VIENNA.- Old Master Paintings sales can deliver remarkable results. This was confirmed at Dorotheum’s sale of Old Master paintings on the 30th April 2019, where three paintings were sold for world record prices. 

A record price of over €217,000 was achieved for a portrait of the Empress Maria Theresia by Martin van Meytens. Van Meytens was the leading court portraitist of the Austrian Empress and her family. 

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Lot 418. Martin van Meytens (Stockholm 1695–1770 Vienna), Portrait of the Empress Maria Theresia, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, with the Bohemian and the Archducal crownoil on canvas, 150 x 126 cm, framed. Estimate: EUR 25,000 - EUR 30,000Realized price: EUR 217,066 (USD 240,000). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG.

We are grateful to Georg Lechner for confirming the attribution of the present painting on the basis of a high-resolution photograph. 

So far, only two versions of the present composition have been known, one at the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg (inv. no. ГЭ-5283, oil on canvas, 166.5 x 132 cm) and the other at the Mauritshuis in The Hague (oil on canvas, 162.5 x 132.3 cm). Whereas the painting in Russia must be identified as a work of high quality by the hand of van Meytens, the Mauritshuis version is a somewhat simplified variant, which today is rightly classified as a workshop replica (see B. Broos/A. van Suchtelen, Portraits in the Mauritshuis. 1430–1790, The Hague/Zwolle 2004, p. 291, cat. no. 38). Differences can primarily be made out in the rendering of the backdrop, in the gold embroidery of the dress, and, most obviously, in the number of crowns depicted. The painting in Saint Petersburg shows the Bohemian crown of Saint Wenceslas, the Hungarian crown of Saint Stephen, the archducal hat, and, in the background, what is probably the Imperial Crown of Austria, namely the Crown of Emperor Rudolf II, which deviates more conspicuously from the original. The painting in The Hague shows Maria Theresia with three crowns as queen of Hungary and Bohemia, while in the present work they have been limited to the archducal hat and the crown of Saint Wenceslas. This distinct feature suggests that the work was probably made for a patron or recipient living in Bohemia. 

Both the Saint Petersburg painting and the picture in The Hague have come with pendants in the form of portraits of Maria Theresia’s husband, Emperor Franz I Stephan. In both cases he is shown wearing the golden Spanish court dress and holding the sceptre, with the Imperial crown depicted on the table next to him. This establishes 1745, the year in which he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor, as terminus post quem. In all these pictures Maria Theresia and Franz I Stephan look considerably younger than in other versions, so that it must be assumed that the paintings were executed between 1745 and 1750. 

Whereas the pair in The Hague seems to go back to the collection of William IV of Orange (see Broos/van Suchtelen 2004, op. cit., p. 291, cat nos. 37 and 38), the paintings in Saint Petersburg entered the Hermitage from the now-reconstructed castle of Carskaja Slavyanka. For the present portrait of Maria Theresia it must therefore be assumed that it also comes from noble origins. It seems likely that the present painting likewise had a companion piece depicting Franz I Stephan. Matching the paintings in Russia and the Netherlands, it might also have shown him in Spanish court dress and wearing a hat decorated with blue feathers. 

In the present case such details as the lace, the embroidery of the dress, the coiffure, the soft modelling of the face, and the position of the hands are of superb quality and combine to form a harmonious whole. There is thus good reason to identify Martin van Meytens as author of the present painting.

Another portrait of a member the Imperial family, Archduke Ernst of Austria, reached an impressive total of €344,900. Ernst, the younger brother of Emperor Rudolf II, was the Governor of the Netherlands who amassed a collection of paintings by Pieter Brueghel, which later formed the basis of the world-famous and recently exhibited Brueghel collection at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.  

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Lot 342. Habsburg Court Painter, late 16th Century, Portrait of Archduke Ernst of Austria (1553 - 1595), oil on canvas, 124 x 103 cm, framed. Estimate EUR 40,000 - EUR 60,000. Realised price EUR 344,900 (USD 390,000)© 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG

ProvenancePrivate European collection

The present painting relates to the portrait in the Museo del Prado, Madrid (Manner of Alonso Sanchez Coello, inv. no. P001145) and to the portrait by Martino Rota sold at Christie’s, New York (4 October 2007, lot 107). Two similar portraits of Archduke Ernst’s brothers also exist: a portrait of Maximillian III in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna and a portrait of Rudolph II, which was sold at Dorotheum, Vienna (18 April 2012, lot 621). 

Archduke Ernest of Austria (1553–1595) was the second son of Maximillian II, Holy Roman Emperor and Mary of Austria. He was educated in Spain at the court of his uncle Philip II, together with his brother Rudolph II, the future Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia and Hungary. In 1576, he became governor of the Archduchy of Austria and from 1593 he governed the Spanish Netherlands until his death in Brussels in 1595. He was a collector of paintings, including Pieter Brueghel’s celebrated series of the Seasons.

