Chronology : 16th century 1500-1519 1520-1539 1610-1619 1770-1779 1840-1849
1504 Michelangelo's Lost Battle
2011 SOLD 3.2 M£ including premium
The theme was chosen: the epic battles of the Florentines against Pisa and Milan. Two large walls were entrusted to the best Italian artists of the period, Leonardo and Michelangelo.
The eldest, Leonardo, 54, chose a heroic scene of the battle of Anghiari, a terrible clash of riders for the control of a standard.
Michelangelo, 29, finds in the Battle of Cascina an excuse to show naked soldiers. Surprised by the enemy while they are bathing in the river, they take various attitudes justified by panic.
24 preparatory drawings for the Battle of Cascina are known. One of them, the only privately owned, is for sale by Christie's in London on July 5. It is a double sided sheet, 21 x 18 cm, estimated £ 3M.
This drawing in black chalk shows on the recto a muscular male back, illustrated on the release shared by AuctionPublicity. The verso includes interspersed sketches.
Michelangelo realized a cartoon of his project, but left almost immediately for Rome. The cartoon was destroyed. Leonardo began the fresco of Anghiari but failed to overcome the technical difficulties and gave up.
POST SALE COMMENT
Despite the fame of the artist, Christie's was able to find a fair estimate. This drawing was sold £ 3.2 million including premium.
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.
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 :
mid 1520s The Cheeks of St Joseph
2016 SOLD for € 3.9M including premium
Some copies are pierced to ensure an exact reproduction of the lines when executing the final painting. A black chalk drawing by Raphael, perforated for an application on the Vatican frescoes, was sold for £ 29.1M including premium by Christie's on December 8, 2009.
The red chalk or sanguine is also in use. The earliest artist who mixed the two chalks on a same drawing was probably Piero Pollaiuolo around 1470. Fra Bartolommeo followed this technique when he prepared a group of portraits around 1515.
In the abundant work of Andrea del Sarto, only three drawings in two chalks have survived. All three are studies of an old man's head for St. Joseph. Their applications for paintings made by this master in the 1520s have been identified with certainty.
In the following of Fra Bartolommeo, Andrea draws the main lines in black and inserts the sanguine to bring a fleshy effect on cheeks, lips and ears. The drawing is then providing a realistic impression that foresees the actual look of the painting.
One of the three drawings of St. Joseph is preserved at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Another one, 37 x 23 cm with a leg study in the sanguine on the back side, was sold for £ 6.5M including premium by Christie's on July 5, 2005.
The third drawing, 23 x 18 cm with the study of an eye on the back side, is the most friendly by the straight gaze and cared hair of the old man. It had disappeared after being sold in July 1833 in an auction and was therefore not referred in the essay prepared by Christie's in 2005.
It is estimated over € 500K for sale by Gestas et Carrère in Pau on December 17. Here is the link to the website of the auction house.
The link in the tweet below leads to an essay in French and English published by Interenchères with the collaboration of Gestas et Carrère and of the Cabinet de Bayser, leader in France for the expertise of old master drawings.
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
1609 Rubens back from Italy
2014 SOLD 3.2 M£ including premium
He came back to Antwerp for family reasons, but political circumstances were particularly favorable for the start of his business. In April 1609, the Antwerp treaty is ending the war between Spain and the United Provinces. In July, Rubens is appointed court painter to the Archduke.
The burgomaster Nicolaas Rockox had assigned two important public commissions to Rubens, for the town hall and the cathedral, and ordered him for his private residence a scene of Samson and Delilah.
On July 10 in London, Christie's sells the only known preparation drawing for the Samson and Delilah of the mayor. This brown drawing in ink and wash, 16 x 16 cm, is estimated £ 1.5 M.
Before starting the job for the painting, Rubens was testing in the drawing the emotions of the tragic group of four characters: the giant, the wife, the barber and the maid. The analysis of this sketch invited him to increase the dramatic tension when he made the modello and the final painting on panel, in which the group is tighter and the main characters more personalized and more erotic.
The Samson by Rubens, as also his Holofernes in the same period, is strongly influenced by the too muscular male bodies by Michelangelo. The twist of the body is baroque, and the lighting of the scene with candles shows that Rubens also appreciated the modernism of Caravaggio.
POST SALE COMMENT
This drawing revealing the creative process of Rubens was sold for £ 3.2 million including premium.
