1500 Between Last Supper and Mona Lisa
2017 SOLD for $ 450M including premium
The picture shows Christ holding the orb of the world in his left hand and blessing with the raised fingers of his right hand. The mystical message without the divine attribute of the halo competes with the holy shrouds recognized as authentic at his time while adding attitude and gesture. The orb that prophesies the rescue of the world is a reflective crystal ball through which the viewer perceives the palm of the hand.
This painting had belonged to King Charles I of England. It was probably hanging in the private apartments of Queen Henriette who was born in the French royal family. Its previous whereabouts are unknown. A possible hypothesis is a French royal order during the Italian wars. King Louis XII was so impressed by the Last Supper that he wanted to take the wall to France.
The analyzes provided a lot of information on the realization and history of this painting. The perfection of the expression is concentrated in the lips and the gaze, anticipating the Mona Lisa. The mouth was drawn by the technique of pierced drawing used by other great masters of that time including Raphael and Andrea del Sarto. One of the eyes was softened by a spread of color pushed by the wrist of the artist.
Leonardo cared little for the supporting materials. The conservation woes of the Last Supper are famous. The original panel of Salvator Mundi was early split because of a knot in the wood. The accident caused awkward repainting on the face. Anonymous owners then extended these repaints to the point that only peripheral regions including the hands were still visible in their original quality.
All of that has been conscientiously repaired. Fortunately the sfumato remained in very good condition under the disagreeable layers that were removed. This signature Leonardo technique makes it possible to compare the Salvator Mundi with the Mona Lisa which is the culmination of his art. The perfectionist preparation of his paintings could last several years. A date around 1500 is plausible for the Salvator Mundi.
Christ the savior of the world by Leonardo, oil on panel 66 x 46 cm, will be sold by Christie's in New York on November 15, lot 9 B. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1505 The Best Artists from Ghent and Bruges
2014 SOLD 13.6 M$ uncluding premium
One of these masterpieces is known as the Rothschild Prayerbook. It was sold for £ 8.6 million including premium at Christie's on July 8, 1999. It is estimated $ 12M, for sale by Christie 's in New York on January 29.
It is a book of hours for the use of Rome (meaning that is based on Roman liturgy), made around 1505 in Ghent or Bruges. In a small format 23 x 16 cm, this book with 252 leaves in luxurious vellum includes 67 large illustrations.
From an iconographic point of view, it is a fabulous collection of religious and liturgical scenes, showing in very fresh colors the life and customs of its time. Decorative borders offer an extended variety of topics.
The styles of these images clearly show that several workshops have co-operated, and comparison with other manuscripts and paintings can identify that it was made by the most renowned artists of their time. Their co-operation in such collective artworks was an extraordinary and unique business of which no direct witnessing has surfaced.
The main illustrators of the Rothschild Prayerbook were Gerard Horenbout who worked at Ghent and Alexander Bening, a member of the guilds of Bruges and Ghent. Simon Bening, son of Alexander, to whom a few images are attributed, will be the last great Flemish illuminator. The style of Gerard David, the leading painter in Bruges at that time, is recognized on several images.
POST SALE COMMENT
This masterpiece reaches once again a great price : $ 13.6M including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Christie's :
1510 The Codex Leicester of Leonardo da Vinci
1994 SOLD for $ 31M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Leonardo is neither a scientist nor an engineer in the modern meaning of these terms. He does not waste his time analyzing the consequences of his theories or conceiving the realization of his inventions. In his swarming of ideas, he could be wonderfully right and naively wrong, and he was certainly unable to distinguish between these two extremes.
For this left-hander, the mirror writing is the way he has found so that his thinking is not slowed down by his hand. The use of numerous abbreviations, which makes these texts extremely difficult to decipher, is consistent with this hypothesis. We will never know how he desired exploiting such a unique mass of informations.
