Michael Jaffé Paintings at Christie's

July 23 2020

Image of Michael Jaffé Paintings at Christie's

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Christie's will be auctioning off several paintings that belonged to the late Michael Jaffé (1923-1997) later this month. Jaffé was one of the great scholars on the Flemish School. His published works on artists such as Rubens and Van Dyck are widely used by art historians to this day.

Two panels which are of interest are the above, which are catalogued as 'Circle of Van Dyck' (LEFT) and 'Circle of Rubens' (RIGHT) respectively. You'll be able to see from the catalogue notes that the attribution of these two sketches has changed a lot over the years. In regards to the 'Rubens' panel, it seems that Jaffé had actually published the picture as a Rubens in full in 1989. The 'Van Dyck' sketch was exhibited at Agnew's in 1968 and given to the artist in full. It seems that scholarship has since downgraded both of these works.

Obviously, we cannot expect scholars to be infallible with their judgements. Attributions have the ability to change over time and it is sometimes difficult to be entirely objective about a picture that you're attached to. It would be interesting to read exactly what he thought about the quality of the paintings. I'm sure a description is given in his 1989 publication (which I don't have access to at the moment).

Another of his paintings in the sale is this very fine Guercino of Saint Alexius, which carries an estimate of £50k - £80k.

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