1609-1612 Massacre of the Innocents by Rubens
2002 SOLD 49.5 M£ including premium by Sotheby's
1610 Bucolic Harmony by Jan Brueghel
2018 SOLD for £ 3.6M including premium
He thus continues the tradition of the Weltlandschaft by which his predecessors had composed imaginary landscapes which served as models for the backgrounds of the narrative scenes. All the elements are carefully structured : the busy road, the wide river, the vast countryside where villages and chapels nestle, and the mountain on the horizon.
He is one of the best artists of his time, with a palette of vivid and varied colors. On the road the animation responds to a catalog of motifs including travelers, horses, cattle, dogs and wagons. Compared to the classic Weltlandschaft, he takes a lower viewpoint that highlights the picturesque scene in the foreground.
Many of these views are painted on small copper plates with a bright impasto. One of the largest, 53 x 72 cm, signed Brueghel and dated 1610, was sold for $ 2.03M including premium by Sotheby's on June 1, 1990. It is estimated £ 3M for sale by Christie's in London on December 6, lot 23.
#AuctionUpdate Regarded as one of the most significant landscapes by the artist to come to market in recent decades, 'An extensive wooded landscape' by #JanBreugheltheElder realises £3,608,750 this evening. #Christies #OldMasters pic.twitter.com/RiVwHRx6QC— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) December 6, 2018
1612 Mythology according to Goltzius
2010 SOLD 6.8 M$ including premium
Go further to the North. Haarlem is not yet knowing Frans Hals. Hendrick Goltzius, also influenced by Italy, led his artistic career with a degree of originality. Recognized as one of the best printmakers of his time, he decided in 1600, aged 42, to practice the great art of oil painting.
Like Rubens, Goltzius uses the ancient and mythological themes as an excuse to show nudes. The flesh shown by Goltzius is abundant and always erotic. On January 28 in New York, Sotheby's is selling his Jupiter and Antiope of 1612, 122 x 178 cm. The young woman is sleeping, naked in the light, thus being offered to a satyr. The press release with the image of the artwork is shared by AuctionPublicity.
Goltzius was not Rubens. His scenes do not have the same complexity and are easier to interpret! The painting, estimated $ 8 million, has however real strengths to achieve a high price. The market likes the works that have long been hanging in museums. This one has been returned by the Dutch government to the heirs of the Jewish family which had been forced to sell it to Göring.
POST SALE COMMENT
The lower estimate has not been reached: this painting was sold $ 6.8 million including premium. Considering that Goltzius is not one of the most famous masters, I state that it is an excellent result.
1612 Roelandt Savery at the Court of Rudolf II
2012 SOLD 5.4 MCHF including premium
He is also one of the first artists to show still lifes of flowers. According to a design that will be copied many times, he arranges them as a tight bouquet in a vase located in a niche. Small reptiles and insects animate the scene.
Such a bouquet in a small oil on copper, 13.5 x 17 cm, dated 1612, is estimated CHF 2.8 million, for sale by Koller in Zurich on March 30. Here is the link to the catalogue.
This painting had been sold £ 1.76 million including premium by Sotheby's on 12 July 2001.
POST SALE COMMENT
Excellent price for this interesting painting despite its small size: CHF 4.7 million before fees, 5.4 million including premium.
This auction house often gets great results on old painting. In September 2008, a bouquet painted in 1608 by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder had been sold for CHF 5.8 million including premium.
1612-1614 Rubens inspired by Titian
2010 SOLD 9 M£ including premium
Represented in three quarter length, the man embodies the power of an officer who goes into battle. He pays little attention to two young pages busy adjusting his equipment. The press release with an illustration of this painting is shared by AuctionPublicity.
This oil on panel, 123 x 98 cm, made around 1612 to 1614, looks like a Titian by the quality of its composition and also the liveliness of its animation.
Rubens had visited Italy between 1600 and 1608 to study the great masters, and had fallen under the spell of the work of his Venetian predecessor. He could not ignore the room of the Caesars in the Palace in Mantua, where were gathered twelve portraits by Titian of men in armor. Another military allegory of Rubens, seeming close to this Titian series that disappeared in a fire in 1734, was sold £ 4.4 million including premium by Sotheby's on July 10, 2002.
The image is shared on Wikimedia.
1613 The Garden of Eichstätt
2016 SOLD for £ 1.93M including premium
The prince-bishop of Eichstätt is passionate about flowers. His garden has eight sections or terraces where plants are grouped according to their origin. He entrusts the maintenance of the garden and the drawings of the plants to a botanist-apothecary based in Nuremberg, Basilius Besler.
Besler prepares 366 plates with an average of three plants per page. They are classified by season and the reader can compare the phases of a plant including bulb, flower and fruit. The Hortus Eystettensis is issued in 300 copies in 1613, in a very large format 54 x 42 cm. The deluxe version is only printed on one side to avoid the shadow of the back, and hand colored. It may be the most expensive book of its time.
A few copies began circulating in Rome in the circle of the Accademia dei Lincei. This academy is one of the earliest scientific societies in the modern sense of that wording. Its goal is to understand nature from an objective observation. In 1611, the Accademia welcomes into its ranks Galileo and also Faber, the director of the papal botanical garden.
It was known that one of the last sets of uncolored plates of the Hortus Eystettensis was purchased for the use of Faber in 1617. We did not know more. It is probably this one that has just surfaced.