These writings were later assembled into notebooks, identified under the more technical term of codex. The Codex Leicester is the only one remaining in private hands. It was sold twice by Christie's, for $ 5.1M on December 12, 1980 and for $ 31M including premium on November 11, 1994. Between these two sales it was named the Codex Hammer. It was bought by Bill Gates at the last auction. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
The Codex Leicester is made up of 18 double sheets of parchment for a total of 72 pages 22 x 30 cm. It brings together his notes written around 1510 on the theme of the water movements. The author imagines that his ideas could be used for the design of bridges.
His observation on the presence of fossils in the mountains brings an explanation far ahead of his time : they were originally in a seabed which was raised by a geophysical phenomenon. This hypothesis is all the more remarkable since the monotheistic religions of his time do not question the creationism.
In the same notebook, he explains the luminosity of the Moon by the reflection of sunlight on its surface entirely covered with water.
1508-1511 Raphael and the Vatican Muse
2009 SOLD 29.1 M£ including premium
The author of the work we are discussing today is Raphael, the youngest of the three. For five centuries, all the art critics have praised him and noted the perfection of his paintings. His works were the subject of preparatory drawings very sharp, detailed and contrasted, at the exact size he wanted for the final motif.
Knowing the above, we understand better why some drawings are composite, for example hand and head . But the black chalk drawing 30.5 x 22.2 cm that Christie's will sell in London on December 8 is more important.
This pretty young woman head with flying hair in full frame is a preparation for a character of a Muse. It still have the perforations made by the artist to project the outline through the paper on the frescoes of the Vatican (1508 to 1511). It is estimated 12 million pounds.
This sale passionates the press. Here are the articles shared by Bloomberg, by Guardian and by Telegraph.
POST SALE COMMENT
We were here in the presence of a real historical work, because of the role played by this drawing in the process of decoration of the Vatican.
The result is also historical from the point of view of auction.
Sold £ 29.1 million including premium, it is the world record for a work on paper, and the second highest price for a work of ancient art, according to the information provided by Christie's.
#Raphael was #BornOnThisDay in 1483. In 2009, we offered an auxiliary sketch by #Raphael. The drawing, one of the best of Raphael’s surviving sketches set a #WorldAuctionRecord for a work on paper at £29,161,250 https://t.co/GDloR0vDil pic.twitter.com/pfYMt2hbGe— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) April 6, 2019
1514 Cristo della Minerva by Michelangelo
2000 SOLD for £ 8.1M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
From 1505, Michelangelo is in Rome. His patron, with whom relations are often difficult, is Pope Julius II, who is reconstructing Saint Peter's Basilica around the project of his monumental tomb, the execution of which is entrusted to Michelangelo. It was also during this period that Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine chapel.
Julius II died in 1513. While waiting for instructions from his heirs to continue or not working on the funerary monument, Michelangelo accepted commitments from other clients.
In 1514 he receives an order for a life-size Redeemer Christ for adorning a funeral altar in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. This Christ will be standing, passionately holding the cross in a total nudity which will attest to his purity.
Michelangelo is very enthusiastic, understandably, for this project which is perfectly matching his fervent but somewhat risque conception of Christian piety. According to his usual practice, he begins to prepare drawings of high graphic accuracy to anticipate shapes and lights. Many of these sketches were destroyed by the artist himself because they disclosed too much information about his know-how.
A 24 x 21 cm double-sided preparatory drawing intermingling figures for the Cristo della Minerva has survived. The side commonly considered as the back is certainly the first. It includes a study of legs and feet. On the other side, the body serves as a support for a crosshatched study of the textures of the abdomen. This drawing was sold for £ 8.1M including premium by Christie's on July 4, 2000, lot 83.
Two marble statues of this vigorous Christ were made. The first, autograph, was abandoned after the chiseling of the left cheek revealed a black vein in the marble. The second, damaged by clumsy apprentices, ended up being guaranteed as authentic by Michelangelo, not without reluctance. It was described as mirabilissima by Vasari. At the time of the Counter-Reformation, the Catholics will add the stigmata, as well as a bronze loincloth to hide the sexual organs.