1610 The Weight of the Cross
2019 SOLD for $ 8.2M including premium
The truce of Antwerp, signed in April 1609, puts an end to warfare for twelve years but religious tensions remain. The St. Walburga's church in Antwerp commissions to Rubens for its altar a monumental triptych on the theme of the elevation of the cross, conducive to distinguish the Catholic dogma from the Protestant.
This triptych prepared in 1610 is a masterpiece of baroque art. The soldiers who raise the cross are facing a superhuman weight that proves the real presence of Christ. The diagonal composition of the central panel and the dazzling chiaroscuro are inspired by Caravaggio's style. The almost nude or armored soldiers who handle the cross are strong men for whom Rubens remembers the Laocoon and Hercules Farnese, of which he had made drawings in Rome.
The painting is positioned in height above 19 steps. He finishes in 1611 in situ this work, 4.60 x 6.40 m overall in open position, which will be later transferred to the cathedral of Antwerp.
On January 30 in New York, Sotheby's sells a large drawing 49 x 32 cm made in preparation to the Elevation of the Cross, lot 15estimated $ 2.5M. Both right corners were cut for an undetermined reason, perhaps by the artist himself.
This drawing shows a soldier raising his arm to push the cross. He is naked while he will have an armor in the painting. In accordance with the practice of the Italian Renaissance, the study of the nude makes it possible to avoid anatomical errors in the painting of attitudes.
It was prepared by the artist to compare in a single drawing two possible positions of the left leg, more or less bent. The closer position is more convincing to express the effort. Rubens draws a stronger line on this version that he will use in the final work.
1766 Venetian Celebration
2017 SOLD for £ 2.63M including premium
The artist compensates the absence of colors by subtle hues of gray wash. As in the paintings from all his career the monuments are shown as much as possible in the greatest extension of their facade. The characters are divided into small groups.
The Feste Ducali followed the election of a Doge which took place in April 1763. The publisher Furlanetto announced the twelve images for sale in March and July 1766 and commissioned their printing.
On July 5 in London, Sotheby's sells the original 39 x 55 cm drawing of the view with the coronation of the Doge at the Palazzo Ducale, lot 44 estimated £ 2.5M. This grand view is also a beautiful study of perspective and light. The Scala dei Giganti is seen in a slight angle, improving the effect of the shadows.
The group with the Doge is very far, at the top of the monumental staircase. Canaletto chose a position as if he were in the crowd of the anonymous spectators. Indeed this commercial artist had no official recognition. His reception at the Accademia veneziana di pittura e scultura took place in 1765 after a difficult election in September 1763.
1777 Poetry of a Sunset Sky
2010 SOLD 2.4 M£ including premium
Sotheby's sale on July 14 in London includes a watercolor, 43 x 62 cm, estimated £ 500 K, showing the hill of Castel Gandolfo reflected in the lake of Albano. The work is dominated by a bright sunset sky preparing a storm, while the details of the landscape are barely sketched.
Cozens has twice traveled to Italy, from 1776-1779 and in 1782-1783. Wikipedia publishes the image of our watercolor by dating it circa 1777. Sotheby's, more cautious, is not as accurate.
It is unclear what Cozens made between his second return from Italy and 1794, the year Dr. Monro began to take him over for incurable dementia. Monro hosted a circle of artists whose most famous member was Thomas Girtin, and which had a direct influence on Turner.
POST SALE COMMENT
The market for ancient art is sensitive to the importance of works in the history of art. The price reached by this outstanding watercolor is remarkable: £ 2.4 million including premium.
The image is shared by Wikimedia :
1841 Heidelberg after the Rain
2013 SOLD 4.6 M$ including premium
At 65, Turner is at the top of his art. He retains in his watercolors the exceptional light and iridescence from bad weather conditions. The landscape is always recognizable, and improved with small figures engaged in their daily tasks.
To respond to the order, he sketches Heidelberg when the rain has stopped and the rainbow is just beginning to rise. This large watercolor, 35 x 53 cm, was probably made in 1841. It will be published in 1846 by Prior.
The artwork presents a curiosity that is not a fantasy. Several characters are in medieval costume. Turner remains a witness of his time: the Heidelberg students used to dress in that way.
This is one of the most successful watercolors by Turner. It was rewarded by a price of £ 2M including premium at Sotheby's on 14 June 2001. It is now estimated $ 4M, for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 31. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
This very interesting example of a view made to order was sold $ 4.6 million including premium.