Ancient Painting by Women
Chronology : 1630-1639 1680-1699 1700-1709 1780-1789
1607 Fruit and Jasmine in Milan
2019 SOLD for $ 2.4M including premium
Her contemporaries did not pay attention to her still lifes of fruit. She is the pioneer of this pictorial genre that will become more important over the centuries, culminating with Cézanne and Gauguin. Her intention with this innovation has not been documented. For her predecessors including Caravaggio, this theme was only a modello to be introduced into animated compositions.
In 1998 an oil on panel 31 x 45 cm surfaced. It is the only still life by Galizia that is signed, with the monogram FG, and dated, 1607. The date is significant : in the previous year Jan Brueghel created his first paintings of bouquets of flowers to satisfy the naturalistic taste of the archbishop of Milan.
This dated painting offers a symmetrical composition, broken only by the arrangement of some fruits placed directly on the table, the others being raised in a transparent tazza. The lighting is frontal, unlike the light studies that will soon be done by Claesz and Heda in their breakfast paintings. In this simple composition, the highest care is given to the texture of the fruits.
Galizia's corpus of still lifes often includes autograph copies. The dated version is certainly a prototype, and perhaps even the earliest of them. This composition of peaches and quinces along with a few jasmine flowers was sold for £ 1.56M including premium by Sotheby's on July 8, 2015.
A very similar painting mostly differentiated by the appearance of a grasshopper was sold for $ 1.64M including premium by Christie's on April 6, 2006. The catalog of the auction house indicated a pristine state bringing a crystalline sharpness. This oil on panel 31 x 43 cm is estimated $ 2M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 30, lot 42.
Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
<< 1630 The Beautiful Fruit of Fede Galizia
2018 SOLD for $ 2.1M including premium
Federico Borromeo becomes archbishop of Milan in 1595. He is one of the greatest helpers in the history of art, for whom Jan Brueghel the Elder creates in 1606 the theme of the still life of flowers. In 1607 he lays the foundation of the Ambrosian Library, inaugurated in 1609, for promoting the humanist values.
The cardinal presents to his new library the Canestra di frutta painted by Caravaggio. This undated painting is a very rare example for its time of a still life without figure, probably designed by the artist as a modello for some details in his vanity scenes.
On July 8, 2015, Sotheby's sold for £ 1.56M including premium a still life of fruit monogrammed FG, 31 x 43 cm oil on panel dated 1607. It is the only known still life that has been dated by Fede Galizia. Four replicas are listed.
The composition is simple and effective, with peaches in a crystal stemmed basket and quinces on the table top. One of the quinces is sliced. Much better than flowers, this theme allows the study of the texture and also of the light that is reflected on the skin of a quince.
The Milanese influence is indisputable but the still lifes by Fede Galizia express her tendency to an extreme realism, unrelated to vanities. It is possible that she chose this unprecedented theme to escape the competition that should occur with male artists on more classical subjects. She opens the way to Clara Peeters and Louyse Moillon. Apart from her clients, she receives little attention and the rest of her work is not datable. She died unmarried in 1630.
On February 1 in New York, Sotheby's sells a pair of oils on panels 27 x 39 cm each, lot 20 estimated $ 2M. The composition is broadly similar to the example above, with on each picture the fruits in a porcelain basket and on a stone ledge. The greater variety of fruit dominated by opulent clusters of grapes and the introduction of a wasp demonstrate that this pair is an evolution from the seminal modello dated 1607.
The high quality of these two paintings suggests that they also were modelli, and they were designed by the artist to stay together : an identical pair on canvas in the same dimension dissociated by Sotheby's on December 12, 1984 was certainly a replica.
1629 Wild Youth in Haarlem
2018 SOLD for £ 1.8M including premium
This quote shows that the rigorous Protestant also had a broad mind : Leyster was specialized in genre scenes with adolescent revelers who dance to the sound of the violin. They are still young enough to laugh and have fun.
Earlier in the same decade, the Caravaggisti of Utrecht had returned from Rome and celebrated the scenes of low life, often with musicians. While promoting Leyster, Ampzing also highlighted her nice characters closer to carnival and to Commedia dell'Arte.
On December 6 in London, Christie's sells an oil on canvas 75 x 63 cm painted circa 1629, lot 12 estimated £ 1.5M. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Three boys in colorful clothes, including a violinist and a toast drinker, laugh out loud. In the corner of the window, two very young children and an adult enjoy with them. Leyster's art is spontaneous, without a preliminary drawing, as Frans Hals and Rembrandt were doing.
The young violinist is one of her favorite characters. In 1633, probably for her reception at the local guild, she painted a self-portrait with an image of this performer on her easel.
Getting then the right to open a workshop with apprentices, she appears as a rival to Hals. The traditional attribution to Hals of many works painted by Leyster has blurred the appreciation of these two artists very different from each other. The creative activity of Leyster almost completely ceases when she marries Molenaer in 1636.
