background, itself opening onto a light filled misty blue landscape through which we can see the river snakes. Moses had been placed on the reedy banks of the Nile by his Hebrew mother, to save him from the slaughter of the innocents ordered by the Pharaoh to reduce the Israelite population. Adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter, represented here beautifully adorned and bejeweled with pearls and precious stones, Moses became the prophet leader of the Israelites, whom he led to safety out of Egypt where they had been enslaved.
Elisabetta’s characteristic broad and fluid brushwork is evident in the expressive treatment of draperies, as well as in the impasto of the figures’ features and skin.
Modesti has dated the present painting to the early 1660s, when the artist was moving away from the Reni derived models of her early work and beginning to add more drama and deeper shadows to her paintings. There are similarities in the facial types to other female figures painted by Elisabetta Sirani around this period, such as the 1657 Allegory of Virtue, the 1660 Cumaean Sibyl, and the Madonna of the Girdle of 1663. The features of the Egyptian princess especially recall those of the Flint Cleopatra, especially of note are the same almond shaped eyes with the arch of the eyebrows, and the wide bridge of the nose. The pearl earrings of both figures also feature an identical white highlight reflection.
Particularly noteworthy is the naturalistic treatment of the head and face of the female attendant holding the infant (perhaps his Hebrew wet nurse) which is closely aligned to the naturalism of the head of Anna Maria Ranuzzi, painted by Elisabetta in 1665 in an Allegory of Charity. Also remarkable are the hands of this female attendant, whilst the pose and positioning of the princess finds an echo in Elisabetta’s 1664 Portia.
The still life arrangement in the centre of the canvas in the immediate foreground is also striking: the flower petals and leaves have been painted with a sureness yet lightness of touch which renders palpable their delicate and fragile nature, perhaps alluding to the precarious fate from which the infant has been saved. Elisabetta often included such still life details in her works, such as the Portrait of a Boy of 1657 (now in a private collection, see Modesti 2014, plate 4), or the 1662 Saint Antony of Padua in Adoration of the Christ Child in the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna (Modesti 2014, plate 22).
Elisabetta Sirani does not register a work of this subject in her Nota, nor is there any mention of a Moses by her hand in the surviving documents and inventories. Thus, we cannot identify the patron for whom the work was painted. There is, however, a drawing of the Finding of Moses at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, once attributed to Elisabetta, but now given to the Lombard artist Il Montalto. The drawing, Adelina Modesti believes, should be returned to Elisabetta Sirani’s graphic oeuvre as it bears all the hallmarks of her fluid wash technique and figural types.
It appears that Elisabetta had some assistance in the production of this work. The two figures in the left background, especially recall the style of Elisabetta’s father Giovanni Andrea Sirani. The two artists often collaborated on works that were produced in the Sirani workshop, which was one of the most successful and productive workshops in mid-seicento Bologna. The concetto for the subject, which features women at its core, as were often highlighted in the work of Elisabetta Sirani, along with the overall composition of the present work, are clearly by this important and influential woman artist.
Lot 388. Guido Cagnacci (Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna 1601–1663 Vienna) The Penitent Mary Magdalene, oil on canvas, 96 x 75.5 cm, in a Florentine aedicula frame, probably 17th Century. Estimate € 100,000 - 150,000. Realized price EUR 125,300 (USD 140,000). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG
sale, Sotheby’s, London, 28 October 1987, lot 164 (as Attributed to Guido Cagnacci);
Private collection, Forlì
Ravenna, Museo Nazionale, Biblia Pauperum: dipinti dalle diocesi di Romagna 1570-1670, 1992, cat. no. 72 (as Guido Cagnacci);
Rimini, Museo della Città, Guido Cagnacci, 21 August – 28 November 1993, cat. no. 23 (as Guido Cagnacci);
Forlì, Musei San Domenico, Guido Cagnacci. Protagonista del Seicento tra Caravaggio e Reni, 20 January – 22 June 2008, cat. no. 48 (as Guido Cagnacci)
