1630 An Arrogant Merchant of Haarlem
2008 SOLD 7.1 M£ including premium
This is the portrait of a merchant, whose name is identified, circa 1630. He sits, a little toppled backward on a chair in unstable position. His attitude and his eyes express insolence, arrogance. To confirm this fact, he is shown with a whip in hands, which he bends. Not really nice, man ...
The painting is perfectly realistic, which is all the more remarkable because in his unbalanced position he could not have acted as a model.
Sotheby's is well aware of Frans Hals, since they have obtained all the best results on paintings of this artist, but I have not seen in the archives of sales another work that has a similar psychological strength. Sotheby's suppose that this painting was made for a strictly private use.
The catalogue does not hesitate to give us the last sale price obtained by this painting: 570 K € by ImKinsky in Vienna in 2004. It was then described as a work of a follower of Hals. Sotheby's gives many details about their remarkable study for authentication of the work, and its complete traceability since 1817.
The two major auction houses have decidedly nothing to fear from their rivals. The best connoisseurs of art are named Sotheby's and Christie's.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sotheby's was incredibly self-confident. I hope I have correctly described in my article such an impression given to me when reading the catalogue.
Experts from Sotheby's perfectly mastered it. Clearly assessing that a painting had been sold 570 K € in 2004 and bringing it up to £ 7.1 million charge included, is one of the best successes that I know in terms of auction.
The analysis that led to this result reveals an exceptional capacity for expertise.
It is likely, and even desirable, that Sotheby's has been paid by seller charges for this expertise.
Regarding the seller, I did the calculation. All expenses deducted (of which I can not know the exact rate), there is an increase in value by a factor of 5 to 6 between the purchase of Vienna and the sale of London.
There are still treasures which are moving in front of our eyes, but seeing them requires much increasing skills.
1630 Baroque Exorcism in Flanders
2016 SOLD for $ 4.7M including premium
In 1628, Jordaens is honored to be chosen with Rubens and van Dyck as one of three painters of church altars for the Augustinian church in Antwerp. Each artist makes a separate work but their simultaneous execution brings some overall homogeneity.
Following this success, Jordaens is commissioned in 1630 for an altar piece in the Benedictine monastery of St Martin in Tournai, on the theme of exorcism.
Preparatory drawings are known. One of them, associated with the beginning of the creative process, is arranged around a diagonal pointing to the healing saint. This design is directly inspired by a miracle painted ten years before by Rubens. The baroque crowd is holding the possessed man in the lower part of the image.
An oil on canvas 122 x 87 cm dated 1630 and consistent with this first drawing has just surfaced. It is estimated $ 4M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 28, lot 27.
The Benedictines were demanding about the compliance of the images with their religious interpretation of the stories and this version with a stiff and domineering saint did not suit their purpose. In the version that was finally accepted for the monastery, St Martin is leaning over the crowd. The painting for sale is probably a modello made to facilitate the choice of the composition by the patrons.
An analysis by infrared reflectography shows that the face of one of the assistants of the saint, which resembles another portrait of one of the leading monks of that monastery, overpainted a younger head. It opens the interesting hypothesis that the artist hoped a new order benefiting from his preliminary work, more spectacular and closer to Rubens.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
1630 View in Haarlem at the Time of Frans Hals
2016 SOLD for $ 3M including premium
The Protestant publicist Samuel Ampzing desires to promote his beloved city by a praise in verse with engravings. He entrusts the illustrations to Pieter Saenredam and Jan van de Velde. Saenredam is a great choice for such a job. Passionate about architecture and perspective, he is one of the first artists to focus on meticulously realistic views of the monuments. Ampzing's Beschrijvinge is published in 1628.
To prepare his paintings, Saenredam executes with an abundance of details his drawings which he will transpose onto the panel before applying the color. His care for accuracy, probably unique in his time, enables to attribute a date to some of his works.
On January 28 in New York, Sotheby's sells a view of the Haarlem Town Hall by Saenredam, oil on panel 40 x 50 cm, lot 48estimated $ 2.5M. This view cannot be earlier than the book of Ampzing or subsequent to 1630 when a major renovation of the facade removed the stairs and statues in Palladian Renaissance style still in place at the center of the image.
This artwork is not only a realistic view of Haarlem at the time of Frans Hals. To please his Protestant friends who were elected burgomasters in 1630, Saenredam conceived it as a history painting glorifying the entrance of Maurits in the town twelve years earlier. The artist had decidedly little interest in the characters and had men and horses painted by Pieter Post.
In the rest of his career, Saenredam mostly exploits his talent for geometric accuracy in his views of church interiors.
