1770 Mozart in Verona
2019 SOLD for € 4M including premium
The father, Leopold, is a musician. He wants to give keyboard lessons to his seven year old daughter Nannerl. The boy, three years old, approaches and begins to play flawlessly with a visible pleasure. His first instrument will be a harpsichord.
From 1763 to 1766 the Mozart family makes a grand tour of concerts in Northern Europe including very long stays in Paris and London. The young musician is very receptive to the styles of the local composers.
It remains for the Mozarts to conquer Italy, where the reputation of the young prodigy has preceded them. It is for this trip started in December 1769 that he changes Theophilus for its Latin translation Amadeus. He will be 14 years old on January 27, 1770.
The first important step is Verona. The organ concert of January 5, 1770 is a total success, acclaimed by the local press. He is for two weeks a host to the local official representative of the Republic of Venice, Pietro Lugiati.
They must keep a memory of these wonderful moments. Lugiati has Wolfgang Amadeus pose in his music room for a local painter who has not been identified. The teenager sits with his hands on the keyboard of an ancient harpsichord that most likely belongs to Lugiati. He is turning his head to look at the artist, which creates a remarkable portrait almost in full face. The musical sheet on the harpsichord is perfectly decipherable but has not been identified.
This oil on canvas 70 x 57 cm remained in Verona until 1856. It now comes from the collection of the pianist Alfred Cortot who died in 1962. It is estimated € 800K for sale by Christie's in Paris on November 27, lot 217. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1770 The Girls get up
2006 SOLD 2.7 M£ including premium by Sotheby's
Jean-Honoré Fragonard looks for fame, and specializes in the boudoir painting so much appreciated in the licentious court of Louis XV. In 1769, his marriage with the miniaturist Marie-Anne Gérard changes his vision of life and art.
For his new customers enjoying the risqué, Fragonard shows how love leads girls from innocence to motherhood. He treats this highly Rousseauist theme in remaining voluntarily at the border between genre and eroticism, not restraining to show the shirts wide open on bare flesh.
These future women are playing with small dogs. They still know nothing about love. The brushwork is fast, without preliminary drawing, providing the impression of spontaneity and freshness intended by the artist.
An oil on canvas painted circa 1770, 74 x 59 cm, shows two girls at get-up time in full light. One of them is standing and tries to dance her dog. The pet is observed by the other girl, still in bed with her own dog. In the shadow on the left, a mirror reflects the first girl.
This painting was sold for £ 2.7 million including premium by Sotheby's on July 5, 2006, having been earlier sold 8.2 million FF by Etude Tajan on December 12, 1995. Expecting another gain, it is estimated $ 6M, for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 30. Here is the link to the catalog .
POST 2014 SALE COMMENT
The expected gain in relation to the 2006 sale was not realistic. Unsold
1770 Blue Portraits by Thomas Gainsborough
2016 SOLD for $ 3.25M including premium
The Royal Academy of Arts is founded in 1768. The first exhibition made in the following year marks the triumph of its first president, Joshua Reynolds, who expresses his theories in popular lectures. Gainsborough, who is a founding member of the Academy, disagrees. The opposition between the theoretical approach of Reynolds and the spontaneity of Gainsborough exacerbates their fertile rivalry.
Reynolds does not like the cold colors. Gainsborough is seeking their merit by studying the best portraitist who has worked in England, Van Dyck. The blue captures the attention of the viewer and can be used in large areas to show a silk garment. His Blue boy, oil on canvas 178 x 112 cm painted circa 1770, is a famous challenge by Gainsborough to Reynolds.
On January 27 in New York, Sotheby's sells the Blue page by Gainsborough, lot 62 estimated $ 3M. The discussions to identify whether this oil on canvas 166 x 113 cm is a sketch or a following to the Blue boy are inconclusive.