1629 Fruit Baskets by Louyse Moillon
2016 SOLD for € 1.14M including premium
Louyse's widowed mother remarries in 1620 with the painter François Garnier. Louyse completes her apprenticeship with François, emphasizing the theme of the fruit basket. Louyse was precociously gifted and it is likely that these two young people who were only ten years old apart have influenced each other.
On 27 June 2013, Sotheby's sold for € 1,03M including premium an oil on panel 51 x 71 cm signed by Louyse Moillon, dated 1629, showing peaches in a basket of china. The artist was not yet 20 years old. The catalog stated that it was her earliest dated work. She was undoubtedly in her own right a pioneer of still life in France.
A basket of quetsches (plums) by Louyse, 40 x 52 cm, of same technique and same date, resurfaced. It is estimated € 450K for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on June 16, lot 24.
Fruits and basket are different but the composition is similar, centered with a geometric rigor. Fruits are accumulated without individuality, which is a notable difference from the still lifes of flowers and enables to concentrate the artistic care onto the texture. The subtle shades of the plums and the velvety surface of the peaches reach a realism that anticipates Chardin by a century.
I do not think that we should attribute this strict style to the Calvinist austerity. On the following year, Louyse tried larger formats where multiple baskets are displayed or accompanied by a young woman. However, by their simplicity and effectiveness, these paintings from 1629 that were more likely her modelli appear as the masterpieces of the artist.
1630s A Beautiful Sacrifice
2019 SOLD for € 4.8M including premium
Lucretia is the raped lady who refused the defilement and whose exemplary suicide led to the fall of the Roman monarchy and the creation of the republic. This legend is painted throughout Artemisia's career. Feminists of our time like to suggest a parallel between the Roman woman and the life of the artist, but this assimilation is not confirmed by in period documents.
Artemisia had very early painted the female nudes. Her style reaches its greatest maturity from 1630 when she works in Naples. The bodies become more carnal, less schematized. In the case of Lucretia, she makes the spectator regret that such a beautiful lady has chosen to die.
An oil on canvas 133 x 106 cm was sold for € 1,9M including premium by Dorotheum on October 23, 2018. Another variant, 97 x 75 cm, is estimated € 600K for sale by Artcurial in Paris on November 13, lot 36.
These two paintings have many similarities. The model is probably the same woman. The diagonal composition with a well-lit body in front of a black background gives a Caravaggesque impetus to this dramatic action. The head which is turned to prevent that a perception disrupts the sacrifice is classic in the imagery of Lucretia.
There are also differences. The rich garment that covers the lower body is characterized by its bright colors on the specimen of Dorotheum and by the fineness of the white embroidery on the specimen of Artcurial. The movement of the Dorotheum Lucretia is theatrical : the blade is still far away, held by a horizontally stretched arm. The attitude of the Artcurial Lucretia is more natural, with a bent arm that directs the dagger toward the skin just before the fatal piercing.
The oil on canvas for sale by Artcurial is in an exceptional state of preservation. In the video shared by the auction house, the expert Eric Turquin shows that the emotion wets the eyelashes of the heroine, a very rare effect that is worthy of Rubens in my opinion.
1640 Baroque Lucretia
2018 SOLD for € 1.9M including premium
She is also interested in figures of women from real or legendary history such as Cleopatra or Lucretia at the moment of their suicide. She certainly does not identify her fate with Lucretia shown as a matron in an oil on canvas painted around 1620.
Another oil on canvas 133 x 106 cm on the theme of Lucretia is formally attributed to Artemisia in 2015 after being kept since the mid-nineteenth century in an Italian collection. The best connoisseurs of the artist propose a date circa 1640-1645 or slightly earlier. This artwork is estimated € 500K for sale by Dorotheum in Vienna on October 23, lot 56.
The new Lucretia is much younger and dressed in brightly colored drapery. Her extremely dynamic Baroque attitude is very similar to a painting on the same theme made around 1625 by Simon Vouet whom Artemisia had met when they were both in Rome. The dagger is held at arm's length, directed straight to the bare chest in a gesture that leaves no doubt about its fatal outcome.
The image is shared by the auction house in the August 22 press release (Courtesy of Dorotheum). Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1649 Triumph of Galatea by Artemisia Gentileschi
2020 SOLD for $ 2.13M including premium by Christie's
1698 Still Life with Flowers by Rachel Ruysch
2021 SOLD for $ 2.2M including premium by Sotheby's
#AuctionUpdate: This exquisite still life painted in 1698 by Rachel Ruysch, one of the most successful still-life artists of the Dutch Golden Age and the first female Netherlandish artist to win international recognition, sells for $2.2 million pic.twitter.com/Horcmmx340— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) January 28, 2021
1700 The Daughter of the Botanist
2012 SOLD 1.7 M$ including premium
At the time of the cabinets of curiosities, the botanist Frederik Ruysch accumulated a large collection of plants.
Rachel Ruysch, his daughter, had a fine talent as a painter. She began her career very young, which was not unusual at that time. All along her life, in parallel to her duties as wife and mother, she devoted herself to still lifes of flowers with nice and varied colors. Her professional abilities were recognized in 1701 when she was admitted to the painters' guild in The Hague.
