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.
1621 Mystical Loves in Genova
2016 SOLD for $ 30.5M including premium
In 1621, he is invited by the wealthy Genovese merchant Giovanni Antonio Sauli, son of a former Doge of that city, to work in his palazzo as a painter and as an artistic adviser. Gentileschi executes three monumental paintings on the theme of mystical love, an excuse for displaying sensual nudes.
Sublimating the religions, the artist chooses his stories in the Old Testament, Christian parables and Greek myths. Lot's daughters symbolize the expectation, Danae the annunciation and Magdalene the repentance. Success is immediate and in the practice of his time the artist himself will paint a few copies.
The three original paintings of the Palazzo Sauli have long remained in the descendance of the patron. Danae, oil on canvas 161 x 227 cm, is estimated $ 25M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 28, lot 41.
The princess lies on her unmade bed. She is nude excepted a veil of chastity. Cupid opens the curtains to let going the lightning of Jupiter in the form of a shower of golden coins and ribbons. The gesture of the young woman is peaceful and welcoming, with her arm raised in the same oblique direction as the movement of the fertilizing god disguised as gold.
Gentileschi had been too often described as a Caravaggian but his Danae is a masterpiece of late profane mannerism. I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's where the monumental nature of the artwork is highlighted. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
early 1620s The Baroque Synthesis of Johann Liss
2019 SOLD for £ 5.7M including premium
Like so many others including the Caravagesques of Utrecht, he arrives in Italy. He shares his time between Rome and Venice. He will not finish this classic learning tour : he dies in Verona in the epidemic of plague that started in Venice in 1629.
Sandrart, who knew him very well in Venice in 1629, reminded his predilection for this city where they appreciate the expressive colors of Titian and Veronese. He also narrated the impulsive creativity of Liss, able to seek inspiration for several days before rushing to do a new work without taking time to eat and sleep. This immutable cycle ends with a wandering during which he empties his purse we do not know where.
St. Mary Magdalene between Vice and Virtue is a theme borrowed from Jordaens. The semi-nude woman in ecstasy has chosen the nice young Angel who brings her the palm of repentance. She holds a skull, the usual symbol of vanity, and ignores the old woman who is presenting the treasures of the Orient.
This work was composed in the early 1620s. The contrasting lighting, bright on the Good and nonexistent on the Evil, is Caravagesque. The Venetian influence, by which one expects the luxury of the clothes and the shock of the colors, is obvious but not yet dominant.
Two identical oils on canvas exist. Both can be autograph. One of them, 114 x 135 cm, is kept in the Dresden Museum. The other, 99 x 126 cm, surfaced more recently. It was sold for £ 1M including premium by Christie's on December 9, 1994 and is estimated £ 4M for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 3, lot 8. Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's where it is compared with a small painting by Wtewael.
1623 Shakespeare's First Folio
2020 SOLD for $ 10M by Christie's
This man of the stage died in 1616 without having paid attention to the literary value of his own works. Half of his plays were unpublished. The others had been issued as poor quality booklets of which we can be assume that they were not verified by the author.
John Heminges and Henry Condell, who owned overall half of the shares of the Globe Theatre, judiciously decided to reconstruct with the best possible accuracy the whole of Shakespeare's dramatic work. They knew 36 plays of which 18 had never been published. They will have to buy back the publishing rights to some of them and to retrieve the partial manuscripts that had been entrusted to the actors to perform their own role.
The print is of the top luxury, in relation to the literary magnificence of the work. What would later be called the First Folio is a superb volume of 454 leaves 32 x 21 cm, printed in 1623 by Jaggard and Blount. It is forever used as the top reference for any Shakespearean scholarship.
The production run of the First Folio is estimated at around 750 copies. Less than one third survive today. 56 copies are complete, of which only 5 are in private hands.