Gainsborough painted the Blue page for his private use with the same model as the Blue boy, perhaps his nephew and assistant who was sixteen years old. The difficulty of identifying the background of the scene can be interpreted as a test for the balance of colors but the less static attitude of the boy who goes away after achieving his session appears instead as a conclusion.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1770 Catherine of Russia promotes the French Taste
2013 SOLD 1.78 M€ including premium
Catherine was so happy with the result that she offered the service to her favorite, Count Orloff, and then took the whole back for her shortly after his death. Known afterwards as the Orloff service, this is a great example of the neoclassical style that took over the rococo with more power in the shape and better simplicity in the decoration.
Many pieces have disappeared, probably melted, and what remained was dispersed by the Soviet government. The arrival on the market of heavy pieces from the Orloff service is always an event.
On 19 April 2002, Christie's sold for $ 930K including premium a pair of high vase-shaped coolers. The total weight of this lot was 9468 g.
Two lots of pieces from the Orloff service are sold by Christie's in Paris on November 8.
The tureen with cover and stand made in 1770 by the younger Roettiers is estimated € 1.5 million, for a total weight of 11960 g. Here is the link to the catalog.
A suite of four candlesticks made in 1771 also by the son is estimated € 500K, for a total weight of 7460 g. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result is consistent with the expectation for these two prestigious lots: € 1.78 million including premium for the tureen and € 600K including premium for the suite of candlesticks.
1773 Calligraphy Scrolls by the Qianlong Emperor
2014 SOLD for RMB yuan 116M including premium by Poly
1773 Gainsborough in Bath
2019 SOLD for £ 8M including premium
From 1758 to 1774 he lives and works in Bath where he finds a new clientele and gets closer to nature. The English society is undergoing a transformation at that time, at the expense of the poorer classes. This easily irritable artist is a sentimental who manages to bring charity.
On July 3 in London, Sotheby's sells Going to market, early morning, lot 22 estimated £ 7M.
This oil on canvas of large size, 122 x 147 cm, is a perfect balance between the landscape and the staging of characters and animals. A group on horseback reaches the top of a hill above the plain in the beautiful cold light of dawn.
This work is not narrative but social, showing the occupations of poor people. The group is led by a pretty young woman with big baskets of goods. She is admired by a young peasant. They are followed by three colliers who go to the mine for their daily hiring. Sitting on the side of the path, a woman with two very young children is hoping for charity.
Going to market was sold in 1773 by Gainsborough to the banker Henry Hoare. A patron of the arts, Hoare was nicknamed Henry the Magnificent. With this masterpiece, Gainsborough certainly desired to share his social sensitivity with his influential client.
This attention brought by Gainsborough to the rural transformations is contemporary with the paintings of the English industrial revolution by Wright of Derby.
#AuctionUpdate One of #Gainsborough’s finest masterpieces in private hands, and one of the finest 18th century British landscapes by any artist ever likely to be offered. ‘Going to Market, Early Morning’ breaks the artist’s record at £7,961,000. #SothebysOldMasters pic.twitter.com/Vhj593rOr0— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) July 3, 2019
1773-1775 Violin by Guadagnini
2018 SOLD for £ 1.6M including premium by Tarisio
ca 1774 Régulateur de Parquet by Berthoud
1999 SOLD for £ 1.93M including premium by Christie's
1775 Gainsborough, the Master of the English Portrait
2011 SOLD 6.5 M£ including premium
Each of these oils on canvas is a full-length portrait, standing, life size or so. The Lady sitted circa 1775. The painting measures 226 x 147 cm. The Colonel is typical of the art of the master around 1780. Its format, 227 x 152 cm, is almost identical.
Both models look towards the artist. The masquerade dress of the young woman and the military uniform are illustrated with great realism, like the faces of the sitters.
Estimates give the advantage to the Lady, with £ 4M. Colonel expects £ 3.5 M.
POST SALE COMMENT
Honor to the Lady, sold £ 6.5 million including premium.
In June 2002 at Sotheby's, the Colonel was worth £ 2.4 million hammer. The expected added value was too high. Unsold.
