1841 View of Venice by Turner
2006 SOLD for $ 36M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Turner had an unlimited confidence in the correctness of his vision. Annoyed by the posthumous influence of Bonington, he exhibited new views of Venice during the summer of 1833 at the Royal Academy, to serve as models of the expression of atmosphere and poetry in painting, without having seen again the City of the Doges. He made his second stay there at the end of the same year and finally considered including Venice in his regular work.
An identical sequence of events took place in 1840, with two views of Venice exhibited at the Royal Academy before his departure for his third and final visit, which lasted two weeks only. This time the ethereal charm of Venice has operated.
In the following years, Turner was making a distinction between the watercolor sketches and the views in larger format which he considered as his finished works, the only ones worthy of being exhibited and sold. His finished views of Switzerland are large watercolors and his finished views of Venice are oils on canvas.
Painted in his studio after his come back, the panoramic views of Venice deserved a larger format than the watercolors. In order not to lose anything in the luminosity and the freshness of the colors, he paints Venice in oil with the same pigments as his watercolors. The pre-impressionist atmosphere also suggests that he had transferred the wet in wet technique of his watercolors onto his canvases, before adding the more realistic narrative drawing of the gondolas.
On April 6, 2006, Christie's sold as lot 97 for $ 36M including premium a view of the Giudecca with La Donna della Salute and San Giorgio. This oil on canvas 61 x 92 cm was prepared by Turner for the 1841 exhibition of the Royal Academy. As often with this artist, the perfection of the composition and the color balance prevail over the topographic reality.
A 24 x 30 cm watercolor showing the Dogana under the new moon was sold for £ 960K including premium by Christie's on July 10, 2014, lot 209. The evanescent clarity may be compared with the atmosphere of the oil on canvas discussed above.
1841 Heidelberg after the Rain
2013 SOLD 4.6 M$ including premium
At 65, Turner is at the top of his art. He retains in his watercolors the exceptional light and iridescence from bad weather conditions. The landscape is always recognizable, and improved with small figures engaged in their daily tasks.
To respond to the order, he sketches Heidelberg when the rain has stopped and the rainbow is just beginning to rise. This large watercolor, 35 x 53 cm, was probably made in 1841. It will be published in 1846 by Prior.
The artwork presents a curiosity that is not a fantasy. Several characters are in medieval costume. Turner remains a witness of his time: the Heidelberg students used to dress in that way.
This is one of the most successful watercolors by Turner. It was rewarded by a price of £ 2M including premium at Sotheby's on 14 June 2001. It is now estimated $ 4M, for sale by Sotheby's in New York on January 31. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
This very interesting example of a view made to order was sold $ 4.6 million including premium.
1841 Flight to the Celestial City
2015 SOLD for £ 2.7M including premium
In 1841, a pair of oils on canvas deals with these two extreme aspects of supernatural life in the exhibition at the Royal Gallery. It also demonstrates the artist's ability to illustrate opposite effects: happiness and horror.
The very dark and sinister Pandemonium displays Satan's capital. This oil on canvas 123 x 184 cm in its original artist's frame was sold for £ 1.65M including premium by Christie's on February 19, 2003 and entered the Louvre in 2006.
Its pendant, The Celestial city and the River of bliss, 123 x 194 cm, is estimated £ 2M for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 8,lot 57.
The city of perpetual happiness floats above the bend of a river in paradise. Object of desire to the dead of the Last Judgment, it is barely visible, like a halo in the clouds. The angel knows the way: it goes straight, carrying a character in its flight.
The art of John Martin was lucrative but his dreamlike themes do appear as a distant precursor of surrealism. Glenn Brown did not miss it. Diverting an Apocalyptic scenery by Martin, he entitled his own artwork The Tragic Conversion of Salvador Dali. The market likes contemporary art. This oil on canvas 222 x 323 cm painted in 1998 was sold for £ 5.2 million including premium by Sotheby's on June 26, 2012.
1842 The Blue Rigi by Turner
2006 SOLD for £ 5.8 M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Back again in his workshop after his 1841 trip to Switzerland, he considers that the quality of his watercolors is worthy of his large format "finished" works, the only ones which he offers for sale. In 1842 he prepares fifteen 24 x 30 cm views of Lucerne and its surroundings for demonstrating the light effect to his clients, before copying each sketch in a larger 30 x 45 cm as a single unit. It is likely that this uniqueness enabled him to justify the very high price of these "finished" watercolors, 80 guineas each.
Three of these views show the Rigi beyond the Lake of Lucerne at different hours of the day. The mountain is dark before dawn, blue at sunrise and red at twilight. These pictures precede Monet's variations of light on the Poplars and on the Cathedral of Rouen by half a century, although Turner did not conceive them as a series.
The Blue Rigi is one of four "finished" watercolors that are available before inviting the customers. It is bought by the collector Bicknell, who had acquired a pre-impressionist oil on canvas of the Giudecca in the previous year.
