Safavid - The Carpet of Senator Clark
2013 SOLD 34 M$ including premium
One of them created one of the most exciting surprises in the history of auctions. Surfacing in Germany in October 2009, it was estimated € 900 by a local auctioneer. Christie's had a small intuition about the importance of the piece by providing an estimate of £ 200K. They sold it for £ 6.2 million including premium on April 15, 2010.
Now known as the carpet of the comtesse de Béhague, this Kirman in wool 339 x 153 cm was made with one of the more complex techniques identified as the 'vase' technique. This name is unrelated to the decorative pattern.
The carpet of Senator Clark will not create the same surprise as it has already been described for nearly a century as a masterpiece of Persian textile art. It was exhibited after the death of its owner in 1925 in a museum that de-accessions it now. It is estimated $ 5M, for sale by Sotheby's in New York on June 5. Here is the link to the catalog.
Its red background is rare and perhaps unique in its class, the sickle-leaf pattern variant of the 'vase' technique. Its fine floral motifs and its palmettes make it a vibrant and sumptuous artwork in 267 x 196 cm size.
It is always difficult to date and locate an old carpet, if not by considerations of its technical characteristics. The Clark carpet is Safavid and probably Kirman. It is comparable to the best known pieces woven during the reign of Shah Abbas 400 years ago.
POST SALE COMMENT
There is no price limit for the most outstanding art pieces. This extraordinary carpet was sold for $ 34M including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's.
It is also shared by Wikimedia.
1600 A Prayer of Saint Dominic
2013 SOLD 9.2 M£ including premium
Mannerism is disputed because the elongated body is uneasy to understand. El Greco does not choose between Mannerism and the Baroque which is the new apology of motion. The originality of his art is to be a strong and unique synthesis of the two trends.
On July 3 in London, Sotheby's sells an image of Saint Dominic by El Greco, estimated £ 3M. It is a rare theme, although the saint was Spanish. The founder of the Order of Preachers is a teacher whose hagiography is not miraculous.
Dominic prays with the habit of his order. His tall elongated body is moving towards a crucifix that he had positioned on a rock. His contemplation is internal as his eyes are almost closed.
The scene is located outdoor probably to glorify a hermit life then considered as deviant for a Dominican. The sky is ready for storm, contrasting with the quiet attitude of the saint.
This oil on canvas, made circa 1600 from an earlier model, is small, 75 x 58 cm, indicating that it was intended for private devotion. Coming from the Rau collection, it is sold for the benefit of UNICEF. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
The works of El Greco in such a quality are exceptional on the art market. St. Dominic was sold for £ 9.2 million including premium.
The sale also included a large Christ on the Cross by the same artist, sold for £ 3.4 million including premium.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1600 Franciscan Contemplation
2017 SOLD for £ 6.9M including premium
Francis is not a saint like the others. His conversion to poverty is a revolution in medieval monasticism. St. Francis and St. Dominic are independently of one another the greatest reformers of Christian life.
Francis practices a mystical prayer far away from the interpretations of the Gospels which facilitates his appreciation by El Greco. On December 7 in London, Christie's sells a scene showing Saint Francis and Brother Leo in meditation, autograph oil on canvas 110 x 65 cm estimated £ 5M, lot 14.
This work is typical of the maturity of the artist in Toledo. The expressiveness of the faces is counterbalanced by the elongated body of the saint which reinforces the impression of presence. The mystic light of the day enters the cave. The saint holds in his hands a human skull, a symbol promoted in 1548 by Ignatius of Loyola as the best incentive to contemplation.
The painting 168 x 103 cm kept at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa is considered as its original version. Made around 1600, it is comparable to the Saint Dominic in prayer of which a 75 x 58 cm autograph copy was sold for £ 9.2M including premium by Sotheby's on July 3, 2013.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's about the Saint Francis of the next sale.
1604-(1610) The Coronation of Marie de Médicis
2012 SOLD 9 MCHF including premium
His pale yellow diamond of 55 carats took his name: the Sancy. In 1604 it was bought by James I of England. It joined the Régent in the Louvre.
Henri IV and Marie are a dissimilar couple. The Bearnese peasant seeks to counteract the trends to luxury of his Florentine wife. Perhaps to comfort her after missing the Sancy, Henri buys for Marie the other prestigious gem, also in 1604. This 35-carat white diamond of pear double rose cut was later called the Beau Sancy.
Marie, married in 1600 long after the beginning of Henri's reign, had not yet been crowned, to her dismay. The king finally gave away, again. During the coronation ceremony, on May 13, 1610, the Beau Sancy adorns the crown of the queen. The next day, Henri IV is assassinated.
The Beau Sancy has always remained in royal European families. It is estimated CHF 2M, for sale by Sotheby's in Geneva on May 15.