1776 Portrait of Omai by Joshua Reynolds
2001 SOLD 10.3 M£ including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
His arrival in London in October 1774 was a social event. Omai is handsome. He has a quick wit and good looks which remain exotic. Celebrated like a prince by the aristocracy, this son of a Polynesian peasant is in England the first living symbol of the myth of the "noble savage" which echoes Rousseau's "bon sauvage".
Joshua Reynolds, the founding president of the Royal Academy, is a painter of worldly portraits. In 1776 at the exhibition of the Academy, he displays among other paintings a portrait of Omai, oil on canvas 230 x 140 cm. The young man is standing in a proud attitude. The clothes are luxurious.
This portrait somehow inaugurates the orientalist painting and its idealism. Reynolds achieves a spectacular effect, without seeking realism. The flowing robe is inspired by the Roman toga and the oriental turban is nothing Polynesian. The landscape behind him is Greek, with a few palm trees.
This artwork is unique in the art of Reynolds, who probably created it especially without commission for the exhibition of 1776 and kept it in his studio until his death. It was sold for £ 10.3M including premium by Sotheby's on November 29, 2001. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Omai returned to Polynesia with Cook's third voyage.
1776 Exotic Tygers
2014 SOLD 7.7 M£ including premium
Images of horses were welcomed by the English aristocracy. Stubbs was a gifted painter. He was the only artist capable of applying the theme of the animal as a specialty of major art.
In London, menageries are in the trend. Visitors dream of the distant lands from where the wild beasts have come. As early as 1762 Stubbs painted a lion attacking a horse. Lions and those other big cats designated at that time under the generic term of tygers soon occupy the top place in his art.
On July 9 in London, Sotheby's sells Tygers at play, oil on canvas 102 x 127 cm estimated £ 4M.
Two leopard kittens play with great vivacity in an imaginary exotic landscape certainly inspired by the passion of the contemporaries for Cook's discoveries. These friendly animals respond positively to the postulate of Rousseau on natural goodness at birth.
This undated painting was exhibited for the first time in 1776. Carefully preserved with discretion for almost two centuries by a British aristocratic family, it remains in a very exciting condition.
POST SALE COMMENT
This great example of animal orientalism was sold for £ 7.7M including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's:
1776 The Dunlap Broadside
2000 SOLD for $ 8.1M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
On July 4, 1776 the original manuscript of the Declaration was signed by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress and especially of this memorable session, and by Charles Thomson, secretary of the Congress. From then they had to act in a hurry to propagate the information in the thirteen colonies and to the army. They had no time left for preparing a clean copy of that draft amended during the debates or a fortiori to have it signed by the delegates who have just approved its text.
The manuscript is forwarded to John Dunlap, a printer operating in Philadelphia who is the usual contractor for official Congress documents. The broadside is printed during the night of July 4 to 5. The manuscript no longer matters : it is lost in this operation. Hancock organizes the distribution of the document while urging each recipient to disclose the text by any appropriate means.
The quantity of copies of the Dunlap broadside is not known although the figure of 200 seems fair. 25 copies survive. Almost all are in US institutions or museums.
One of them was found in 1989 by a bargain hunter in the backside of the frame of a torn painting that he had just bought. It was sold for $ 8.1M including premium by Sotheby's on June 29, 2000, a record at the time for an Internet auction.
The buyer was the television producer Norman Lear supported by Internet entrepreneur David Hayden. Lear is not a collector. He immediately organized the Declaration of Independence Road Trip, a non-profit organization committed for displaying this historic document to as many people as possible through tours from city to city.
1776 An English Commission for Vernet
2011 SOLD 7 M$ including premium
When he returned to France, King Louis XV commissioned him a series of monumental paintings showing life in the ports of France. He worked to it during ten years, from 1753 to 1762, and realized fourteen large size paintings, 263 x 165 cm.