The Blue Rigi was sold for £ 5.8M including premium by Christie's on June 5, 2006, lot 53. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
To serve as a pendant, Bicknell had ordered one of the eleven works remaining to be produced, a view of the Lake of Lucerne from Brunnen which will be sold for £ 2.05M including premium by Sotheby's on July 4, 2018. The choice of this collector was excellent : his oil on canvas from Venice referred above was sold for $ 36M including premium by Christie's on April 6, 2006.
Turner persists in his unprecedented style. A pre-impressionist oil on canvas painted in 1845 showing the seaside at Folkestone was sold for £ 7.4M including premium by Sotheby's on July 5, 1984, the highest price recorded at auction at that time for any work of art.
1842 Sharing the Watercolors
2018 SOLD for £ 2.05M including premium
In the spring of 1842 his commercial agent Thomas Griffith organized in London the sale of ten artworks of which only four were completed at that time. The artist has made sketches for a total of fifteen views that will allow customers to appreciate in advance the effect of the final work.
Griffith selects four clients for this operation. Three of them are great collectors of modern art. The very young John Ruskin whose reputation as an art critic is already established is the fourth. He will later rightly recognize that this series of watercolors is the best of Turner in his entire career in that technique.
The most ancient collector does not accept the invitation. The most motivated is Munro of Novar who in 1836 had the rare honor of being accepted as Turner's traveling companion. He leaves with three finished watercolors and buys two of the future works. Ruskin also chooses two future works.
The other customer is the shipowner Bicknell who had bought in 1841 the view of the Giudecca. This oil on canvas 61 x 92 cm is a masterpiece from the pictures of Venice by Turner. It was sold for $ 36M including premium by Christie's on April 6, 2006.
In the sharing of the Swiss views, Bicknell takes the Blue Rigi, one of the four immediately available watercolors 30 x 45 cm. This picture of the mountain against the light at dawn is a masterpiece of pre-impressionist art with the clarity and luminosity of a watercolor on paper. It was sold for £ 5.8M including premium by Christie's on June 5, 2006.
To have a pendant view to his Rigi from the watercolors still to be achieved, Bicknell chooses a view of the Lake of Lucerne from Brunnen. It is estimated £ 1.2M for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 4, lot 209.
After supplying the view of the lake to Bicknell, Turner gives its preparatory watercolor to Griffith. The sketches were not intended for trade. Turner will retain all the others that will be part of his legacy to Tate Britain. This smaller watercolor from Lake Lucerne 25 x 31 cm was sold for $ 1.1M including premium by Christie's on January 30, 2018.
1844-1847 The Peace of Isaiah
2020 SOLD for $ 4.6M including premium
Each opus shows the holy land of the messianic prophecies of Isaiah. In the background William Penn negotiates peace with the Delaware Indians. Founder of Bucks County, Penn is the local hero and an example to follow. First Quaker in America, he knew by his good will to obtain this lasting agreement between two communities which were considered as irreconcilable.
Early examples of the Peaceable Kingdom frequently include an eight-verse sermon directly inspired by Isaiah 11: 6-7 which establishes the spiritual relationship between the two stories :
When the great Penn his famous treaty made
With indian chiefs beneath the Elm tree's shade
The wolf did with the lambkin dwell in peace
His grim carnivorous nature there did cease
The leopard with the harmless kid laid down
And not one savage beast was seen to frown
The lion with the fatling on did move
A little child was leading them in love
In 1827 a cousin of the artist named Elias Hicks generated the first great split in the community, in a rural reaction against the bourgeois trend of the Philadelphia Quakers. Banners and poems disappear from Edward's paintings, presumably for protection against factious interpretations.
The detail of the composition changes. The Messianic child with an adult head and wisdom is relegated to the background, leaving the place of honor to the reclining leopard. Suddenly in an image created in 1844 the leopard rises on his four legs, arches his back and howls to encourage his female to action.
On January 24 in New York, Christie's sells a Peaceable Kingdom painted between 1844 and 1847 with the same militant attitude of the leopard. This oil on canvas 60 x 80 cm is estimated $ 1.5M, lot 211.
This feline energy is not irremediable. A Peaceable Kingdom 66 x 75 cm painted between 1846 and 1848 with again the leopard of serenity was sold in 2010 by Sotheby's in a private sale for $ 7M after the cancellation for non-payment of the bidding of May 22, 2008 which had reached $ 9.7M including premium.
At the end of his life, Edward Hicks may have had metaphysical doubts. Dated circa 1849, Washington at the Delaware indeed tells a glorious episode in local history, but this resolutely militaristic theme seems to be in total opposition to the Quaker pacifism.
The Important American Furniture, Folk Art and Silver sale in #AmericanaWeek #NewYork is led by a magnificent Edward Hicks, ‘Peaceable Kingdom’ - a “Late Kingdom” masterpiece made at the height of the artist’s career and one of the most successful examples of his famous subject. pic.twitter.com/TFr3dixsjZ— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) December 21, 2019
1845 Seaside at Folkestone by Turner
1984 SOLD for £ 7.4M including premium by Sotheby's
1845 Corot above the Fireplace
2018 SOLD for $ 9M including premium
Nobody is really convinced by the art of Corot until the young Baudelaire, in 1845, observes that the simplicity of his landscapes is not naive but is instead a supreme harmony. As a result Corot's art is forever unclassifiable, between classicism and modernism. Despite his pleasure in open-air painting, he cannot be considered as a forerunner of the Impressionnistes, in the opposite of Boudin and Courbet slightly later.