It is illustrated in the article shared by La Tribune de Genève. Its ancient cut with bulky shapes is outdated, just like the complicated cut of the yellow Sancy based on a shield shape.
POST SALE COMMENT
The Beau Sancy was sold CHF 9M including premium, well above its estimate. Its price per carat, CHF 250K, is remarkable.
Such enthusiasm for a historical gem is not common. Hopefully its success will attract to the market other exceptional historical pieces.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's :
The Battle between Carnival and Lent by Pieter Brueghel the younger
2011 SOLD for £ 6.9M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2010 before the sale of another example by Christie's (see below)
Carnival is perched on a barrel and encouraged by his followers who leave the tavern. Lent is an unpleasant nun whose friends leave the church. On the Flemish village square, away from the main story, a crowd of people is busy with everyday occupations.
To our delight, the Brueghel workshop outlived its founder. For several decades, his sons made faithful copies of his works, probably executed as and when ordered from customers. Luckily, Pieter II and Jan I were also excellent painters who, each in his own way, have significantly inflated the Brueghel catalog.
Pieter II made several copies of the Combat Between Carnival and Lent. An oil on canvas, 119 x 171 cm was sold twice by Christie's : for £ 3.25M including premium on December 7, 2006 and for £ 6.9M including premium on December 6, 2011, lot 17.
On December 7, 2010 Christie's sold for £ 2M including premium an oil on panel of almost the same size, 118 x 166 cm but in lesser condition. It has been established by dendrochronology that two of its planks came from a Baltic oak also used for another work by this artist dated 1603.
Good and Evil on a Flemish Square
2012 SOLD 4.5 M£ including premium
His themes, allegories, proverbs, parables, however, are well positioning this artist at the time when the religious crisis shook Europe, when Cranach and Titian, in their own way, were looking for the meaning of good and evil.
The Battle between Carnival and Lent, in 1559, is one of the most complex compositions of Bruegel. On the pretext of a festival on the village square, it shows people, their occupations, their games, and two processions facing each other in such a way that they irreversibly inhibit any possible progress. Carnival comes out of the inn and Lent out of the church.
Fortunately, the sons of the founder of the workshop were also excellent painters. Although being copies, the five known examples of the Battle between Carnival and Lent by Pieter Brueghel the younger are masterpieces.
Only one of these five paintings, it seems, has been dated using dendrochronology. This version of 1603, 118 x 166 cm, has been previously discussed in this group. In neglected condition, it was sold £ 2M including premium by Christie's on December 7, 2010.
On similar size and in very good condition, the only canvas of the group was sold twice by Christie's: £ 3.25 million including premium on 7 December 2006, and £ 6.9 million including premium on 6 December 2011, demonstrating the growing enthusiasm of the market.
Also in similar dimensions, the best preserved of the four panels is estimated £ 4M, for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 4. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
Carnival and Lent remains a favorite theme of Brueghel's fans at auction. Despite its excellent condition, this one was however sold without excitement, exactly at its lower estimate, £ 4.5 million including premium.
1607 Picturesque Ethnology by Bruegel
2018 SOLD for £ 6.3M including premium
These two works have a sensational and unprecedented ethnological value, showing the variety of occupations in a Flemish village as well as behaviour and clothing.
Inspired by an engraving made shortly before by Hogenberg, Bruegel's Proverbs are a juxtaposition of nearly one hundred secular sayings played in the village. God and the Devil appear only three times in all, only in ridiculous situations, while priests and saints are absent. Among the most amusing scenes are the peasant who shears a pig, the bell attached to the cat and the cuckold clothed in a gaudy cloak by his unfaithful wife.
From the literary point of view, Erasmus and Rabelais had explored this theme : everyone mocks his neighbors while ignoring his own faults, constituting the syndrome of the ordinary madness. A moralizing interpretation is inevitable, especially in those times of religious tension.
The specialty of Pieter Brueghel the younger is to copy for his clients the compositions of his father. At his time the artworks had been scattered. The copy is prepared in conformance with Pieter the elder's original underdrawing. It means that a working model kept by the father was used nearly forty years after his death by the son. The underdrawings are now reconstituted by non-destructive inspection as a deep layer in the paintings.
During the 1600s decade Pieter the younger made copies on wood and canvas in the original format. On December 6, 2011, Christie's sold for £ 6.9M including premium the only surviving large size canvas of the Battle between Carnival and Lent, 119 x 171 cm.
On December 6 in London, Christie's sells The Proverbs, oil on canvas 121 x 167 cm painted around 1607, lot 7 estimated £ 3.5M.
1607 The Stations of the Brueghels
2014 SOLD 5.5 M£ including premium
Bruegel painted the procession to Calvary in 1564. The dense and diverse crowd almost hides the relatively distant Christ carrying his cross. The religious dimension is mainly provided by the holy women in the foreground. This oil on panel is one of his largest works, 124 x 170 cm.
