See also : Spain II Jewels II Cartier 1972 Music in old painting Early still life
Chronology : 1570-1599 1610-1619 1660-1679 1800-1809
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.
1618 A Little Praying Girl
2017 SOLD for € 9.7M including premium
It is a beautiful portrait of a little girl in half-length, her hands joined for prayer, her eyes wide open in a rather sad expression. The chiaroscuro on a black background and the realism of this child's portrait without any moving intent plead for an autograph work by Velazquez.
During the X-Ray inspection several white dots forming a halo were discovered, in conformance with a traditional iconography of Mary's childhood. This painting could have been conceived as an Inmaculada before being transformed by the artist in a modello portrait.
If this is the case it is probably prior to an Inmaculada preserved at the Fundacion Focus Abengoa in Sevilla, dated around 1618 and attributed by some experts to Velazquez and by others to Alonso Cano. Velazquez and his younger colleague Cano were both students in Sevilla to Francisco Pacheco, a painter and theoretician who had met El Greco and specialized in religious art for the local ecclesiastical clientele.
The high skill of Velazquez was precocious : barely 18 years old in 1617, he was received in the corporation of the painters of Sevilla and his first masterpiece mixing genre and still life, Vieja friendo hiejos, was painted in the following year. He was remaining at that time in the entourage of Pacheco whose daughter he married in 1618.
1621-1623 Portrait of a Gentleman by Velazquez
2022 SOLD for € 4.2M by Abalarte
The pictural style and pigments are typical of Velazquez's period 1621-23. At that time he was still a resident in Sevilla but made long stays at the court of Felipe IV. The portrait of Gongora currently at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston was made in 1622 during his first visit in Madrid..
1629 The Art of Bodegon
2019 SOLD for $ 6.5M including premium
Sanchez Cotan wished to reproduce with the greatest pictorial accuracy some elements of nature that he positions in a balanced composition. Vegetables, fruit and game fowls are laying or hanging in a uniformly gray window frame against a black background. He had invented the bodegon, an unprecedented style in modern painting that anticipates Chardin and Cézanne.
Several originals survive. One of them is dated 1602. Another one, oil on canvas re-sized at 73 x 62 cm after removal of the central part, was sold for £ 4M including premium by Christie's on December 8, 2004.
The growing interest in botanical gardens and cabinets of curiosity led to the still life paintings of flowers and fruit in Flanders and Milan from 1606. In the 1620s the best Spanish continuator to Sanchez Cotan, Juan van der Hamen y Leon, inserts flowers in the bodegones.
In 1626 van der Hamen finds a trick to display complex arrangements in very large formats : he replaces Sanchez Cotan's window by three stone bases of varying heights and widths.
On May 1 in New York, Christie's sells a bodegon of fruit with a large vase of flowers, oil on canvas 86 x 132 cm painted by van der Hamen in 1629, lot 109 estimated $ 6M. Painted in the same year and style by the same artist, a bodegon of fruit with an artichoke, 79 x 100 cm, was sold for € 900K including premium by Christie's on October 6, 2004.
1631 A Portrait at the Court of Philip IV
2011 SOLD 2.95 M£ including premium
Matthew Shepperson, an unknown English artist who died in 1874, owned soe mediocre paintings that his heirs never handled. They still had to get rid of that and entrusted this operation to the local office of Bonhams in Oxford in August 2010.
A portrait seemed earlier. The Department of Ancient painting of Bonhams alerted a specialist of Velazquez, Dr.Cherry, who confirmed that this oil on canvas, 47 x 39 cm, had all the characteristics of an authentic work of the master.
It is a gentleman in bust length with a high collar behind the neck after the fashion of the courtiers of Philip IV. The face is in bright contrast with the very dark background and the black cloth. Only Velazquez, after his 1631 trip to Italy, was able to achieve such sumptuous shades with a very thin layer of paint.
This attribution to one of the top masters is an event, especially as the works of Velazquez still in private hands are very rare.