The auction was also of particular interest for its strong group of works by the Caravaggisti, the followers of Caravaggio, whose technique of manipulating light to create dramatic effect with its emphasis on realism was to have such wide spread influence. The Flemist Caravaggist, Joost Van de Hamme's work, Saint Jerome, was particularly successful, selling for €320,500, a world record price for a work by one of the Flemish followers of the Italian master. 

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Lot 380. Joost Van de Hamme (Brussels, circa 1630 – circa 1657), Saint Jerome, signed lower center: Joost van Hamme Bruxell./Faciebat 1654 xi Apr., oil on canvas, 85 x 118 cm, framed. Estimate EUR 80,000 - EUR 100,000. Realised price EUR 320,500 (USD 360,000)© 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG

Provenance: Private European collection, since at least 1950

Literature: G. Bocchi, U. Bocchi, Naturalia: nature morte in collezioni pubbliche e private, Casalmaggiore 1992, pp. 362–363, pl. 130

The few paintings in the corpus of works by Joost van de Hamme are mostly signed. Bocchi has suggested that he should be called a ‘caravaggesco di buona razza’ – a Caravaggist of good breeding – using a term that derives from the Caravaggio scholar Roberto Longhi to describe the best followers of Caravaggio (see literature). His ability in figurative painting, as well as the importance he placed on compositional structure and the description of still life objects are clearly demonstrated in the present work.

In this composition, it could be argued that the artist indulges himself in the description of the objects displayed. Here, books with crumpled pages, quills and an inkwell clearly exceed the normal iconography used when depicting Saint Jerome, who is mostly shown with a single book. Van de Hamme’s interpretative freedom goes as far as to give the church father an even more cultured and literary character, pertinent for a doctor of the church otherwise known as the ‘Christian Cicero’. The present composition also includes various other symbols that relate to the typical iconography of the Saint. The pilgrim’s staff, the tasseled cardinal’s hat, as well as the skull, are all included, however the lion, which often accompanies the hermit, is not depicted.

The attention given to the rendering of objects in the present composition can be compared to a painting depicting an Old Man with Fruit published by Salerno, which was originally part of a series (see L. Salerno, La natura morta italiana, Rome 1984, p. 408, no. 241). Saint Jerome’s figure is stylistically close to the work of Caravaggio. The attention given to the objects in the composition, lit by strong directional light, suggests a material reality, with the luminous intensity filtered through the pages of the crumpled books, creating the sense of thickness and the consistency of parchment. In this way, the observation of realism in this composition conforms to interest in the cannons of tenebrism, which Van de Hamme may have acquired during a possible stay in Italy, which has been suggested by works such as the present painting.

Paintings from this group also included a Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy, by the highly acclaimed female painter of the 17th century, Artemisia Gentileschi, which reached a total of €442,500. The artist is widely regarded as a leading female Caravaggist painter and an impressive work Bartolomeo Manfredi, The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew made €344,900. 

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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 Ecstasyoil on canvas, 129.8 x 180.4 cm, framed. Estimate € 400,000 - 600,000Realized price EUR 442,500 (USD 500,000). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG.

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Lot 362. Bartolomeo Manfredi (Ostiano 1582–1622 Rome), The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomewoil on canvas, 120 x 150 cm, framed. Estimate € 300,000 - 400,000Realized price EUR 344,900 (USD 390,000). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG.

Cf. my post: Paintings by important Caravaggisti to be offered at Dorotheum Old Master Paintings sale

Another notable result was the €320,500 achieved for the Flemish work, Allegory of the Four Elements by Artus Wolffort. Additional works by female painters were sold, The Discovery of Baby Moses by Elisabetta Sirani (€186,300), and Marriage Allegory by Angelika Kauffmann (€149,700) which was knocked down after a lengthy bidding battle. The third world record of the auction went to Johann Anton Eismann's view of Venice/San Giorgio Maggiore for €100,300

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Lot 329. Artus Wolffort (Antwerp 1581–1641), The Four Elementsoil 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

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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 € 150,000-200,000Realized price EUR 186,300 (USD 210,000 ). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG

Cf. my post: Paintings by important Caravaggisti to be offered at Dorotheum Old Master Paintings sale 

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Lot 419. Angelika Kauffmann (Chur 1741–1807 Rome), Allegory of Conjugal Peace, oil on canvas, 75 x 63.5 cm, framed. Estimate EUR 40,000-60,000Realized price EUR 149,700 (USD 170,000 ). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG

Provenance: Private collection, Great Britain (19th Century); 
Collection of Alfred Straßer (1895–1967), the composer, Vienna; 
Collection of Baron Goldschmidt-Rothschild, Brasil; 
Noble collection, Vienna

Exhibitedpossibly London, Royal Academy, 1779, no. 166; 
Vienna, Secession, XXXVIIth Exhibition of the Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs, 1910, no. 5

We are grateful to Bettina Baumgärtel for confirming the attribution after examination of the present painting in the original and for her help in cataloguing. 