J. Winkelmann, Guido Cagnacci, in: G. Manni et al., Arte emiliana, dalle raccolte storiche al nuovo collezionismo, Modena 1989, pp. 90-91, no. 65 (as Guido Cagnacci);
B. Buscaroli Fabbri, in: N. Ceroni/G. Viroli, Biblia Pauperum. Dipinti dalle diocesi di Romagna 1570-1670, exhibition catalogue, Ravenna 1992, pp. 224-225, cat. no. 72 (as Guido Cagnacci);
P. G. Pasini, in: D. Benati/M. Bona Castellotti, Guido Cagnacci, exhibition catalogue, Rimini 1993, pp. 120-121, cat. no. 23 (as Guido Cagnacci);
L. Muti, A tu per tu con la pittura: studi e ricerche di Storia dell’arte, Faenza 2002, p. 357, no. 4 (as Guido Cagnacci);
G. Viroli, in: D. Benati/A. Paolucci, Guido Cagnacci. Protagonista del Seicento tra Caravaggio e Reni, exhibition catalogue, Forlì 2008, pp. 230-231, cat. no. 48 (as Guido Cagnacci);
D. de Sarno Prignano, in: L. Muti/D. de Sarno Prignano, Guido Cagnacci: Hypòstasis, Faenza 2009, p. 286, cat. no. 18 (as Guido Cagnacci)
The figure of Mary Magdalen emerges out of shadow into light with the use of chiaroscuro. The lateral raking light reveals her face with nearly-closed eyes and lips parted in an expression of pleasurable melancholy. The light used to describe the figure’s features is not used solely to create a sense of form, ‘but rather to reveal an emphasis on the gently heightened sentiment of the infinite sweetness of merciful compassion’ (see Prignano in literature). The Saint’s features emphasise a silent cry of ecstasy. In the present composition Cagnacci dissolves areas of dark shadow in the background. The Saint’s attributes only just emerge from this obscurity: her bowl is merely suggested, while the slightest of haloes is rendered with the fine tip of a brush. The narrative elements are reduced to a minimum and the influence of the Roman Caravaggisti is apparent.
Mary Magdalene was one of the preferred subjects of seventeenth century painters in Italy: she embodied the concept of transgression and absolution enforced by the Counter-Reformation. She changed her existence radically and freed herself from sin to follow Christ. As a penitent sinner, she is a figure that fluctuates between the sacred and the profane. Representations of the saint encapsulate the duality of trespass and redemption that so appealed to the Counter-reformation sentiments. The Magdalene’s most recognisable attributes are her long hair and bear breast, emblematic of her former life, while the cross and the skull recall her penitence and seclusion, as well as inviting reflection on earthly vanity.
This image of Mary Magdalene is highly representative of Cagnacci’s celebrated artistic output. As Viroli point out ‘the representation of isolated half figures of saints or antique heroines constitute an essential aspect of Cagnacci’s pictorial oeuvre’ (see literature), however this Magdalene appears strong and dynamic even when compared to other female nudes painted by the artist up until this date.
This painting is an earlier version of the same subject conserved in the M. K. Cˇiurlionis National Museum of Art, Kaunas, Lithuania (see V. Markova, Kartini Italianski Masterov XIV-XVIII Vekov iz Muzeyev CCCP, Moscow 1984, p. 74, cat. no. 39).
Winkelmann (see literature) has noted that the present work pre-dates the version in Lithuania as is confirmed by the dense application of paint and the intensity of colour which belong to the period before the artist’s move to Venice in 1650, while the rose flesh tones and the translucently fine application of colour in the Kaunas Magdalene are typical traits of Cagnacci’s work created in Venice. Each time Cagnacci replicated a subject, he tended to introduce some variants. Within the artist’s oeuvre there are other such works that include the Penitent Magdalene conserved in Urbania and another in a private collection in Rome (see L. Muti 2002 in literature). Comparisons with other works by Cagnacci can also be made with the Lucretia in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille, from circa 1650 and the Saint Andrew executed in circa 1647 for the Marchese Albicini (see J. Winkelmann in literature, p. 90, cat. 64 and F. Giannini, Passione e sensualità: la pittura di Guido Cagnacci, Naples 2011, p. 102).
Buscaroli Fabbri (see literature) suggested dating the present work to the late 1640s when Cagnacci was working between Romagna and Venice, and before he settled in the latter permanently, when his paintings of sensuality and pleasure where fused with melancholy sadness. However, Pasini and Prignano (see literature) have suggested dating this painting to the beginning of the artist’s activity in Forlì in circa 1637-38.