The sale takes place on December 7 in London. The painting is estimated £ 2M.
POST SALE COMMENT
It is not easy to directly put into auction an unknown work of an outstanding master. Bonhams has led this operation to success : £ 2.6 million before fees, 2.95 million including premium.
Their attribution was convincing and was not opposed.
I invite you to play the video, well-researched and convincing, shared by Bonhams. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1632 Queen of Spain by Velazquez
2024 for sale on February 1 by Sotheby's
waiting for catalogue
Among Diego Velázquez’s most important contributions to art history are his royal portraits—and now his full-length portrait of Isabel de Borbón, Queen of Spain comes to market for the first time in half a century at #SothebysNewYork next February. https://t.co/1m7eZza5Gt pic.twitter.com/VGhfMXjOPa— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 30, 2023
1637 Enjoyment of Senses by Ribera
2019 SOLD for £ 5.7M including premium
In 1616 Ribera, aged 25, arrives in Naples which is then a Spanish possession. He will never return to his country but wishes to state his origin by signing his works Jusepe de Ribera español. He is also nicknamed Lo Spagnoletto.
He paints other Senses in 1637 with allegories completely different from his earlier series. Hearing is a girl who plays the tambourine with an expression of deep happiness, personifying the pleasure of the senses. This oil on canvas 60 x 46 cm is estimated £ 5M for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 3, lot 24.
This figure was painted by Ribera at the end of his tenebrist phase, with a black background in the style of his friend Velazquez. In the series of popular types, she thus appears in the continuity of his picturesque bearded milking woman (Mujer barbuda) painted in 1631.
Clearly a pendant of similar size with the Tambourine girl, Taste is a hilarious drunkard. Candidates have been proposed for Smell and Touch, but Sight remains unidentified, without evidence that this series has ever been complete.
1650 VELAZQUEZ in Rome
Juan de Pareja
He left Malaga in 1649, visited Genoa, Milan, Venice and Modena, buying in passing important works by Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese. At the beginning of 1650 he was in Rome where he could take care of his own career. A previous stay in Italy in 1629-1630 had much contributed to his artistic training but he was still unknown in that country when he arrived in Rome.
He is accompanied by his slave Juan de Pareja, who is his preparer of colors. Aged about 44, Juan de Pareja is a mulatto with a Moorish dominance.
Velazquez has a great intuition. To assess that his expertise meets his reputation, he paints a portrait of his slave, to whom he commissions the demonstration of the result to a few selected friends. The truth of the portrait is breathtaking. The painting is exhibited in the Pantheon on March 19, 1650 for the feast of Saint Joseph, an extraordinary honor when considering that the work had just been completed. The Romans were dazzled by the physical and psychological resemblance between man and painting.
Velazquez was not only a painter of worldly portraits. He knew to give dignity to men whatever their social condition. Juan's gaze is proud and straight. He will have his reward : freed a few months later with a probation period, he will use his own painting skills to become one of Velazquez's best assistants.
The portrait of Juan de Pareja, oil on canvas 81 x 70 cm, was sold on November 27, 1970 by Christie's for £ 2.3M, worth US $ 5.5M at that time. It was purchased at that sale by Wildenstein acting for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met raises the necessary funds after a call for donations to the Friends of the Museum and acquires this masterpiece in 1971. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Pope Innocent X
Doria Pamphilj Gallery
In August 1650 Pope Innocent X sits for him. The artist wants to do better than Titian and takes a great care in the attitude and in the colors. Admiring the masterpiece, the pope famously says : "Troppo vero".
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Monsignor Segni by Velazquez and Neri
2023 SOLD for £ 3.44M by Sotheby's
The portrait of Monsignor Cristoforo Segni reveals the clever solution found by Velazquez. This outstanding person in charge of overseeing the apostolic palaces sits in an armchair and holds a paper in his hand, on the model of the portrait of the pope. The paper has the same role of identifying the artist and the prelate. For Segni the name of another artist, Pietro Martire Neri, is also indicated near that text.