The present painting has been reproduced in prints by Thomas Burke (1748–1815), Conjugal Peace, stipple technique in red chalk, published the 3 May 1779 by W.W. Ryland, London (see also The British Museum collection, no. 1873,0809.269). 

Baumgärtel wrote: ‘The allegory of Conjugal Peace is personified by a female half-length figure in an antique white garment, her right arm supported on a basket that has been placed on a monumental stone pedestal. The basket serves as a straw nest for two pigeons sitting peacefully next to each other. The woman’s headscarf, bound by a golden band at the crown of her head, falls down on one side as a veil, and she holds it with her left hand to cover her breast in a gesture of chastity. Both this very gesture, an allusion to Raphael’s famous Donna Velata, and the headdress, which seem unusual for today’s standards, represent attributes of conjugal chastity. In combination with the headscarf, the pigeons refer to those female virtues that were regarded as absolute prerequisites for a peaceful marriage: chastity, simplicity, and virtuousness. Contemporary viewers were perfectly able to interpret these signs, all the more so as it was considered unbecoming for a married woman until well into the eighteenth century to present herself in public with her head uncovered […]. Kauffmann painted several slightly differing versions of this composition. One of them, which is not identical to the present painting, was still on loan from Marion Davies to the Los Angeles County Museum until several years ago and in 1995 entered the art market. According to the current state of research, the painting exhibited in Vienna in 1910, on the other hand, appears to be identical with the present version, provided that the mezzotint published in Kunst für alle in 1911 was based on the oil painting in the collection of Alfred Straßer.’

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Lot 375. Johann Anton Eismann (Salzburg 1604–1698 Venice) San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, oil on canvas, 108.5 x 145.5 cm, framed. Estimate EUR 80,000-120,000Realized price EUR 100,300 (USD 110,000 ). © 2019 Dorotheum GmbH & Co KG.

We are grateful to Dario Succi for his help in cataloguing the present painting. 

According to Succi the present painting is the only known view painting of Venice by Johann Anton Eismann, as such it is an extremely important addition to the artist’s corpus of works. 

It is known that Eismann played an essential role in the diffusion of landscape painting in Venice during the last quarter of the seventeenth century, but his role in the genre of view-painting has been previously unknown. Eismann was registered in Venice in the fraglia (or guild) of painters from 1687 until 1700 and his works are well represented in the inventories of historic Venetian collections. His battle scenes often offer an expressly northern interpretation of Salvator Rosa’s poetic, while his celebrated seaports are enlivened by characteristic macchiette (or figures) that anticipate those in the paintings of Luca Carlevarijs (1663–1730). 

It is known that Eismann collaborated with the much younger Carlevarijs and this is demonstrated by the presence in the celebrated Venetian collection of Field-Marshal Count Matthias von der Schulenburg of a pair of paintings described in his inventory of 30 May 1738 as follows: ‘Isman, e figure di Carlevari: due quadri compagni rappresentano vedute di mare con bastimenti e un castello’ [‘Isman, and figures by Carlevari: two paintings, a pair, representing sea views with bastions and a castle’]. 

Carlevarijs has been considered the pioneer in the genre of Venetian cityscape or vedute; his paintings were among the earliest Baroque depictions of the city. His celebrated engravings of Venetian views representing the principle places in the city were widely diffused and these images would greatly influence the later work of Canaletto and Francesco Guardi and the entire genre of painting which flourished in the 18th century. Eismann’s role and influence in the diffusion of this imagery needs to be studied further along with the present painting. 

This composition represents the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, surrounded by a multitude of galleons, gondolas and other types of shipping. The church was designed in 1566 by Andrea Palladio and completed in 1610. The bell tower built on a square plan and terminating with a spire is represented according to its form prior to being redesigned in 1727. The foreground is animated by the sumptuous gondola d’oro (golden gondola) of a foreign ambassador with gondoliers dressed in red livery. In the foreground there are elegantly described figures of local dignitaries in their black robes, oriental merchants and porters. 

The present painting is characterised by the lively rendering of atmosphere, its clarity of colour and brilliance of palette, in the striated sky. Echoes of Eismann’s depiction of atmosphere occasionally reoccur even in twentieth century painting as can be seen in the Venetian views of Giorgio De Chirico (see fig. 1).