Nevertheless a view of his native village of Assendelft painted in 1634 anticipates by his non-narrative theme the art of Berckheyde, a quarter century later, that opened the path for the Vedutism of the following century. This oil on panel 36 x 49 cm unique for its time was sold for £ 3.7 million including premium by Christie's on July 3, 2012 over a lower estimate of £ 400K.
1630-1635 Biblical Festivities
2018 SOLD for € 1.5M including premium
His complex scenes are often geometrically structured. For example Eternal dilemma of mankind: the choice between virtue and vice, oil on panel 142 x 211 cm dated 1633 or 1635, is composed in three parallel registers. It was sold for € 7M including premium by Dorotheum on April 21, 2010.
The Crossing of the Red Sea is a frequent theme for this artist. A cradled panel 118 x 214 cm painted around 1630-1635, signed but undated, will be sold in Troyes on September 29 by Ivoire Troyes, lot 255 estimated € 120K here linked on the bidding platform Interencheres.
The back of this panel is painted with an arabesque pattern attesting that this image had been prepared for a large piece of furniture. Another example painted by the same artist with a similar back was designed as a harpsichord lid.
Francken shows the scene of the Red Sea at the time of the liberation of the people of Israel. In front of a towering triangular mountain, the jubilant crowd dances and plays music. The large format makes it possible to multiply the details which include in the foreground an assortment of goldsmith's pieces and an exhibition of pearly shells. Moses completes his work by brandishing his staff. Far away on the other side, Pharaoh's army is engulfed by the waves.
Please watch the video shared by Artcento.
Un panneau monumental peint au XVIIe siècle par Frans Francken II a été découvert près de Troyes. Estimé à plus de 120 000 euros, il sera mis en vente le 29 septembre par @ivoire_troyes @CabinetTurquin— Interencheres (@interencheres) August 23, 2018
➡ https://t.co/xjFtYHy4si pic.twitter.com/XqpyKzqFo0
1631 A Portrait at the Court of Philip IV
2011 SOLD 2.95 M£ including premium
Matthew Shepperson, an unknown English artist who died in 1874, owned soe mediocre paintings that his heirs never handled. They still had to get rid of that and entrusted this operation to the local office of Bonhams in Oxford in August 2010.
A portrait seemed earlier. The Department of Ancient painting of Bonhams alerted a specialist of Velazquez, Dr.Cherry, who confirmed that this oil on canvas, 47 x 39 cm, had all the characteristics of an authentic work of the master.
It is a gentleman in bust length with a high collar behind the neck after the fashion of the courtiers of Philip IV. The face is in bright contrast with the very dark background and the black cloth. Only Velazquez, after his 1631 trip to Italy, was able to achieve such sumptuous shades with a very thin layer of paint.
This attribution to one of the top masters is an event, especially as the works of Velazquez still in private hands are very rare.
The sale takes place on December 7 in London. The painting is estimated £ 2M.
POST SALE COMMENT
It is not easy to directly put into auction an unknown work of an outstanding master. Bonhams has led this operation to success : £ 2.6 million before fees, 2.95 million including premium.
Their attribution was convincing and was not opposed.
I invite you to play the video, well-researched and convincing, shared by Bonhams. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1632 The Little Prince of Orange
2018 SOLD for $ 2.4M including premium
Van Dyck definitively left Antwerp in January 1632. Very cleverly he stopped at the court of The Hague to confirm his expertise by making portraits of the Prince of Orange and of his family. Relationships are close between Stuarts and Oranges. The agents of the King of England are around the corner and commission the artist to make an additional copy of his Orange portraits. The game is won : in April 1632 Van Dyck is triumphantly welcomed in London where he will remain until his death.
The stadhouder's heir is his son Willem who is almost six years old. The young boy is standing full length. He is richly dressed in a long gown in the golden orange color of the princely house of Orange, with lace collar and cuffs. The clothing is princely but the attitude is of any real child, lively and without any trace of childish complacency.
Several versions of this image exist but only two have autograph qualities. The oil on canvas 119 x 105 cm supplied to the stadhouder is kept in the Schloss Musigkau museum in Dessau. The other oil on canvas, 128 x 100 cm, is certainly the portrait of a young Dutch prince listed in the sale of the late King Charles's goods by the Commonwealth in 1652. It is estimated $ 2M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on February 1, lot 42.
The painting that comes at Sotheby's has recently been cleaned, revealing the qualities of an original. Pentimenti have been detected and two almost imperceptible but important details are better than in the Orange version : the curiosity expressed by the boy to an unidentified action out of field and the strength of his dog. From his stay in The Hague, Van Dyck already reserved the best of his art for the King of England.