1518 Portrait of Lorenzo II de' Medici by Raphael
2007 SOLD for £ 18.5M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Lorenzo must therefore be married. The pope promotes a French alliance and the choice falls on Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne, a cousin of King François I, in 1517. This marriage was political and the future newlyweds had obviously never met. Portraits will be exchanged during the preparation of this union.
The portrait of Lorenzo was entrusted at the beginning of 1518 to Raphael, a native of Urbino. The matter is urgent. The artist chooses the oil on canvas, which allows a faster execution than the wooden panel. The prince is seen in three quarter length, slightly turned to his right, the gaze directed towards the spectator. He is sumptuously dressed in brocade, velvet and fur. He holds in his hand a gold box supposedly decorated with a miniature portrait of his future wife.
This commission is of great political importance and there is no doubt that this painting is autograph by Raphael. The portrait of Lorenzo reached Paris in March in a convoy of gifts carried by 36 horses. The reciprocal portrait of Madeleine had arrived in Florence in the previous month. The marriage is celebrated on May 2 at the Château d'Amboise.
The original autograph painting, 97 x 78 cm, authenticated by modifications revealed by infrared photography, was sold for £ 18.5M including premium by Christie's on July 5, 2007, lot 91. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
The glory of this prince was overrated. He had not won the war against the Della Rovere. He died in 1519 of syphilis, possibly contracted during his wedding trip. Madeleine had died a few days before him, two weeks after the birth of their only daughter who will become the French queen Catherine de Médicis.
1520 Study for the Transfiguration
2012 SOLD 29.7 M£ including premium
Working directly for popes, cardinals and the powerful Medici family, Raphael manages a workshop of fifty artists whose production is prolific, but he himself designs the artworks, performs the preparation and executes the most important paintings.
The fashion of the time is for large-size frescoes and altar paintings prepared by innumerable drawings. Once the artist is satisfied with the composition, he pierces the latest drawings to transfer the lines into the final work. The pierced modello drawing of the head of a Vatican Muse was sold £ 29.1 million including premium at Christie's on December 8, 2009.
On December 5 in London, Sotheby's sells a drawing in black chalk, 38 x 28 cm, from the collection of the Dukes of Devonshire. It is illustrated in the article shared by Bloomberg.
This head of an apostle in meditation was made during the preparation of the Transfiguration, that huge oil on canvas, 405 x 278 cm, unfinished at the untimely death of the artist.
Completed by his studio, this monumental painting marks a turning point in Western art. The composition in two registers is bold. Above, Christ enters the light. The bright representation of the event is an iconographic challenge which anticipates Rembrandt.
Down on Earth, the apostles are attending a miracle by Christ, each one reacting in his own way. The care taken in the empathy between these men is announcing Mannerism and Baroque art.
The drawing for sale is not final and has not been pierced. This is a beautiful portrait of expression, with very nice thin line. It is estimated £ 10M.
POST SALE COMMENT
On December 8, 2009, a perforated drawing by Raphael showing the head of a Muse was sold £ 29.1 million including premium.
The head of a young apostle got an almost identical price: £ 29.7 million including premium. It is a great success for its owner, the Duke of Devonshire, possessor at Chatsworth of one of the best art collections in the world.
I invite you to play the videos shared by Sotheby's :
ca 1520s A Child Prodigy in Leiden
2018 SOLD for £ 11.5M including premium
A pupil of Cornelis, Lucas Hugensz is skilled for graphic arts. From his adolescence, he shows a great maturity. Beginning in 1508, his engraved work is important, with an abundance and sharpness of details and a beauty of contrasts that have enthralled Dürer. The colors of his paintings are the brightest of his time. He is known as Lucas van Leyden.
Lucas was born in Leiden. It is believed that his father was a painter. His date of birth is questioned. We do not know how he learned engraving or after whom he specialized in his genre scenes animated by crowds of characters. He married in Leiden in 1515 and died in 1533 at about 40 years old.
His biography is blurred by his praise by van Mander, born fifteen years after the death of Lucas, who could however have collected the memories of direct witnesses. Lucas appears passionate about his art from his childhood, working day and night until the exhaustion that will shorten his life.
