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 :
1520 Portrait of Suleyman
2019 SOLD for £ 5.3M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
This achievement generates a kind of frustration when Mehmed's successor returns to iconoclasm. Wealthy Venetian merchants who profit from the new Ottoman expansion would like to know what the "boss" looks like.
A new era opens in 1520 with the coming to power of Suleyman. Aged 26, he has global ambitions and a lot of skills. He will keep such promises : his reign of 46 years was the culmination of the Ottoman culture and he was nicknamed "the Magnificent" by Westerners for his activity as a legislator.
Upon his accession, an unidentified artist painted a portrait of Suleyman in profile in the style of Bellini, probably without having the formal permission of the Sultan. This image was reused in 1526 in Europe after Suleyman's victory over the Hungarians at the Battle of Mohacs.
An oil on panel 33 x 28 cm bearing the Latin inscription Suleiman Turchorum Imperator Maximus may well be the original version of this portrait. It was sold by Sotheby's on May 1, 2019 for £ 5.3M including premium over a lower estimate of £ 250K, lot 129.
1520 Virgin and Child by Gossaert
2015 SOLD for £ 4.6M including premium by Sotheby's
1523 Head of Saint Joseph by Andrea del Sarto
2005 SOLD for £ 6.5M including premium by Christie's
Narrated below :
1525 The Passion of Zhu Yunming
2019 SOLD for $ 1.58M including premium
Zhu Yunming is a wild opponent to the neo-Confucianist orthodoxy of the Ming. His career is not spectacular. Ca 1522 CE, soon after his 60th birthday, he manages to retire with a pretext of poor health. He can now devote himself to poetry and calligraphy.
On September 12 in New York, Sotheby's sells a calligraphy of the Ode to the Goddess of the Luo River made by Zhu in 1525 CE, lot 1028 estimated $ 800K, The 33 x 850 cm hand scroll is rolled out in the video embedded in the tweet below.
This story is typical of the deepest roots of Chinese poetry, on the theme of passionate love between a mortal, often a prince, and a goddess or a nymph. The catalog does not indicate the source of the copied text but the best-known version was written by Cao Zhi 1300 years earlier, at the time of the final explosion of the Han dynasty. Zhu's page in Wikipedia is illustrated by a calligraphy of another poem by Cao Zhi.
Zhu had an impetuous temperament and a specific skill for cursive writing. This Ode is the masterpiece of the end of his life, favoring a fierce speed of execution to promote the impression of spontaneity and to highlight the variations of rhythm of the poem.
In this First Look, discover calligrapher Zhu Yunming's elegant brushwork in his masterpiece 'Ode to the Goddess of the Luo River', a highlight in our upcoming Fine Classical Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy sale on 12 September in #NYC. #SothebysAsianArt https://t.co/P9YELlzxzz pic.twitter.com/jKV4AToD1s— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) September 4, 2019
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.
1525-1527 The Young Writer in the Palazzo Corsini
2015 SOLD for $ 9.1M including premium
Here is my post from 2013 :
Pontormo had a dual role in the history of art.
On one hand, his mythological and biblical works are at the origin of the mannerism with which the expression of the feelings supersede the realism of the attitudes.
On the other hand, he was lucky to be the most appreciated portrait painter to the court of Florence at a brilliant intellectual time when customers requiring for art were expanding beyond the ruling family.
In 1989 at Christie's, J. Paul Getty Museum purchased for $ 35M including premium the portrait of a halberdier, realized between 1528 and 1530 by Pontormo, which is still one of the highest prices recorded at auction for an ancient painting.
The portrait of a young writer has just resurfaced. This oil on panel, 94 x 78 cm, was described in 1842 in the collections of Palazzo Corsini. Its importance was not identified at that time and it was later known through a copy which was sufficient to state that it was not a work by Pontormo.
Its direct scrutiny now attributes it firmly to Agnolo Bronzino when he was a pupil of Pontormo. Vasari had already acknowledged the difficulty of separating the works of both artists and the fast and neat skill of the pupil. This observation is in good agreement with the very thin painting layer of our portrait of a writer.
The experts were able to identify the probable date of the work in comparison with other paintings by Bronzino : between 1525 and 1527.
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
ca 1520s Dragon and Child
2019 SOLD for € 2.3M including premium
His Madonna and Child with Saint George and an Angel is a complex narrative work. Four examples of this painting are known. It was probably conceived in the 1520s, a period of greater maturity of the artist, after the death of Leonardo.
Four characters are closely grouped in the foreground. The Child on the lap of his Mother puts a foot on the head of the decapitated dragon, symbol of Evil, and presents the palm to St George. The face of the Virgin is in the style of Leonardo. Quiet and kind, she does not show an interest in the dramatic scene that happens in front of her. An angel plays the lute. Further on, the white horse of the saint is staying beside the headless body of the monster.
An oil on panel 104 x 80 cm, already correctly attributed to Luini, was since the 1870s in the Cook collection. In 1900 the collector buys from his expert Charles Robinson a Salvator Mundi by the same artist. The experts will attribute it much later to Leonardo. It was sold for $ 450M including premium by Christie's on November 15, 2017.
The scene with St George was sold for £ 173K including premium by Christie's on July 6, 2017. Its new owner cleared it of a recent yellow varnish that blemished faces and clothings. The repaints were removed to better reveal the beautiful original pigments and this piece appears again as an original artwork by Luini.
It is estimated € 1.8M for sale by Aguttes in Paris (Hôtel Drouot) on November 14, lot 60. Here is the link to the press release shared by Drouot.
1527 Portrait of Sibylle of Cleves by Cranach
2008 SOLD for $ 7.7M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
A marriage seals the alliance between these two dynasties. The engagement was celebrated in September 1526. Johann Friedrich, 23, the eldest son of the elector of Saxony, was one of Luther's most ardent supporters. Sibylle, 14, is the eldest daughter of the Duke of Cleves. The marriage took place in June 1527.
Cranach has been a court painter for the Saxon Electors in Wittenberg since 1504. Much linked to Luther, he was in 1525 the godfather of his first child.
Two portraits by Cranach of Sibylle during the engagement phase are known. She wears the crown of virgins which guarantees her virtue until her marriage. She is standing in three quarter length, her hands gently joined on the waist. The face is still juvenile. The 57 x 39 cm painting kept at Weimar Castle is dated 1526.
The other painting is an oil on panel 53 x 38 cm. The lively gaze and the smile display a better presence. The symbols of the two families are woven within the dress. It is signed by the serpent, used by Cranach instead of a monogram for his official paintings.
The portrait of Sibylle of Cleves was sold for $ 7.7M including premium by Christie's on April 15, 2008, lot 12. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
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 $ 35M 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.