Shakespeare is the greatest success in English literature and editions are multiplying. Garrick puts Shakespeare still higher in fashion and Edmond Malone devotes his life to the study of his work. Malone proposes in 1778 a chronology of the plays, observes the literary greatness of the First Folio and has a new edition published in 1790.
On October 14, 2020, Christie's sold a complete copy of the First Folio for $ 10M from a lower estimate of $ 4M, lot 12. In 1809 its owner had submitted it to Malone's appreciation just before having it bound. The expert's autograph letter is joined to the volume. Malone found it to be a fine, genuine copy of the First Folio. A few small repairs will be carried out according to his recommendations. This copy has retained the cleanliness observed by Malone more than 200 years ago.
Only five complete copies of the 'First Folio' remain in private hands, and on 24 April in #NewYork, Christie’s will offer the first complete copy to come on the market in almost two decades during our #ExceptionalSale. https://t.co/orNUeX30H0 pic.twitter.com/k90SszIXD0— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) February 25, 2020
1624 Peasant Music at the Time of ter Brugghen
2009 SOLD 10 M$ including premium
The cover of the catalog, however, is entrusted to a master who is not among the best known to the public: Hendrick ter Brugghen.
His oil on canvas 101 x 83 cm, signed and dated 1624, shows a bagpipe player. The auction house said that it was once the pendant of a lute player. Opening the Wikipedia, the artist offers us a flute player. The common characteristics between them is that they show popular instruments far from the luxurious subjects of many other artists.
Each of these musicians is represented alone with his instrument, against a neutral background. The simple beret, the badly cut beard and the naked shoulder of the bagpiper describe a musician of the peasant class. The effects of shadows and light give him presence and even psychology.
Indeed ter Brugghen, who worked in Utrecht, may have known Caravaggio on a trip to Rome and was one of his first followers. The ancient paintings of Caravagesque style are rare in the market, and prices are always high. It is estimated $ 4 million.
POST SALE COMMENT
It was the masterpiece of this great sale. It sold $ 10 million including premium, well above its high estimate.
It had earned the honors of the cover of the catalog.
1624 Cycle of the Seasons by Brueghel the Younger
2016 SOLD for £ 6.5M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2021
The next cycle is a set of four prints on the seasons. The edition, in 1570, includes two works prepared by Hans Bol after Bruegel's death.
Pieter the Younger reuses most of the iconography left by his father. He makes complete sets of the cycle of the seasons, most of which have been dissociated.
Much to the frustration of experts, the only complete example in private hands had not been seen since an auction in Switzerland in 1927. It was sold by Christie's on July 7, 2016 for £ 6.5M including premium from a lower estimate of £ 3M, lot 6, after having been kept aside in a collection for nine decades.
The set consists of four oils on panel 42 x 57 cm each. Two are dated 1624. The four are signed P. Breughel, according to the alteration of his name which he was using since 1616. The arrangement of the signatures and dates suggests that this group was designed to be hung as a 2 x 2 square. The careful and homogeneous workmanship of these four paintings and the identification of the date, very rare for Pieter the Younger, attest to the importance the artist attached to this specific set.
1626 A Mannerist Bronze atop a Fountain
2014 SOLD for $ 28M including premium
It is now listed by Christie's for sale in New York on December 11, lot 10 estimated $ 15M.
Here is my 2011 discussion (slightly reworded) introducing this lot:
During a routine visit to a castle in 2010, the expert from Christie's takes a look at the fountain in the middle of the yard. Thus a previously unknown masterpiece enters the art history.
The bronze 109 cm high adorning the top of the fountain had been in that place for at least 300 years. It is signed by Adriaen de Vries and dated 1626, the year of the artist's death.
Influenced by Giambologna, De Vries was spreading the new fashion for mannerism. Their bronzes give life to muscular bodies twisted in expressive attitudes inspired by antiquity, and which will be much later admired by Rodin.
The theme of the artwork is a naked standing mythological figure carrying a globe. This statue is shown on the article shared in 2011 by Antique Trader.