The compositions are similar to those of his contemporary of Venice, Francesco Guardi. The ports are realistic and recognizable. In the foreground, on the waterfront, a crowd of small figures brings the atmosphere of the time.
The English aristocrats were lovers of art and tourism. In 1774, one of them ordered to the artist a pair of paintings of a similar size as those of the royal commission. One of them is estimated $ 1.5 million, for sale at Sotheby's in New York on January 27.
Dated 1776, it shows a quiet sea shore at sunset. Small characters are unloading some merchandise from a tall ship that can be seen offshore. Buildings on the left are certainly part of a port facility. It is not located and is probably a work of imagination, as many of the unofficial paintings by Vernet.
Vernet's art is a realistic witnessing of his time, much interesting and also unexpected as it comes between the mythological imagination of le Lorrain (Claude Gellée) and the sentimental excesses of the Romantics.
POST SALE COMMENT
It is a very good day for the lovers of marine views by Vernet.
As I understood it, the painting described in my article could be compared to the most famous masterpieces of Vernet. It was sold $ 7M including premium.
A marine of smaller dimensions, 57 x 74 cm, was sold for $ 2.4 million including premium.
1776 The Emeralds of Catherine the Great
2010 SOLD 1.65 M$ including premium
In November 2008, Christie's presented in Geneva a necklace assembled for an English aristocrat with Colombian emeralds which had once belonged to the Empress, for a total weight of one hundred carats. This lot estimated 1.8 MCHF had not been sold.
On April 22, the same auction house presents in New York a jewel more prestigious, more beautiful, from certain provenance ... and less expensive: it is estimated $ 1 million. It is a brooch centered by an hexagonal Colombian emerald weighing over 60 carats, in a sumptuous surrounding of old cut diamonds. Here is its image in the press release shared by Diamonds.net.
At the wedding of his son and future successor Paul in 1776, Catherine gave the brooch to the bride, Sophie Dorothea. I already had the opportunity to observe the fundamental role of gifts exchanged by the Russian Imperial family for the make and circulation of art objects. Thank you Catherine!
POST SALE COMMENT
The brooch of Catherine of Russia was sold $ 1.65 million including premium. It was shown before the sale in the lower section of the page shared by The Epoch Time.
Another historic jewel of the sale, visible at the top of the same page, was a white diamond weighing nearly 40 carats which belonged to the short-lived Emperor of Mexico Maximilian I. It was sold $ 1.76 million including premium.
1777 Poetry of a Sunset Sky
2010 SOLD 2.4 M£ including premium
Sotheby's sale on July 14 in London includes a watercolor, 43 x 62 cm, estimated £ 500 K, showing the hill of Castel Gandolfo reflected in the lake of Albano. The work is dominated by a bright sunset sky preparing a storm, while the details of the landscape are barely sketched.
Cozens has twice traveled to Italy, from 1776-1779 and in 1782-1783. Wikipedia publishes the image of our watercolor by dating it circa 1777. Sotheby's, more cautious, is not as accurate.
It is unclear what Cozens made between his second return from Italy and 1794, the year Dr. Monro began to take him over for incurable dementia. Monro hosted a circle of artists whose most famous member was Thomas Girtin, and which had a direct influence on Turner.
POST SALE COMMENT
The market for ancient art is sensitive to the importance of works in the history of art. The price reached by this outstanding watercolor is remarkable: £ 2.4 million including premium.
The image is shared by Wikimedia :
1778 Royal commode by Jean-Henri Riesener for Louis XVI
1999 SOLD 7 M£ including premium by Christie's
1778 Presented by Lafayette to Washington
2002 SOLD for $ 2M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
The involvement of the Marquis de La Fayette in the American Revolution is inextricably linked to his admiration for George Washington. The two men had met in August 1777, two months after Lafayette's arrival in America. The young French officer then participated in the difficult episodes of Brandywine and Valley Forge.
Lafayette knows that he has the means to help Washington. After the official alliance between France and the Americans, he returned temporarily to France in 1779 to contribute to propaganda and send reinforcements, spending at that time $ 200,000 on his personal fortune.
