The New York viewings

January 23 2011

Here are some of the pictures I liked and didn’t like in the Christie’s and Sotheby’s sales. Generally a good offering, with Sotheby’s having the better pick of the two. If you have queries about anything else, please get in touch.

In catalogue order, pictures I liked were;


Lot 8 – Portrait of the Duke of Suffolk. This is a first-rate Tudor portrait, in good condition, by the ‘Master of the Brandon Portrait’ and painted in c.1530. I’ll be delighted if it sells, but at $300,000-$500,000, the estimate is a little high. 

Lot 9 – Studio of Cranach the Elder, portrait of Frederick III. One of many replicas, but well painted, nice condition, and a low estimate.

Lot 18 – A newly discovered Van Dyck portrait. Rather ‘topped’ in parts, but at an estimate of $20,000-$30,000 you can’t go wrong, even with that sitter.

Lot 34 – John Constable, copy of a Ruisdael. Rare thing. Interesting that he signed it ‘Ruisdael’. High estimate. 

Lot 35 – Wright of Derby, portrait of Charles Heathcote. Wright at his impasto best. Incredible condition. Not that dissimilar to the portrait of Robert Shore Miles, which went way above estimate at Sotheby’s NY in 2008, selling for $7,208,000.

Lot 24 – Pompeo Batoni, Venus Caressing Cupid. A rare mythological painting by Batoni. Good condition. Reasonable estimate. 

Lot 118 – Portrait Attributed to Michael Sittow. Great image, beautifully drawn head, probably a low estimate. 

Lot 161 – A gem of an early Romney. Good condition, cheap estimate.

Pictures I wasn’t so keen on;

Lot 4 – Jacob van Ruisdael; condition appeared to be a little problematic.

Lot 44 – Canaletto; great picture, but at $2,500,000-$3,500,000 on the steep side.

Lot 121 – ‘Attributed to Van Dyck’; strange picture, far from Van Dyck, I’d say, and probably not even 17th Century.

Lots 163-167 – the set of Romney portraits. There is something not quite right about these. Have they all been badly restored some time ago?



Keen on;

Lot 109 – Girolamo da Carpi Madonna and Child. This is a strange looking da Carpi, and the catalogue entry says as much. Personally, I think it looks more like a knackered Parmigianino. 

Lot 113 – Perino del Vaga, Holy Family. Fine image, nice enough condition. There’s a bit of a buzz about this one, so expect it to go over estimate. 

Lot 120 – Jacob Jordaens, St Andrew. Beautifully painted, Jordaens at his early best. 

Lot 135 – Greuze portrait. Greuze at his best. Worth the $400,000 - $600,000 estimate. 

Lot 137 – Giampietrino, Madonna and child. Fine image. As close as you get to a late Leonardo for under a $1million. 

Lot 225 – “Attributed to Corneille de Lyon”. Surely right. 

Lot 302 – Venetian School, portrait of an Old Woman. No idea who painted this, but it’s stunning. 

Lot 309 – Perronneau portrait. Unusual to get these in good state. Cheap at $40,000 - £60,000

Not so keen on;

Lot 131 – Attributed to Parmigianino and Workshop portrait of Charles V. Curious picture. I think it tends more towards the Workshop end of the attribution. 

Lot 156 – Titian, Sacra Conversazione. Amazing history, glorious overall image. And yet… strangely underwhelming. Is it the cursory drapery? Is it the misunderstood features of the restored St Catherine, which makes her profile seem incongruous? I’m not sure what it is, but I struggle to like it as much as the estimate tells me I should. 

Lot 193 – Kauffmann portrait. I’m a great Kauffmann fan, but at $250,000 - $350,000 this is too expensive. 

Lot 269 – “Studio of Van Dyck”. Probably a later copy instead. 

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