Previous Posts: September 2020

Podcast: Gainsborough's Ignatius Sancho

September 29 2020

Image of Podcast: Gainsborough's Ignatius Sancho

Picture: BP2

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Black Presence in British Portraiture Network have published a podcast focusing on Thomas Gainsborough's portrait of Ignatius Sancho (National Gallery of Canada).

The podcast is chaired by Gretchen Gerzina Paul Murray Kendall Professor of Biography at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and includes an interview with the actor and writer Paterson Joseph. Joseph has written a play on the sitter's life, which includes Sancho's career as a composer, actor, anti-slavery campaigner who became the first person of African descent to vote in a British General Election.

The podcast is free to listen to via. Spotify.

Update - Today (1st October 2020) Google have payed tribute to Ignatius Sancho in their header icon. The sad irony is that they have picked a portrait of him which many doubt shows Sancho. This painting, catalogued as a Portrait of an African, is by Allan Ramsay and held in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Why didn't Google use the Gainsborough portrait?

$20m - $30m Rembrandt at Sotheby's

September 29 2020

Image of $20m - $30m Rembrandt at Sotheby's

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Sotheby's have just announced that they will be offering Rembrandt's Abraham and the Angels in their January sale in New York. The work, which is signed and dated 1646, will carry an estimate of $20m - $30m. It seems the work will be sold in the same sale as the recently announced $80m Botticelli.

The auction house's press release claims:

This is almost certainly the last opportunity to acquire a painting of a biblical narrative from the Old Testament by Rembrandt, as the only other painting by the artist that depicts a biblical narrative remains in a private collection in the United Kingdom and is subject to British patrimony protection.

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With all of these top paintings coming out of the woodwork for auction, I wonder what will be next? 

 

Update  - Artmarketmonitor.com have published the following information regarding the work's provenance:

The work was last sold at auction in 1848 for just £64 at Christie’s, according to the work’s ownership record. Its first recorded owner in 1647 was Dutch entrepreneur Martin van den Broeck. It changed hands several times, and passed through the collections of Benjamin West and Sir Thomas Baring. For decades the work remained in the Heemstede-base von Pannwitz family collection through descent. It then went to the prominent Old Masters collector Alfred Bader in 2004, and from there it came into the hands of veteran dealer Otto Naumann, who is now Sotheby’s Senior vice President and Client Development Director. The present owner acquired it in 2006.

Memling Donated to Bruges

September 29 2020

Image of Memling Donated to Bruges

Picture: CODART

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

CODART (the international network of curators of Dutch and Flemish art) has announced that a painting by Hans Memling has been donated to the city of Bruges. The above portrait of Francisco de Rojas was generously gifted by John William Middendorf, a former US ambassador to the Netherlands and avid art collector. It will be displayed at the medieval hospital of Saint John in Bruges.

Sleeper Alert!

September 29 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Cabral Moncada Leilões

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

News on Twitter (via. @auctionradar) that this painting of 'The Martyrdom of Saint Peter of Verona' catalogued as 'Spanish School, 17th cent' made €275,000 over its €1,500 estimate at the auction house Cabral Moncada Leilões yesterday. The frame bears an old attribution to Murillo.

Reynolds 3D Printed

September 29 2020

Image of Reynolds 3D Printed

Picture: Factum Foundation

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

This story is a few years old now, but one that might be of interest to readers of AHN. In 2018 Strawberry Hill House, former home of Sir Horace Walpole, commissioned Factum Foundation to create a replica of Joshua Reynolds's The Ladies Waldegrave. The original painting was sold, like much of Walpole's collection, in the nineteenth century thus leaving his neo-gothic house rather empty.

The National Gallery of Scotland's original was scanned and photographed, including the frame, ready to produce a 3D copy that has been put on display in the house. The process can be followed here in a blog produced by the Factum Foundation. This ambitious project was funded in part by the World Monuments Fund.

The scanners have even been able to capture the complex craquelure found in the picture, a hallmark of Reynolds's experimental practise with paints. The overall impression from photographs of the copy is very impressive, although I must reserve judgement as I haven't seen the copy in person.