Prince Willem was to marry in 1641 Princess Mary Henrietta, the eldest daughter of King Charles I. King William III of England was his posthumous son.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1632 Parisian Turqueries
2012 SOLD 1.85 M€ including premium
Thus was born the Manufacture de la Savonnerie, or more precisely in the words of the time "la Manufacture royale de tapisseries de Turquie et ouvrages du Levant."
Success is immediate. One of the first foreign customers is an Italian cardinal, who orders a carpet to the master of one of the workshops, Simon Lourdet, in January 1631 (probably just before the installation at Chaillot).
This carpet of exceptional historic interest, delivered in 1632, is estimated € 1.8 million, for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on April 20.
Now measuring 5.92 x 3.86 m, it is inspired by the East with its motifs of flowers on yellow and red backgrounds. The inner border and some decorative motifs already are Parisian innovations. It is unquestionably earlier than the royal blue or brown carpets made by the same factory for Louis XIII.
No similar example is known. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
This carpet is a milestone in the history of French weaving. Sold € 1.85 million including premium, it has however not reached its lower estimate.
1633 Breakfasts by Heda
2015 SOLD for £ 2.95M including premium
For four decades, he worked a single theme: the still life of foods and utensils for breakfast on a tablecloth covering almost the entire table. This choice was perhaps inspired by his early training as a painter of vanities. The fruit is ephemeral and the utensil is permanent.
In the 1630s, his composition is rigorous, in a great simplicity which certainly inspired the minimalism of Coorte half a century later. The foods are strictly included within the perimeter lines of the table top. Only the higher part of the utensils and the hanging lemon peel are beyond this zone.
On July 8 in London, Sotheby's sells an oil on panel 59 x 80 cm painted in 1633, lot 12 estimated £ 2M.
This artwork is a good example of Heda's improved realism through a subtle treatment of light. The contrasted areas in the background indicate where daylight comes from. The surrounding that escapes direct vision is however visible in the multiple reflections of a single window, in glasses, silverware and olives but not in pewter.
Subsequent compositions with a crumpled tablecloth and an increased quantity of objects are more complex. The artist desired to demonstrate that his control of geometry could be applied not only to order but also to disorder. An oil on panel 81 x 102 cm painted in 1644 was sold for £ 4.8 million including premium by Christie's on July 8, 2014 over a lower estimate of £ 1.5M.
1633-1635 Francken between Vice and Virtue
2010 SOLD 7 M€ including premium
On April 21 in Vienna, Dorotheum sells as lot 5 an outstanding oil on panel 142 x 211 cm by Francken on the moralizing theme of human choice between vices and virtues.
The composition is in two superimposed registers, according to the practice which had been so common in medieval iconography, long before this painting dated 1633 or 1635.
Upstairs, in an architectural environment, a pilgrim is surrounded by the virtues, on the left of the image, and vices and sins, on the right. Above him, a cloud is housing the Paradise. The lower register shows Hell with Satan and his pleasures.
POST SALE COMMENT
I think that nothing similar went on the market since a long time. The result, € 7 million including premium, confirms the importance of this painting. A great result for a great work, from all points of view.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1638 Traditions and Colophons
2012 SOLD 1.76 M$ including premium
The figurative Chinese art, like their pottery, has been for centuries a matter of continuous improvement. The best painters wanted above all to be regarded as perfect imitators of the great old masters and endeavoured to transfer their reputation.
This activity involves a deep feeling in art criticism, especially when considering that scientific methods of authentication were not yet existing. The court artists frequented assiduously the scholars who commented directly on the artworks through the signed and dated colophons which prolonged the scrolls.
On September 13 in New York, Sotheby's sells a mountainous landscape made by one of the last artists of the Ming court, Lan Ying. This huge horizontal handscroll, 49 x 1022 cm, is estimated $ 1.2 M. Here is the link to the catalog.
Famous in his time, Lan is known as an imitator of more than twenty masters. In these troubled times preceding thefall of the Ming, he feels in harmony with artists who, three centuries earlier, sought the Taoist peace despite the foreign domination of the Yuan.
So, the scroll for sale is an imitation of Wu Zhen. Five contemporary colophons enable to date it in 1638 of our calendar. Commentators praised: the artist reached the same perfection as the master. One of them even told that he accompanied Lin when he visited the mountains to perceive the landscape just like the Yuan artist had viewed it.
POST SALE COMMENT
This monumental work remained in the lower range of the estimate. It was sold $ 1.76 million including premium.
Realized in the same period by Hongren, a smaller handscroll, 15 x 347 cm, was sold $ 3.2 million including premium.