1609-1612 Massacre of the Innocents by Rubens
2002 SOLD 49.5 M£ including premium by Sotheby's
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.
1602-1612 Olympian Delight
2019 SOLD for $ 6M including premium
Bartholomäus Spranger painted such themes for the emperor Rudolf II. In Haarlem, Hendrik Goltzius widely distributes these images by his engravings and adds new themes in his own paintings. The Mannerist style brings strength to the muscular bodies of men and a charming lasciviousness in the elongated bodies of women. Cupid excites everyone.
A contemporary of Goltzius, Joachim Wtewael makes his whole career in Utrecht where he is a founding member of the local guild of Saint Luke. He is also a rich merchant of flax fiber and does not need to operate a full workshop. The rarer spelling Uytewael better helps to pronounce his name.
Wtewael painted on canvas, panel or copper according to the desired formats. Curiously, he uses copper for the most complex themes, with a host of characters in various positions. These mythological scenes thus become an anthology of his little stories in which he displays a free life, sometimes even up to the carnal relation. As for pictural style, he however does not influence his countrymen the truculent Caravaggisti of Utrecht.
On January 30 in New York, Sotheby's sells a Banquet of the Gods, oil on copper 16 x 20 cm, lot 53 estimated $ 5M. On this very small format Wtewael has staged about fifty characters in gradual registers from earth to clouds, with the high precision in details allowed by the metallic polishing.
In the foreground Mars and Venus occupy the place of honor. The groups interact subtly : Cupid's arrow and Minerva's spear are directed outside their own groups. Some of these characters complacently offer their nudity to their partner. Bright blue spots of clothing bring an interesting chromatic balance in the forefront. Vulcan was not invited.
This work is similar to several opus on the theme of the Wedding of Peleus and Thetis. By the clarity of the composition, it is later than the version of 1602. It precedes a better version painted in 1612.
The Banquet of the Gods is directly inspired from an engraving by Goltzius based on a drawing by Spranger. Also after Goltzius, Mars and Venus surprised by Vulcan, oil on copper 18 x 14 cm painted by Wtewael in 1610, was sold for £ 4.6M including premium by Christie's on July 3, 2012 over a lower estimate of £ 2M.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's : a detailed view of this painting, including the straight path of Cupid's arrow up to a naked female breast !
1610-1615 Adam and Eve by Wtewael
2011 SOLD for $ 6.2M 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.
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. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
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.
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.