De Vries is particularly known for his statues for gardens and fountains. Working in Prague for the Emperor Rudolf II, he remained in that city after the death of his patron and accepted private commissions.
The arrival of such a lot on the art market is exceptional. We must go back over twenty years ago to find another authentic bronze by this artist. On 7 December 1989, the Getty bought at Sotheby's for £ 6.8 million including premium a Dancing faun 76 cm high.
1626-1627 A Youthful Master in Leiden
2012 SOLD 8.4 M£ including premium
Rembrandt wants to show his skills as a portraitist and specializes in tronies, these anonymous figures of characters showing varied human types. To win clients, he endeavours to show that he is mastering the technique of painting, the composition, and of course these contrasts of light and shadow made popular by Caravaggio and his followers.
On July 3 in London, Christie's sells the bust portrait of a soldier, a small panel 40 x 29 cm estimated £ 8M. Of course, the character is not identifiable, nor the origin of his uniform.
The chiaroscuro is particularly marked in this work, where half of the face is in the shadow of the wide hat. The realism of this heavy face is pretty neat. Whether you are beautiful or ugly, your best portrait will be done by the specialist, Harmensz Rembrandt van Rijn.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good price slightly below the lower estimate for this early work by Rembrandt: £ 8.4 million including premium.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Christie's.
The image below is shared by Wikimedia.
1627-1972 The Taj Mahal of Elizabeth Taylor
2011 SOLD for $ 8.8M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2021
In 1972, for Elizabeth Taylor's 40th birthday, Richard Burton humorously declares that he would have liked to offer her the Taj Mahal but that the monument was not transportable. The real gift is an evocation of it : a Mughal piece of jewelry, which Burton had bought for around £ 350K.
This jewel is centered with a large heart-shaped diamond inserted in a surrounding of same shape in red stones, jade and small diamonds. The diamond is inscribed in Persian : Nur Jahan Baygum Padshah, 23, 1037. The ribbon for using it as a pendant is faded. Liz Taylor has it replaced by Cartier with a gold chain terminated by a fraying of gold threads bearing rubies.
In the Hegira calendar, 1037, corresponding to 1627 CE, is the year of Jahangir's death in the 23rd year of his reign and thus marks the end of the long recency of his wife Nur Jahan. Shah Jahan is the son and successor of Jahangir.
On December 13, 2011, in the auction by Christie's of Elizabeth Taylor's estate, this jewel designated as the Taj Mahal was sold for $ 8.8M including premium from a lower estimate of $ 300K, lot 56.
After the sale, the buyer, who remained anonymous, understands that there is no evidence that the Taj Mahal jewel was ever in the hands of Jahangir or Shah Jahan. He is an important customer and Christie's is attempting to cancel the sale of this lot. The trust in charge of the actress's estate opposed it in 2015 and 2017 by legal complaints, arguing the absence of irregularity. The end of the story is not known.
1627-1629 St John the Evangelist by Domenichino
2009 SOLD 9.2 M£ including premium
Painter of religious subjects, he was especially a fresco artist, and so was accustomed to very large sizes. The St John the Evangelist I am discussing today is 2.5 x 2 meters, a monumental dimension for an ancient canvas.
The saint in a red dress is in an attitude of a preacher or a teacher, confirmed as such by the two inevitable symbolic putti wearing open books.
This painting was regarded in the eighteenth century as a masterpiece of one of the greatest masters, but fashions change and Domenichino ceased to be so flattered. The scarcity of old works of this size on the market justifies the estimate that Christie's now let filtering before issuing their official release: £ 10 million in London on December 8. This amount is probably the high estimate.
It has the advantage of being fresh on the market, as it belonged to the same family for one hundred years.
The probable date of the artwork falls between 1627 and 1629.
The lower estimate is 7 M£.
POST SALE COMMENT
This painting was one of three major lots in the sale of ancient art by Christie's in London. It was sold £ 9.2 million including premium.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.