Pieter Brueghel the younger has not only copied the catalog of his father. His works in large format are often original compositions.
From 1599 he also treats the road to Calvary. In the 1607 version, oil on panel 122 x 170 cm, Christ is more visible and the crowd is less dense. In the distance, the city of Jerusalem looks immense.
This painting was sold for £ 5.2 million including premium by Sotheby's on July 5, 2006. It is estimated £ 5M for sale by Christie's in London on July 8.
On July 9 in London, Sotheby's sells a 1615 painting of the Crucifixion. The scene is located in a wide landscape, with a stylized Jerusalem just above the cross of Christ. The artist has chosen an anecdotal moment when the soldiers are busy raising the cross of the second thief.
This oil on panel 100 x 148 cm is estimated £ 3M.
POST SALE COMMENTS
At Christie's, the result for the Road to Calvary, £ 5.5 million including premium, is slightly above the 2006 price.
At Sotheby's, the Calvary was not sold. Here are the results including premium for the other two important paintings by Pieter Brueghel II: £ 3.9 million for the bird trap and £ 1.54 million for the village feast.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's introducing three Brueghel paintings including the Calvary.
1608 Flowers in an Oil on Copper by Bosschaert
2008 SOLD 5.8 MCHF including premium
Its author, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, is so named today to distinguish him from his son Ambrosius. The latter, and the Elder's two other sons Abraham and Johannes, also painted still lifes, but the best known of the family is perhaps Balthasar van der Ast, brother-in-law and pupil of the elder Ambrosius.
On 10 July 2002, Sotheby's achieved good results on works by these painters. A bouquet in a window, oil on copper of 28 x 23 cm by Ambrosius the Elder and typical of his work, had been sold £ 2.1 million charge included. The same day, an oval oil on copper of 1624 by Balthasar has almost reached 950 K £.
With a composition very similar as the copper to be sold by Koller, another oil on copper, by Ambrosius the Elder, 30 x 20 cm, was sold £ 1.75 million by Sotheby's in London in July 2000. It was on my taste more interesting than the Koller's, because the flowers were more numerous and less dispersed. In both works, the glass is almost identical.
It derives from these figures that the estimate given by Koller, 2.5 MCHF, is ambitious, but the auction house announced that the painting is in exceptional condition, after being kept for 150 years in the same collection.
POST SALE COMMENTS
Koller got a good result on these flowers by Bosschaert: 5 MCHF excluding charges, twice the low estimate.
This article will have a following:
A bouquet in a niche by Balthasar van der Ast, 48 x 36 cm, is the lot 16 of the sale of Zürichsee Auktionen in Erlenbach on September 24 (estimated 500 KCHF). As I said in the article above, Balthasar was the brother in law of Ambrosius Bosschaert.
Balthasar's painting was not sold.
1608 Intimate Coppers by Wtewael
2019 SOLD for £ 4.6M including premium
The available iconography is abundant, including the risque engravings of Goltzius often copied from Spranger. A fashion is to intimate closets, predecessors to the boudoirs. Until about 1612, Wtewael provides his clients with small copper paintings that are not intended to be displayed in public and could even be hidden in the binding of a book. In parallel his larger formats on canvas or wood are more suitable.
Nude groups are inspired by mythology. The Mannerist eroticism that lengthens the bodies of the women suits his purpose. He often reworks the same themes, seeking to improve the readability. For his most complex miniatures, he organizes the action in several fields with differences in brightness.
Wtewael takes care that each god of the Olympus is identifiable by an attribute, even within the crowd of a banquet. With characters ranging from the lustful Venus to the chaste Diana, he is definitely more of an entertainer than a moralist. He spent his entire career in his hometown where he became a rich flax fiber merchant. He did not manage a workshop and did not have an apprentice.
On July 3 in London, Sotheby's sells Diana and Actaeon, oil on copper 16 x 21 cm painted in 1608, lot 14 estimated £ 4M. Please watch the video in which Sotheby's compares its workmanship with the monumental Magdalene by Johann Liss previously discussed in this column.
This extremely narrative scene shows the moment when Diana had just sent her spell to the hunter. She is identified by the crescent moon above her head. Now that the risk is neutralized, these ladies resume their activities as if nothing had happened, displaying in full light their quiet nudity.
For Actaeon, nothing works anymore. His tall silhouette in the dim light is already head dressed with stag antlers. His dogs are agitated. A few moments later, when the metamorphosis will be complete, they will devour him.
#AuctionUpdate The Thrill of the Hunt □: Another auction record! Joachim Anthonisz. Wtewael’s exquisite little copper panel, reviving the most dramatic moment in the myth of Diana and Actaeon, hits a bullseye at £4,634,000. #SothebysOldMasters pic.twitter.com/EJULAAQz8r— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) July 3, 2019