The autograph works by Lucas van Leyden are extremely rare at auction. On December 4 in London, Christie's sells as lot 60 a 28 x 13 cm black chalk drawing of a richly dressed young man standing, probably a study for a detail of a composition that has not been identified. The watermark is known in Netherlands and Germany in the 1520s and 1530s.
This drawing belonged to the Rugby School and is sold for the benefit of its educational program. The September 10 press release announces an estimate in the region of £ 1.5M.
On 4 December Christie’s will present 'Old Masters/New Scholars: Works of Art to Benefit Rugby School,' led by a rare drawing by the Dutch Old Master painter and printmaker Lucas van Leyden.— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) October 7, 2018
Find out more about the sale here:https://t.co/AYcX38U2C7 pic.twitter.com/qNFrXbi61L
later 1520s The Ordeal of the Lion
2015 SOLD for £ 9.3M including premium
The artist transposes a medieval ordeal with characters in clothes of his time. The mouth of truth is a lie detecting test to convict or release the adulteress. Included in the legends of Tristan and Iseult and Merlin, this story was previously used by illustrators including Altdorfer and Lucas van Leyden.
Each character has a role. The woman puts a hand in the mouth of the lion raised on a pedestal to be at her level. She is held at the waist by her supposed lover disguised as a fool. Two men wait to establish the minutes of justice.
The alleged cuckolded husband is on the far right of the picture, opposite to the lion. He is accompanied by two lovely ladies who are his witnesses. At his side, a last character sends a wink of complicity towards the viewer of the painting.
This is not a comic book and the verdict of the lion is not known. The lack of fear in the attitude of the woman tells that she wants to win the ordeal. The scene becomes a funny symbol of feminine cunning.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's :
1529 Portrait of a Halberdier by Pontormo
1989 SOLD for $ 35 M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
The Portrait of a Halberdier is an oil (or oil and tempera) on panel transferred to canvas 95 x 73 cm. This arrogant young man with a smooth and beardless face who is bulging his chest to the limit does not look like an infantry soldier. He is too richly dressed : he is an aristocrat.
By its military theme, this image enters into the context of the siege of Florence by the imperial armies in 1529. This date is all the more plausible as it corresponds to the period of greatest creativity of Pontormo, who will soon cease to resist his mental disorders.
Under these conditions, the young man is probably Francesco Guardi, aged fifteen. The wearing of the halberd would be a pun associated with the function of guardian evoked by his patronym.
The Portrait of a Halberdier was sold for $ 35M including premium by Christie's on May 31, 1989. It was purchased at this sale by the J. Paul Getty Museum. The image is shared by Wikimedia. Because of its great pictorial quality, experts want to recognize in this portrait a work that was specifically admired by Vasari.
1532 Game of Life in Antwerp
2019 SOLD for $ 10M including premium
Jan Sanders van Hemessen was received in 1524 at the Guild of Saint Luke of Antwerp where he joined Quentin Massys. A friend of Erasmus, Massys had introduced the grotesque into his religious and secular scenes. Much ahead of its time, the Lender and his wife, painted in 1511 by Massys, shows two characters captured in a moment of their professional activity.
Van Hemessen's creativity is very innovative. He is the first to practice what was later called the Mannerist inversion, which consisted of relegating the religious scene to the background for devoting the foreground to a scene of daily life with the clothes of his time.
Often the religious action disappears, replaced by an accumulation of symbols that are no longer comprehensible to the observer of today but allows all fantasies, such as to apply to an angel the very colorful wings of a butterfly. By his frequent use of an instant narrative, van Hemessen is the founder of the Flemish genre painting and anticipates Bruegel's proverbs.
On May 1 in New York, Christie's sells a 111 x 128 cm oil on panel painted by van Hemessen in 1532, lot 7 estimated $ 4M.
This life-size half-length double portrait shows a man and a woman in a cozy interior. Richly dressed, they certainly belong to the Antwerp bourgeoisie. They are seated at a table centered by the board of a game which is a precursor to the backgammon.