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It seems likely that 3D copies of artworks is a subject that will become increasingly popular over the next few decades. There are always voices to be found in corners of society calling for paintings to be sold from museums to fund XYZ and replaced with 3D copies. 'No one will be able to tell the difference', they often say.

Of course, it is wonderful that ancient artworks and buildings can be scanned with minute details recorded to allow us to understand them better. But in the act of creation, it feels like something of a deception to go to extraordinary lengths to mislead the eye. Copies of old masters in previous centuries, and casts of sculpture for that matter, didn't make the same claims that these print outs seem to be demonstrating.

In the case of Strawberry Hill House, there is a strong argument to recreate Walpole's aesthetic vision. He never intended anyone to see his rooms empty, so why not recreate the 'look' with reproductions? In such a case, the objects matter less individually one might argue.

To my mind, at least, part of the magic of looking at a painting by an old master is that you are there with the artist. You are there conversing with an object created by a human hand. It may be an amusing novelty to watch and listen to a robot play a Beethoven Sonata on a piano, but is it really the spiritual equivalent to watching a human hand do the same?

Here's Bendor's take on the subject made on this blog in 2017.

Constable Sketch Acquired by Fondation Custodia

September 28 2020

Image of Constable Sketch Acquired by Fondation Custodia

Picture: Fondation Custodia

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Here is some acquisition news that I missed earlier this year. The Fondation Custodia in Paris acquired the above plein air sketch in April by John Constable catalogued as View from the back of a terrace of houses in Hampstead, c.1821-22. The work was acquired through dealers Richard Green.

It will feature in a fabulous travelling exhibition which is due to open at the Fondation Custodia next February. Entitled True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe 1780-1870, the exhibition will then travel to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge opening in Summer 2021.

Sleeper Alert!

September 28 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Wannenes

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

This portrait catalogued as 'Circle of Rembrandt' made €60,000 (hammer price) over its €500 - €800 estimate last week at Wannenes Auctions in Italy. The vigorous brushwork and dark tones suggest to me that it more Italian than Dutch, but click on the link above to see for yourselves.

Huntington Acquires Copley Painting

September 28 2020

Image of Huntington Acquires Copley Painting

Picture: The Huntington Library

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Huntginton Library and Art Museum have acquired a newly discovered painting by John Singleton Copley. The picture of c.1780 depicts the Georgian actress Mrs Mary Robinson. Most famously, her likeness was captured by the likes of Gainsborough (Wallace Collection) and Reynolds (Waddesdon Manor). This painting, however, shows her in a very different guise.

In this portrait we see (as the article linked above explains):

Mrs. Mary Robinson in the Character of a Nun (ca. 1780) is a cabinet portrait, perhaps commissioned by an admirer, of one of Britain's most famous actresses of the late 18th century. Lost for generations until it was sold in 1999 at auction as a French painting of an unknown sitter, the newly identified work portrays Robinson in her role as Oriana in George Farquhar's comedy The Inconstant; or The Way to Win Him, which she performed on the London stage in the spring of 1780.

$80m Botticelli at Sotheby's

September 24 2020

Image of $80m Botticelli at Sotheby's

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Mon Dieu! Sotheby's have announced that they will be offering an $80m work by Sandro Botticelli in their January auction in New York. The portrait of a young man holding a roundel is one of the last great works by the master in private hands, and will carry the largest estimate ever set for an old master at Sotheby's.

The painting's provenance sounds rather intriguing too:

The portrait, Young Man Holding a Roundel, is recorded as being in the collection of Lord Newborough at Caernarfon in Wales in the 1930s. It is believed to have been purchased by his ancestor Sir Thomas Wynn, the first Lord Newborough, while living in Tuscany.

It apparently hung in an anteroom unknown to the outside world, its importance unrecognised. It was bought by a dealer who sold it to a private collector whose heirs sold it at auction to the present owner in 1982 for £810,000.

Over the past 50 years it has had periods of extended loan to the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.