Guido Cagnacci was born in 1601 at Sant’ Arcangelo di Romagna from where he moved to Bolgona, at the age of fifteen. He may have trained with Ludovico Carracci and Guido Reni. In 1621, he travelled to Rome with Guercino, one of the most influential painters of his formative period. In Rome, he came into contact with the Caravaggist painters and he remained there until 1627. Cagnacci then returned to work in Romagna where he also worked on commissions for patrons in Venice. In 1650, he moved definitively to Venice, and eight years later he was called to work in Vienna where he died.
His style is typified by a process poised between the poles of Caravaggist naturalism and the idealism of Reni. His corpus of works reveals astonishingly sensual, yet solid figure types. These were rendered with a control of colour, which became increasingly more accentuated during and after Cagnacci’s Venetian sojourn where he interpreted the great masters of Cinquecento Venetian art.
Highlights from among the auction’s Flemish paintings include Artus Wolffort’s 2-meter-long allegory of the four elements (€ 150,000 - 250,000). Another allegory by Antoon Claeissins, thematizes the highly dramatic Justitia who has conquered the seven deadly sins and put them in chains (€ 80,000 - 120,000). Abel Grimmer contributes an Old Testament scene with excellent architectural representation (€ 150,000 - 200,000). Complementing this is a joint work by Frans and Ambrosius Francken II depicting the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea in the Old Testament (€ 150,000 – 200,000).
Lot 329. Artus Wolffort (Antwerp 1581–1641), The Four Elements, oil on canvas, 158 x 200 cm, framed. Estimate € 150,000 - 250,000. Realized price EUR 320,500 (USD 360,000). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG.
Provenance: Private collection, Paris, until 2018.
We are grateful to Hans Vlieghe and Jean-Pierre de Bruyn for confirming the attribution after inspection of the present painting in the original.
Note: Artus Wolffort, like Rubens before him, worked in the Antwerp studio of Otto van Veen. Each amplified the mild classicism of their tutor with pronounced dynamism and individuality. Wolffort’s work demonstrates some of the monumental plasticity of Rubens’s oeuvre in the decade following the master’s return from Italy. Conversely, the younger painter’s illusionistic rendering of hair and stiffer drapery, coupled with the particular muscularity and distinct gestures of figures that betray a closer affinity to Rubens’s elder contemporary Abraham Janssens, constitute the artist’s own discernible style (for comparison with Rubens see fig. 1). Rubens is known to have later enlisted Wolffort’s help, among others, in his grandiose programme of decorative arches for the 1635 triumphal entry of Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand, a visual record which survives in the engravings of the Pompa Introitus Ferdinandi (Antwerp, circa 1638).
Hans Vlieghe and Jean-Pierre de Bruyn both identified the present painting as another autograph version by Wolffort of his larger canvas in the Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart (inv. no. 2223). Although that painting was previously given to two other associates of Rubens, Jan Boeckhorst (Münster 1604–1668 Antwerp) and Frans Snijders (Antwerp1579–1657), Vlieghe writes that he has been able to attribute that work to the painter Artus Wolffort on stylistic grounds (see H. Vlieghe, Zwischen Van Veen und Rubens: Artus Wolffort, ein vergessener Antwerpener Maler, in: Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch, Westdeutsches Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte, XXXIX, 1977, pp. 109, 111). Vlieghe writes: ‘The Four Elements are represented here by four nearly life-size figures, shown together and sitting around a brook. From left to right we successively see Fire, Air, Water and Earth. Fire is represented here by Vulcan with a burning torch or a big candle and a forge hammer. Air is visualised by a young naked man, probably representing the sun god Apollo. He is shown here sitting on clouds and having in his hands a bird of paradise and a stick from which dead birds hang. Water is represented by Neptune, shown here with his trident pouring out water and fishes into the brook. Earth finally appears as Ceres, the goddess of fertility, shown here with a cornucopia and a white rabbit, a very fertile animal. In both versions, the rendering of the figures is strikingly similar to that in other paintings by the same master, some of them also signed or monogrammed.’.
Lot 325. Antoon Claeissins (Brugge circa 1536–1613) Justitia vanquishes the Seven Capital Sins, oil on panel, 99.5 x 104.5 cm, framed. Estimate € 150,000 - 200,000. Realized price EUR 95,867 (USD 110,000 ). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG
Provenance: Collection of Dieter Klenk (1906–1983), Mainz, 1964;
from whom acquired by the present owner in 1983
Exhibited: Bruges, Groeningemuseum The Art of Law, Three Centuries of Justice Depicted, 28 October 2016 – 5 February 2017
Literature: A. van Oosterwijk, in: The Art of Law, Three Centuries of Justice Depicted, exhibition catalogue, Groeningemuseum, Bruges 2016, pp. 165–169, fig. 95
Note: Antoon Claeissens trained in Bruges under Pieter Pourbus I (1523–1584) where he was made master of the Guild of Saint Luke in 1575. A documented composition by the artist, entitled Mars vanquishing Ignorance (Groeningemuseum, Bruges), was probably painted for the town hall of that city.