These two characters discuss an element of the on-going game. The forefinger of the woman is pointing to two dice that have just revealed their number. They look at each other with a loving smile. Several elements, including the rings on the fingers and a quince freshly cut for sharing, evoke their marriage. Some other symbols are religious.
Please watch the video prepared by Christie's in which this painting is discussed by its consignor the minimalist artist Frank Stella.
Jiajing - The Carps of the Heavenly Pond
2017 SOLD for HK$ 214M including premium
The progress of Jingdezhen porcelain is restarting with the Jiajing emperor, an art lover and an adept of Taoism. Becoming emperor at the age of 14 in 1522, Jiajing reigned for 45 years. Large pieces are made under his rule, using the bright color palette identified as wucai. Wucai literally means five enamels, five having here a meaning of plurality adjusted to the five elements
This emperor liked to state that he was the fisherman of the heavenly pond. The pattern with fish swimming amidst aquatic plants enables a pleasing interweaving of the drawings on the walls of the jars and Jiajing himself promotes this theme by massive commissions. The details of the themes are related to homophonic rebuses bringing to the emperor the auspices that he so much enjoyed.
A 46 cm high jar with its cover is one of the biggest pieces of that type. It is animated by carps of two different sizes. The suspension of the fish in water allows various attitudes. The porcelain was first painted with the classical underglaze blue. The other colors were added over the glaze. Experts believe that three firings have been necessary.
Pieces which are still with their original cover are very rare in private hands. This one was sold for HK $ 44M including premium by Sotheby's on October 29, 2000, a very high price at that time for a Chinese porcelain. It will be sold by Christie's in Hong Kong on November 27, lot 8006. Please watch the video shared by Christie's.
1560 Quiet Mysticism of Titian
2011 SOLD 16.9 M$ including premium
At the end of his life, his creativity is much alive, but he has nothing more to prove to increase his fame. Painter of sensuality and characters, he became the painter of the passions.
Circa 1560, he painted A Sacra Conversazione, also known as the Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine. We really catch the intelligence being transferred between the Child Jesus, held by his mother, and Catherine of Alexandria. The Child is active and friendly, Catherine is serious and focused, the Madonna encourages the movement of Jesus. St Luke, standing, is carefully watching.
This large painting on canvas, 128 x 170 cm, is estimated $ 15M, for sale at Sotheby's in New York on January 27. It is illustrated on the press release shared by Artdaily.
There is no doubt about the importance of this work. Already in the 1620s, it had the honor to draw the attention of Van Dyck, who made a sketch of it in a notebook now preserved at the British Museum.
POST SALE COMMENT
As expected, this beautiful Titian dominated the week of ancient art sales in New York. Sold $ 16.9 million including premium, it does not, however, exceed its estimate.
I invite you to play the video shared on the web by Sotheby's. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1582-1972 Peregrination of a Pearl
2011 SOLD 11.8 M$ including premium
It entered in 1582 into the Spanish royal collection, where it was considered as the biggest pearl in the world. Pear-shaped, it was then weighing 223 grains.
Mary I of England, wife of Philip II of Spain, used it very elegantly as a pendant to a brooch. Philip IV of Spain preferred it as a hat pin. It went to France during the Spanish war of Joseph Bonaparte, and Napoleon III sold it to the English aristocracy.
This wandering pearl has been known for two centuries under the name La Peregrina. It lost twenty grains when it was reworked to improve the security of its setting.
Richard Burton bought it in 1969 at Sotheby's auction as a gift to Elizabeth Taylor.
It was mounted as pendant in a pearl necklace that did not please its new owners. Burton and Taylor then made designed by Cartier in 1972 the magnificent necklace of pearls, rubies and diamonds, where it is again hanging as pendant.
This necklace, estimated $ 2M, is for sale on December 13 in New York by Christie's., lot 12.
POST SALE COMMENT
This is a new successful step in the fabulous history of the pearl. Sold $ 11.8 million including premium, its necklace achieved the highest result in one of the best jewelry sales in auction history: total $ 116M including premium for only 80 lots.