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Once again it is proven that stormy seas can bring unexpected treasures to the shores. It will be interesting to see what state the art market, and the world for that matter, will be in after the November Presidential election.

 

Update - More details have emerged at the end of last week regarding the painting's owner. It has been consigned for sale by the real estate magnate Sheldon Selow. Selow is reported to have purchased the work for $1.3m at auction in 1982. 

Video: Brueghel the Younger's Lampooning

September 23 2020

Video: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The auction house Sotheby's have released this video examining Pieter Brueghel the Younger's The Payment of Tithes, a picture they are currently offering for sale on their Private Sales section. It's rather nice the way it draws together infra-red images together to show the intricate under-drawing.

TEFAF NY goes Online

September 23 2020

Image of TEFAF NY goes Online

Picture: CrownFineArt

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The New York leg of The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF), one of the world's largest art fairs, will be transferring its operations online.

The fair will now run entirely online between 1st - 4th November 2020, with previews starting on 30th October. 283 exhibitors will be taking part, each uploading one single work of art which they are describing as a singular "masterpiece" format. This, we might imagine, will help concentrate buyers minds, as the fair itself is usually the most overwhelming sensory experience (!). The vetting process, one of the foundational elements of the fair, will also all happen online.

Is this a Rubens?

September 23 2020

Image of Is this a Rubens?

Picture: Hammersite

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

This drawing made $24,000 yesterday over its $2k - $4k estimate at Hammersite auctions in Tel Aviv yesterday. The auctioneer had catalogued the Woodland Scene as by 'Peter Paul Rubens'.

I'm not sure what the rules are Israel regarding the legalities of catalogue notes, but, in the UK at least if you are auctioning off a work and giving it to an artist in full (no added 'attributed to' or 'Follower of' etc.) then the buyer has the opportunity of legal recourse if it shown to be otherwise. This is why the big auction houses have so many bits of legal text at the back of their printed catalogues.

The auction house had drawn a comparison to this sheet in the Ashomolean Museum in Oxford, which is a recognised work by Rubens. The work also bore provenance linking it to the Estate of Isidor Kaiser, Copenhagen-Hamburg.

As the old saying goes, Caveat emptor.

Sleeper Alert!

September 23 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Waddingtons.ca

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

A reader has alerted me to this drawing which sold at Waddingtons in Canada yesterday for $15,600 (inc. premium) over its $200 - $300 estimate. It was catalogued as 'Man in his study looking upwards - 18th century Baroque master, French'. Looks like an image of Saint John with his eagle. 

Sotheby's Results

September 23 2020

Image of Sotheby's Results

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The mid-season online sale at Sotheby's London ended today bringing in a total of £1,318,968 (inc. premium) with 82.7% of lots sold.

The stand out result was for the picture above, catalogued as 'Follower of Guido Reni' which realised £189,000 (inc. premium) over its estimate of £7k - £10k. The catalogue states that the painting relates to this original work in the Bob Jones University Collection in South Carolina.

As expected with such low enticing estimates, many paintings did manage to double their low estimates. An estimate after all is something of a psychological game, often engineered to get people involved rather than pass lots by.

Some other notable results were this copy of a De Heem which made £21,240 over its £4k - £6k estimate; a grisaille sketch given to a 'Follower of Van Dyck' which realised £27,720 over its £4k - £6k estimate; two portraits 'attributed to Franz Kessler' which made £56,700 over its £12k - £18k estimate; this eighteenth century Spanish colonial painting which made £20,160 over its £4k - £6k estimate; and this James Pollard of the London to Glasgow Mail Coach which made £20,160 over its £4k - £6k estimate. These are not the most enormous results. But they do show that there is still some health in low to mid-range old master market.

Paris Biennale at Christie's

September 23 2020

Image of Paris Biennale at Christie's

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz

In June I reported the news that this year's Paris Biennale would be replaced with an online sale at Christie's Paris. The catalogue for the Biennale sale has just been uploaded to their website. This diverse sale features old master paintings, antiquities, modernist sculpture and fine furniture from a variety of different periods. It includes lots from some of France's top dealers.