This double authentication has puzzled all art historians, especially since no collaboration between Velazquez and Neri has ever been documented. The sharpness and expression of the face could however not have been achieved by Neri whose personal known work is rather mediocre. Segni's head is an autograph painting by Velazquez. Neri completed the rest, possibly after the departure of Velazquez from Rome.
This oil on canvas 114 x 92 cm was sold by Sotheby's for $ 4.1M on February 1, 2018, lot 48, and for £ 3.44M on July 5, 2023, lot 19. The image is shared by Wikimedia. Please watch the videos shared by the auction house before each sale.
1656 Las Meninas by Velazquez
1664 The Wittelsbacher-Graff
2008 SOLD for £ 16.4M by Christie's
This Indian greyish-blue diamond weighing 35.56 carat of VS2 clarity is chosen in 1664 by King Philip IV of Spain to enter the dowry of his daughter, the Infanta Margarita Teresa. The princess is well known for being in 1656 the main character of the Meninas of Velazquez. So this diamond is a contemporary of the royal glory of the Koh-I-Noor, the Regent and the Orlov. Entered in the Bavarian royal family by a marriage in 1722, it was then known as Blaue Wittelsbacher.
It was sold by Christie's in 1931 with the crown jewelry of Bavaria, and for £ 16.4M on December 10, 2008, lot 212. It has been purchased at the latter sale by Graff Diamonds. Its image before being recut by Graff is shared by Wikimedia :
1797-1800 Maja Desnuda by Goya
1800-1805 Maja Vestida by Goya
1805 the Barruso portraits by Goya
2023 SOLD for $ 16.4M by Christie's
Francisco Goya was appointed in 1789 First Court painter to the King. From 1804 he accepts bourgeois sitters for his business. Don Salvador Barruso was a textile merchant involved with the Royal Factories at Talavera.
Don Salvador commissions to Goya in 1805 the portraits of his wife and daughter, which are executed as a pair of oils on canvas of same size, 105 x 84 cm.
It is usual in such pairs to attribute the left picture to the most important character. Here the left is the still childish Maria, nearly fifteen year old. Both are seated, and dressed in the French high waisted fashion of that time. Maria has on her lap a pet bichon dog, a symbol of fidelity. Under the protection of her mother, she is featured as ready for wedding. She will marry two years later and die after childbirth in 1810.
The scarcity of this pair is the featuring of a mother and daughter as pendants, but it is remarkable by the extreme skill of Goya, rightly considered at that time as a worthy successor to Raphael.
The tightly woven canvas was smoothed with a bright brick colored primer enabling to paint in very thin layers. No underdrawing is revealed in infra red reflectography. A painted sketch had dried before the final layer was applied. The surface is remaining pristine.
Fortunately the pair has not been separated. It was sold for $ 16.4M by Christie's on January 25, 2023, lot 138.
1808-1812 Dead Hares by Goya
2003 SOLD for $ 5.1M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
At 62, the artist no longer needs his art to earn a living and, in these difficult circumstances, he has fewer clients. He had a bulimia of innovations throughout his life. He is trying the theme of still life for the first time in his career.
The twelve still lifes painted by Goya surfaced after 1865. They had remained grouped together in the artist's estate and then in a mortgage which had ended in a transfer in favor of a business partner of Mariano, the grandson of the artist.
Goya had attempted in this set to completely renew the theme of still life. Dead animals are no longer decorative objects or hunting trophies, but beings whose lives have been violently taken by humans for culinary purposes. The beginning of the war is the terminus post quem. The terminus ante quem is their reference in an inventory in 1812.
Goya used the best of his pictorial technique, combining veils of color and heavy impastos, placed with brushes, knife and fingers. The animals are different on each opus. The realistic flesh ready for decomposition attests to the importance of death in the artist's creativity.
On January 24, 2003 Christie's sold at lot 136 for $ 5.1M including premium an oil on canvas 45 x 63 cm showing two dead hares lying on top of each other on a table.