On July 13 in London, Christie's sells that deluxe copy, lot 173estimated £ 800K. It is complete of Besler's 366 plates, without the additional botanical text. Before it got its binding, this copy was supplemented with fifteen drawings and one print of a rare plant that was the pride of the garden of Cardinal Farnese. This 1619 dated plate is dedicated to Faber. The whole book was colored by a single hand.
Let us comment the considerable interest of the Roman Catholic aristocracy for flowers. The preparation of the Hortus Eystettensis is indeed contemporary to the artistic study of flowers executed throughout the summer of 1606 by Jan Brueghel from the incitement of the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's :
1614 Rubens in front of Sodom
2016 SOLD for £ 45M including premium
In Italy, Rubens had admired Titian. In the north, he sees the increasingly risqué themes by Goltzius and Wtewael. Taboos fall : Bible and mythology offer erotic stories through moral excuses.
On July 7 in London, Christie's sells as lot 12 Lot and his daughters, oil on canvas 190 x 225 cm painted by Rubens circa 1614. This painting is a rediscovery : it had not been seen since a failed attempt of sale in 1904 and 1905 and its re-inspection pushes it among the masterpieces of the artist.
Rubens offers here a three character scene of high psychological complexity. In 1608, François de Sales judged that the story of Lot was not an incest but a forgivable sin. Lot is a nice old drunkard, like Noah.
In his great compositions from this phase of his career, Rubens wisely mixes nude and clothing. Although the bare flesh is the main target of the work, such a mingled attire brings presence and actuality to his antique theme. Samson and Delilah, the Massacre of the Innocents and the Drunken Silenus are other famous examples.
The abundant flesh is processed in an impasto that allows subtle variations of light and texture and promotes the sensual effect despite the advanced age of the man. Lot and his daughters remained in excellent condition in which only an aging varnish may be slightly blamed.
The artist had carefully read the Genesis : the two women were not made pregnant in the same day and only one is naked, ready but also worrying for the act. Her sister is closer to the father, with the charming smile of a woman who is achieving her conspiracy. The attitude and indeed the splendidly haggard gaze of the man express his full intoxication that encourages the nude girl to pour the wine once again. The Silenus will reuse similar characters in 1616.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's:
Later Ming - North and South according to Dong Qichang
2015 SOLD for RMB yuan 69M including premium
Dong attributed to the North a realism in the Confucian tradition, more concerned by objectivity than by art. His Southern school promotes free forms close to the later European romanticism. The southern artistic creation invites to emotion and dream in the Taoist tradition.
On November 15 in Beijing, China Guardian sells a mountain landscape by Dong Qichang, hand scroll 26 x 146 cm, lot 1327 estimated RMB 60M.
The clean and sharp ink line defines a mountain landscape where the accumulation of rocks is beautifully exaggerated. The ground is scattered with more realistic trees, which could help the lovers of Northern art of his time to accept the romanticism of the artist. The scenery is not animated, but a discrete group of thatched cottages brings a human dimension.
1616 Village Feast with the Artist
2008 SOLD 3.5 M£ including premium
Jan Brueghel is one of the very best Flemish painters and his themes are of the greatest variety. He imagined very early in his career the scenery and characters in Paradise. He had the good idea to transpose this theme to the peasant life, freed in his art from the moralizing intentions of his father Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
His landscapes are probably imaginary. They have very balanced compositions built around the turning of a road or a river or even both. The technique of oil on copper enables pure and warm colors.
One of his scenes of a feast near the village certainly expresses a personal emotion of the artist. This 26 x 38 cm painting dated 1616 was sold for £ 3.5M including premium by Sotheby's on July 9, 2008. It is estimated £ 5.5M for sale by Christie's in London on July 6, lot 42. I described it as follows in 2008 :
The landscape at the turn of a river is pleasant with a varied animation. Couples of peasants are dancing in the middle of the road between two rows of well-aligned spectators. A merchant sells his fish and two bourgeois are discussing. The catalog tells us that one of the bourgeois is a very rare self-portrait of the artist, confirming the importance that this happy theme had for him.
The distant animation is also intense. Nice boats are sailing on the river. In the upper left the village is populated by characters with horses and carriages. In the foreground two dogs are gently waiting.
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.
1619 Republican Silver in Utrecht
2018 SOLD for $ 5.4M including premium
Sons of a silversmith in Utrecht, Adam and Paul van Vianen are artists. Paul travels and transfers the Dutch taste to Rudolf II in Prague. Adam remains in Utrecht. They create complex shapes by chasing a silver plaque of very high purity, shaping the surface into lobes that have identified their style as "auricular". The figures are modeled on wax.
The covered baluster ewer 23 cm high for sale by Christie's on April 20 in New York as lot 21 is dated 1619. It is clearly signed A. DE VIANA rather than stamped with a logo, confirming that Adam claimed the status of an artist.
Beyond a Mannerist accumulation including masks, dolphins, monsters and a beetle apparently without an overall coherence, the main theme of this ewer is the story of Marcus Curtius divided into three large roundels. The van Vianen brothers also used the themes of Mucius Scevola and Horatius Cocles for other pieces in an obvious desire to make a praise of the Republican sacrifice.
One of the greatest admirers and collectors of auricular silverware will be Rembrandt, attesting to the important influence of that style on the decorative art of the Dutch Golden Age.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's.