The old master paintings side of things is very well represented. The highlight is the above Summer Harvest by Pieter Bruegel the Younger. Estimated at €400,000 - €600,000, the work has been offered for sale by the gallery owned by the fair's president Georges de Jonckheere. Other artists whose works are up for sale include Jan van Kessel, Herri met de Bles, Jean Baptiste Pater, Marguerite Gerard and Hendrick van Steenwyck the Elder.

Online bidding runs from 24th September - 8th October.

Courtauld Acquires Gaugin Manuscript

September 22 2020

Video: The Courtauld Institute

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Courtauld Institute of Art in London made a splash at the weekend by announcing that it has acquired an important manuscript by the artist Paul Gaugin (1848-1903). The manuscript contains 213 pages worth of drawings, writings and other ephemera. The document was accepted as part of the acceptance in lieu of tax scheme negotiated by Sotheby's.

Here is Waldemar Januszczack's take on the document in his weekly column for the Sunday Times.

Salomon Ruysdael Soars

September 22 2020

Image of Salomon Ruysdael Soars

Picture: Pescheteau Badin

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

This rather unassuming picture by Salomon Ruysdael soared past its estimate of €40,000 - €60,000 today by achieving a €266,770 (inc. premium) at auction in France. It looks like there is an excellent clean in it, which must have tempted bidders. Equally, the Sedelmeyer provenance must have played its part too!

Indian Queens Modelling Vaccine

September 22 2020

Image of Indian Queens Modelling Vaccine

Picture: Sotheby's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The BBC have published an interesting piece of research regarding the above portrait by Thomas Hickey. Dr Nigel Chancellor of Cambridge University has been researching the picture ever since it was offered for sale at Sotheby's in 2007. Through his research into the sitters and the curious pose of the lady on the right, he claims the painting to been an attempt to publicise and promote a smallpox vaccine that had been introduced at the Royal Mysore Court in 1805.

As the article explains:

He identified the woman on the right in the painting as Devajammani, the younger queen. He said her sari would have typically covered her left arm, but it was left exposed so she could point to where she had been vaccinated "with a minimum loss of dignity". 

The woman on the left, he believes, is the king's first wife, also named Devajammani. The marked discoloration under her nose and around her mouth is consistent with controlled exposure to the smallpox virus, Dr Chancellor said. Pustules from patients who had recovered would be extracted, ground to dust and blown up the nose of those who had not had the disease. It was a form of inoculation known as variolation, that was meant to induce a milder infection.

Sleeper Alert!

September 21 2020

Image of Sleeper Alert!

Picture: Great Western Auctions

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The above painting catalogued as 'Manner of Waterhouse' realised £42,000 (hammer price) over its £400 - £600 estimate at Great Western Auctions in Scotland over the weekend. It's well worth clicking on the link above the zoom into the brushstrokes! I'm almost certain that we'll see the picture again.

Christie's October Sales

September 21 2020

Image of Christie's October Sales

Picture: Christie's

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Christie's have published their October Old Master Paintings sale online. This forms part of their New York October Classic week, which also includes the sale of Jayne Wrightsman's collection.

The top lot in the evening sale on 15th October is Ter Brugghen's 'The ill matched lovers' estimated at $2m - $3m. Other interesting lots include the Brooklyn Museum's Cranach of 'Lucretia' is estimated at $1.2m - $1.8m (pictured); a fine Govaert Flinck of an officer in a gorget carries an estimate of $700k - $900k; a newly discovered El Greco portrait bears an estimate of $1m - $1.5m; A rare Jacopo Bellini of the Virgin and Child estimated at $600k - $1m; a energetic Triumph of Galatea by Artemisia Gentileschi carries as estimate of $1m - $1.5m; and a fine Van Dyck of John Count of Nassau-Siegen that won the praise of Reynolds estimated at $800k - $1.2m.

The 'day sale', which will take place in the form of an online auction between 1 - 20 October , hasn't been uploaded yet but can be found here.

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