Dated 1700, a painting shows an opulent bouquet in a vase on a stone ledge, with a few insects. This work, 110 x 90cm, is of large size for this artist.
Its provenance is prestigious. In 1857 it was sold by Christie and Mason in Alton Towers at the estate sale of the young Earl of Shrewsbury. This auction was one of the most prestigious of its century, with a catalog of 4000 lots. The 700 paintings covered the top names in the history of art. The auction lasted five weeks.
It is now estimated $ 200K, for sale by Butterscotch on February 12 in Bedford Village NY. Here is the link to the catalog on the auction platform LiveAuctioneers.
POST SALE COMMENT
This large format artwork whose provenance is well documented got a great price: $ 1.7 million before fees. This result is also highly remarkable by the fact that it was recorded in an estate sale, far from the excitement of major international auction groups.
1781 The Académies of Madame Le Brun
2019 SOLD for € 1.45M including premium
Now known as Madame Le Brun, she is seeking admission to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, in the specialty of history painting. The stakes are bold, both because she is a woman and because she is the wife of an art dealer.
Customers follow. The comte d'Artois, the youngest brother of the king, is at that time a libertine who likes the risqué scenes in the style of Boucher who had died a few years earlier. Vigée-Le Brun presents him as a modello in oil on canvas a scene taken from the Iliad, Juno asking Venus to lend her the magic belt. The prince accepts the project for the exorbitant price of 15,000 francs.
The final oil on canvas 147 x 114 cm, signed Louise Le Brun and dated 1781, is exhibited at the Salon du Louvre in June 1783. The connoisseurs admire the contrast between the proud Juno, queen of the gods, and the blonde Venus assimilated to a grisette, for the greatest satisfaction of the royal family. Both women have bare breasts. The most unclothed is Venus, with the same skin color as the young women by Boucher.
This painting is estimated € 1M for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on December 11, lot 3.
This theme centered on the erotic symbol of the belt could not be suitable for the Academy, for which Vigée-Le Brun has prepared a Peace bringing Abundance. In May 1783, Louise-Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun and her competitor Adélaïde Labille-Guiard are received at the same time at the Académie Royale.
Peace bringing Abundance is not a satisfactory painting, and Vigée-Le Brun is not recognized as a painter of history. She now exploits her best specialty, the portraits of court personalities painted with a great sensitivity.
1788 The Ambassador from Mysore
2019 SOLD for $ 7.2M including premium
The arrival in Paris in July 1788 of three ambassadors from Mysore with a suite of about thirty people is a sensational and picturesque event. Great enemy of the English, the Sultan of Mysore was preparing a new war and hoped to be helped by France. The sumptuous Muslim clothes of his diplomats ensure their credibility.
Elisabeth remembers opportunely that one of her earliest ambitions had been to be a history painter. With the indispensable support of King Louis XVI, she obtains the authorization to paint the portraits of these exotic lords.
On January 30 in New York, Sotheby's sells the full length portrait of the leader of the delegation, lot 48 estimated $ 4M.
This oil on canvas 226 x 136 cm shows the white bearded man holding an oriental sword with curved blade. This composition is reminiscent of the portrait of the young Polynesian prince Omai by Reynolds in 1776. The exotic traveler is shown life-size, standing in front of a landscape in a counter-dive view that increases his dignity.
The image shared by Wikimedia is trimmed on the left and lower edges.
1789 Last Lights of the Ancien Régime
2019 SOLD for $ 980K including premium
In 1770 Marie-Antoinette becomes dauphine de France. She is openly hostile to the new comtesse. Despite good predispositions, Madame du Barry will not exercise the role of patron of art and referee of fashions that had been so brilliantly held earlier in the same reign by Madame de Pompadour.
Louis XV dies in 1774. Madame du Barry retires shortly afterward to her château de Louveciennes. In 1771 she had built therein for her receptions the music pavilion, a masterpiece of French classicism made by Ledoux.
Madame Vigée Le Brun becomes the official painter of Marie-Antoinette in 1778. Very clever in social relations, she makes pretty portraits of male courtiers and charming portraits of the ladies. She does not neglect the fallen favorite of whom she makes two portraits, in 1781 and 1782.
In September 1789 Vigée Le Brun comes to Louveciennes. She begins a portrait of the comtesse. The sound of the revolutionary cannonades interrupts this activity. The head had been painted and the body was sketched.
Too involved in the Ancien Régime, Vigée Le Brun must go into exile. Du Barry is guillotined in 1793. The artist returns to Paris in 1802. The comte de Narbonne-Lara restores to her the unfinished portrait. The Souvenirs by Vigée Le Brun attest that the completion of this painting is autograph but its date is not revealed.
This posthumous portrait of Du Barry seated in an elegant dress in a landscape, oil on canvas 130 x 98 cm, is estimated $ 1M for sale by Christie's in New York on May 1, lot 33. The image is shared by Wikimedia.