The present panel represents a rare synthesis of the Raphaelesque, mannerist styles of François I’s court at Fontainebleau with Northern elements drawn from the moralising woodcuts of artists such as Hans Holbein and Albrecht Dürer (see fig. 1). While the iconography of a semi-nude Justitia, wearing a girdle whose ‘seven chains hold seven abominable vices prisoner’ was described by Vasari in a letter to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, on 20 January 1543, the device of sinners tethered to the belt of a monumental female figure also echoes a Northern woodcut. Entitled Dame Venus and attributed by some to the young Dürer, it appears in Sebastian Brant’s Das Narrenschiff (Basel 1494). With these two stylistic antecedents in mind, the present Claeissens composition also develops motifs from an etching designed by the Fontainebleau artist Luca Penni (Florence 1500–1556 Paris), while exhibiting several innovations on the part of the Bruges master.
The central figure of Justitia, raised by a heavenly force, appears higher than in Leon Davent’s etching after Penni’s design. Her pose is almost the mirror of that of Christ in Raphael’s Disputa fresco (Apostolic Palace, Vatican.) Claeissens, typically, has rendered naturalistic background scenery in the Flemish manner. The more palatable figures of Luxuria (lust) with her torch symbolising passion, and Superbia (pride) who gazes at herself in a looking glass, are relegated to the mid-ground. This leaves space for the artist to portray the grotesque figures of Gula (gluttony), who brandishes a half-eaten ham-hock to Acedia (sloth), who is depicted with stumps for hands. Avaritia (greed) slouches under the weight of a split sack leaking coinage, and the withered body of Invidia (jealousy) lies upon rich drapery, suggestive of the notorious parading of aged naked courtesans in the Roman carnival. The final figure of Ira (rage) prepares to plunge his stiletto into a cherubic infant, which raises its arm up imploringly towards the figure of Justice, or indeed the crown above her head. Henry II issued an edict making burials of the new-born, or even clandestine births, a capital offense in 1556, and so the image of a baby reaching to both royal and divine justice for salvation had a contemporary context. The Latin: ‘CONFRINGE EOS IN VIRGA FERREA’ on the banderole is taken from psalms (2:9): ‘Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron’.
Lot 308. Abel Grimmer (Antwerp circa 1570 – circa 1620) An elegant loggia with the Proposal of Isaac to Rebecca, indistinctly signed and dated lower right: AB. GR.16.., oil on panel, 74.5 x 96.5 cm, framed. Estimate € 150,000 - 200,000. Realized price EUR 137,500 (USD 150,000 ). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG
Provenance: Collection Sir George Leon Murray Marx;
Collection A. J. Sully;
with Arthur Tooth & Sons Ltd., London;
acquired from the latter by Mr and Mrs Timothy Lewis (circa 1977);
Private collection, United Kingdom, until 2008.
Literature: R. de Bertier de Sauvigny, Jacob et Abel Grimmer, Brussels 1991, p. 238, no. LXXXI, pl. 119.
Note: The present painting illustrates the diversity of the oeuvre of Abel Grimmer, who was celebrated for his naturalistic views of the Flemish countryside with farmhouses and peasants. While the composition of a large building to the left with the perspectival recession of a loggia is typical of the artist’s cityscapes (such as The Marketplace of Bergen op Zoom, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.), the structure’s fantastic tracery and the antique costumes of the foreground figures lend themselves to a biblical setting. Juxtaposed to these are a realistic but compacted flock of sheep and a milling herd of cattle, shadowed by the palace and arranged subtly on the same plane.
In the Old Testament account from the book of Genesis, the widowed Abraham sends his servant to Haran, the land of his ancestors, to find a young girl worthy of his son Isaac. Arriving at a well, the servant meets Rebecca- the young woman prophesised. Rebecca presents the servant to her brother Laban and to her father Bethuel, a wealthy landowner. The servant asks for Rebecca’s hand in marriage on behalf of Isaac. Grimmer portrays this proxy marriage in the centre, where a figure holds his turban in his left hand and offers a bag of silver with his right as dowry for the future bride’s brother. Servants and soldiers take up various attitudes.