Throughout his life Corot has a lot of friends. He supplies paintings to a magistrate of Mantes whom he met from 1840 and decorates in his own hand the walls of the bathroom with Italian views.
Corot had visited Venice in 1828 and 1834. For the same friend he painted in 1845 an enlarged version in the format 48 x 82 cm of a view of the quay of the Schiavoni towards Santa Maria della Salute.
In 1957 this painting caught the attention of David Rockefeller. It is not a Canaletto : the animation is poor. It is not a Guardi : the sky is too blue. It is neither a Turner nor a Monet : the line is too sharp to offer an atmosphere. Despite the confusing perspective on the Piazzetta, it is not a wide-angle photo. The erroneous shadows of earlier versions of this image have fortunately been rectified.
This bright painting has two other qualities : it exudes a great serenity and its width is in harmony with the fireplace of the library in the country house at Hudson Pines. It superseded at this place a Jas de Bouffan by Cézanne of which Rockefeller was tired and was to remain there until his death. It is estimated $ 5M for sale by Christie's in New York on May 8, lot 4.
mid 1840s The Light of England
2019 SOLD for £ 8.2M including premium
He admires the Liber Veritatis of Le Lorrain. A series of 71 images engraved between 1807 and 1819 under the title Liber Studiorum brings together Turner's landscape studies that can indeed be used by clients to commission "finished works".
Time passes. Turner is famous despite his eccentric temperament. His artistic creativity remains intact. He is aware that his art is unprecedented and decides to bequeath hundreds of pieces to the British nation. Eager for a posthumous recognition, he nevertheless flees his lifetime celebrity, spending his last years in Chelsea under the name of Mr Booth which was the surname of his companion Sophia.
In his later works the landscapes are literally wrapped in light, with a gradual vanishing of figurative details. He retrieves his dear old themes of the Liber Studiorum, which he reissues in 1845 in fifteen additional copies printed from the original plates under the influence of Ruskin.
The corpus of these late paintings made by Turner in direct relationship with the Liber includes nine large size artworks. Only one is still in private hands. This oil on canvas 88 x 118 cm is estimated £ 4M for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 3, lot 11.
This painting is inspired by an image of the Liber titled The Bridge in the Middle Distance. A confusion with the views of Italy, perhaps due to the light of the Venice views painted after his 1840 trip, has long masked the topographical theme of this image, the double Walton Bridge on the Thames, one of his favorite sites. The landscapes of J.M.W. Turner are universal.
1846-1848 The Peaceable Kingdom with the Leopard of Serenity by Edward Hicks
2008 SOLD for $ 9.7M including premium by Sotheby's (UNPAID 4 months later)
The image is shared by WikiGallery.
1847 The Bordeaux Cover
1993 SOLD for CHF 6.1M including premium by David Feldman (worth US $ 4.1M at that time)
narrated in 2020
The issue of 500 stamps of each denomination is ready just in time to be used for an invitation to a costume ball at Government House. The postal rate is 1 penny for a delivery in Port Louis and 2 pence for the rest of the island.
The stamps are inscribed POST OFFICE on the left edge, which corresponds to the marks previously used by this post, and also to the first US stamps issued in the same year. This first release is unique. A few months later, new plaques are prepared for multiple printing. The two editions differ in the text, which becomes POST PAID.
The POST OFFICE version of the Mauritius stamps is extremely rare. Four lots were sold by David Feldman on November 3, 1993 : two unused stamps and two covers.
The only known unused copy of the 1 penny was sold for CHF 1.4M before fees. One of the four unused copies of the 2 pence was sold for CHF 1.5M before fees. One of the four surviving covers mailed for the invitation to the ball was sold for CHF 1.4M before fees.
A cover sent from Port Louis to a wine merchant in Bordeaux has been stamped at the overseas rate and includes a copy of each denomination. Discovered in 1902 by a schoolboy who was consulting the recipient's archives, it is kept with its letter. It was sold for CHF 5M before fees, CHF 6.1M including premium.
The images are shared by Wikimedia.
1848 The Presentation of the Porcelains to the Tsar
2009 SOLD 2.6 M£ including premium
Financially, these gifts were offset by increasing orders from the Emperor for offering similar pieces to his allies in the ruling royal and ducal families of other countries. I have already had occasion to note in this group the role that gifting had for aristocratic cohesion at the Imperial court of Russia.
The pair of porcelain vases from St. Petersburg that Sotheby's is selling in London on June 10 is a technical feat. Dated 1848, 1.5 meters high, it is the largest format that has been done at that time by this factory.
These enormous vases are adorned with ring shaped reproductions of paintings from the collection of Catherine the Great, in this case two stables scenes of Philips Wouwerman.
Russians love the memories of the palace. The estimate also is imperial: £ 1.2 million.
POST SALE COMMENT
The estimate was literally exploded, which is rare at such a price level. This confirms the exceptional nature of this pair of vases, sold £ 2.6 million including premium.