The steel mounted pistols inlaid with silver and gold are signed by Jacob Walster, a gunsmith operating in Saarbruck (Saarbrucken), little documented but whose competence is attested by the supply of a pair of pistols to King George III. La Fayette probably made this acquisition while he was garrisoned in Metz, between August 1775 and June 1776. The gift was probably made in 1778.
Transferred by inheritance from Washington to one of his nephews, these historic pieces are offered by the son-in-law of the nephew to Andrew Jackson in 1824 in testimony of support for his first presidential campaign, where he was overcome by John Quincy Adams. When he died, Jackson bequeathed the pistols to the son of Lafayette, who had also been a godson of George Washington. They will remain in Lafayette's family until 1958.
1779 George Washington at Princeton by Charles Willson Peale
2006 SOLD 21.3 M$ including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Washington is towering by his tall stature and by his phlegm, and surprises his assistants by his abnegation and his virtues. It is not enough. He had never exercised a command on the battlefield and his weak and inexperienced army has everything to learn.
Everything seems easy for the British in December 1776, to the point that they decide to take up their winter quarters in New Jersey, waiting for the sunny days to capture Philadelphia. George Washington will soon be unable to pay his exhausted troops. In a heroic burst, he surprises the British garrisons in Trenton and Princeton. These were the first ever victories of the American army.
The war remains undecided, and they must continue to set an example. On January 18, 1779, the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania commissions a portrait of General Washington to Charles Willson Peale.
The young artist had made an early portrait of the hero at Mount Vernon in 1772. He had been part of the reinforcements from the militias of Pennsylvania who had contributed to the victories of Trenton and Princeton, and had been appreciated by the soldiers for the miniature portraits painted on the field of battle.
The work which responds to the order from Pennsylvania is a full-length standing portrait of Washington after the Battle of Princeton. The hero is displayed in his signature attitude of modesty, without the face or the clothing having been embellished. He puts his hand on a cannon. Symbols of victory include a column of British prisoners with their red coats. This oil on canvas 246 x 149 cm is kept at the museum of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
The strengthening of the young nation also includes an international propaganda to its new French and Spanish allies. Autograph replicas are made by the artist. One of them, oil on canvas 244 x 156 cm dated 1779, was conveyed to Spain by an American diplomat. The political message gradually lost its force and the painting ended up being bequeathed to a Capuchin school in the Basque region, where it was bought around 1918 by an antiquarian dealer from New York.
This portrait of Washington at Princeton was sold for $ 21.3M including premium by Christie's on January 21, 2006, lot 547, over a lower estimate of $ 10M. Please watch the video prepared in 2015 by the auction house to remind the sale of this outstanding painting, the last of its type in private hands.
1775-1785 Artistic Marquetry for King Louis XVI
2008 SOLD 1.7 M£ including premium
Since the beginning of the year, we saw some French furniture difficult to sell or sadly unsold at far lower heights. Our table, however, has some qualities that allow it to expect a high price.
With its fine scenery of flowers inlaid in colored wood marquetry, decorated with bronze and high perched on his tapering legs, it belongs to a group of furniture for which it is known that Jean Henri Riesener realized them specifically for the king, between 1775 and 1785. It is therefore a true royal Louis XVI furniture, although this specimen was perhaps kept by Riesener for his personal use. As it is often the case, the interior fittings of the three drawers to make it a writing table are no longer in their original condition.
Leaving France after the revolution of 1848, this table was then entrusted to the care of the English aristocracy and was displayed in the most important collection of the history of European furniture, that of Mentmore Towers.
In the same sale will be presented the exceptional potpourri in Qianlong porcelain mounted in bronze during Louis XV reign that I previously discussed (Lot 64).
POST SALE COMMENT
At least again a great price for a French piece of furniture of the eighteenth century, but it is a price level that can only be reached by royal models:
£ 1.7 million charge included.