Lot 309. Frans Francken II (Antwerp 1581–1642) and Ambrosius Francken II (Antwerp 1590/92–1632) The Crossing of the Red Sea, inscribed on the reverse: ft ff (fecit Frans Francken), oil on panel, 93 x 123 cm, framed. Estimate € 150,000 – 200,000. Realized price EUR 174,100 (USD 200,000). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG
Private collection, Orléans, until circa 2018
We are grateful to Ursula Härting, for confirming the attribution of the present painting to Frans Francken II and Ambrosius Francken II. A written certificate (January 2019) is available.
Ursula Härting writes: ‘The painting The Israelites after the Crossing of the Red Sea, a relatively large composition in the oeuvre of Frans Francken II, is the result of a collaboration between the two brothers Frans Francken II and Ambrosius Francken II. Frans Francken II is now one of the best-known painters of small figures active in Flemish Antwerp in Rubens’s age. His talented younger brother Ambrosius II was likewise an artist specialised in painting small figures. Here Frans II, who conceived the composition, shows the camp of the rescued Israelites on the coast of the Red Sea. About six hundred thousand men, besides the women and children, had escaped on foot from the slavery the Egyptians had imposed on them. God had guided them in the guise of a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud, parting the sea so that they could flee from the Pharaoh’s troops without wetting their feet. Then Moses, who can be seen here on the seashore on the right-hand side holding the staff with his outstretched arm, made sure that the masses of water would close in on the persecutors. What is typical here is Frans Francken’s fidelity to the text of the Old Testament. The standing figure in the middle foreground wearing a turban and carrying a dagger and staff is probably Aaron, the elder brother of Moses. He assisted Moses in freeing the Israelites from their Egyptian slavery (Exodus 7–8). A stylistic feature characteristic of Frans II is the way in which he depicts several groups of men and women debating with expansive gestures amidst crowds of figures; they are all imaginatively dressed in exotic contemporary and antique costumes, with the colours and glazing technique speaking in favour of an execution of the painting around 1630. Exhibiting the biblical animals in the form of a camel, two parrots, and a donkey, all of them reminiscent of Brueghel and true to life, is also typical of Frans Francken II. The travelling Israelites on the cliffs above the camp and the youths on the monolithic rock at the front were painted by Ambrosius II, whose authorship is confirmed by the loose and more impasto brushwork, the tousled hair of the children and men, and the wide-brimmed hats set askew […]. This painting, which was made with the assistance of his talented and previously underestimated brother Ambrosius Francken II, presents itself as an absolutely characteristic and genre-like composition in the oeuvre of Frans II.’
Technical analysis: The painting shows a remarkable aptitude in the use of colour to define the different levels of the landscape, the figures in the foreground and in the distance, working with darker tones for the latter ones, intensifying the ochres and greys, together with blue-greenish azurite for the vegetation. The mineral pigment azurite is the prevalent blue employed in this work, also mixed with yellow to obtain green hues, as usual for Frans Francken II and other painters of the Antwerp school, while a certain range of red tones is achieved by red lakes and bright vermillion. The presence of discoloured smalt blue is discernible in the sky and against the pale brownish colour of the Red Sea and its waves.
Infrared reflectography reveals a large part of the underdrawing, perhaps the most important technical revelation about the present painting: this drawing is thin, linear and very free, traced freehand, without evidence of transference from a drawing on paper despite the complexity of the scene. The drawing was carried out with a sharp black chalk on the white ground, with different pressure and density of the lines, without hatching. Small changes, of course, accompany this impressive undetailed underdrawing and some figures that were sketched but not translated into paint. Some sketch-like traits are evident in the smaller figures, with many details only suggested by the quick brushstrokes.
We are grateful to Gianluca Poldi for the technical examination of the present painting.
19th Century Paintings
One of the highlights of the auction on 29 April 2019, will be a painting by Petrus van Schendel; a night market scene from Rotterdam, illuminated only by candlelight (€ 100,000 - 150,000). Other top lots from the 19th Century Paintings auction include works by Ippolito Caffi, Eugen von Blaas, Alexander Koester, Alfred von Wierusz-Kowalski and Alessio Isupoff.