1862 The Darings of Courbet
2015 SOLD for $ 15.3M including premium
He is provocative. Taking the format of an epic painting on a large size, 315 x 668 cm, L'Enterrement à Ornans makes a scandal in 1850. Proudhon is delighted.
The second empire, decreed in 1852, marks the return in France of a prudish censorship that sends its policemen against a pornography now facilitated by photography. For the artists opponent to the regime of Napoléon III, the nude becomes a challenge.
The deliberate ugliness enters the theme of the nude in 1853 with Les Baigneuses by Courbet. Even Ingres, yet close to the government, is interested in this new approach. His Bain Turc, on which he worked for ten years, is an unprecedented erotic accumulation that takes Orientalism as an excuse to avoid reprisals.
On November 9 in New York, Christie's sells a Femme nue couchée, oil on canvas 75 x 97 cm painted by Courbet in 1862, lot 10A estimated $ 15M.
The woman viewed in full length is reclining on a bed, her head turned in a rest position, looking like some replica of the Venus of Urbino but without the discreet hand. Her offering attitude and the half undone stocking reveal that a sexual activity was just completed. The provocation of the picture is increased by a surrounding in romanticist style with a curtain and a landscape.
Such women by Courbet represent a milestone in modern French painting. On one hand, new private customers invite Courbet to even more daring pictures. On the other hand, Manet does not hesitate to confront the scandal with Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe and Olympia.
1862 Portrait of the Artist as an Old Tiger
2018 SOLD for $ 9.9M including premium
The artist appreciates that passion is not a human exclusivity and he loves the powerful savagery of tigers and lions. A great admirer of Rubens, he is inspired by the whirlwind of his hunting scenes.
An artist needs real models, although Dürer's rhinoceros is a wonderful exception. Géricault is passionate about horses and Raden Saleh remembers big game hunting. For his tigers and lions, Delacroix looks at his pet cat and at stuffed animals in the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle. Fortunately the menagerie of the Jardin des Plantes hosts a tiger from 1847.
In 1862 the artist feels old and tired. The tiger remained his emblem and his friends flatter him by comparing his behavior with the anthropocentric emotions attributed to this animal. Delacroix imagines confrontations with reptiles. Facing the threat of the snake, the big cat no longer knows how he can still win.
On May 8 in New York, Christie's sells Tigre jouant avec une tortue, oil on canvas 45 x 62 cm painted in 1862, lot 3 estimated $ 5M.
As ever the animal behavior is fanciful. A fully grown tiger no longer plays because game is used by cubs to train in hunting. This one with a paw on the tortoise is stopping as if he waited some advice. The tortoise disturbed and threatened by the predator omitted to close its shell.
François de Ricqlès, President of Christie’s France, explains how this exceptional Romantic work that ‘marks the beginning of modernity’ also speaks to the Rockefeller family’s long and mutually admiring relationship with France. Check it out here: https://t.co/8QpCJrNHVH pic.twitter.com/alUUMid0bs— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) March 25, 2018
1864 The Quest for the Golden Age
2016 SOLD for £ 3.3M including premium
His career is glorious but his life is controversial. This keen traveler is clearly not interested in the English culture. He chooses his themes from mythology to prevent and possibly even push away the religion. He never communicates on his personal life and does not marry but he knows how to communicate enthusiasm in his teaching.
For thirty years from 1864 Leighton built a fantastic house to shelter his collections which will be dispersed by Christie's in 1896 through nine consecutive days of sales. Within this group his collection of Iznik ceramics was exceptional.
Leighton believes that art should bring a depth of thought rather than emotion or virtuosity. His colors are bright but his line is too sharp and the next century will forget him. He is the friend of the pre-Raphaelites who come in his salon to chat and drink brandy.
Leighton admires Cimabue, Giorgione and Titian. In 1864 he sought for the Golden Age in the Italian past which he links with the arts. To stand him aside from the pre-Raphaelites, his trend is called Aestheticism. The Painter's Honeymoon shows a newlywed couple in Venetian cloth. The young woman is leaning to better follow the movement of the artist's hand.
The same couple comes back in Golden Hours. The woman is seen from behind. Elbows on the piano, she observes the man who is playing. As in the Honeymoon, the hand has the essential role of creating or transmitting art that itself transcends time. Golden Hours, oil on canvas 80 x 125 cm, is estimated £ 3M for sale by Christie's in London on June 30, lot 4.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's.
1864 Lincoln's Fatal Blow to Slavery
2010 SOLD 3.8 M$ including premium
At the promised date, January 1, 1863, Lincoln proclaimed an executive order abolishing slavery in the ten states on which he had no control.
This strategy is of paramount political skill. It confirms that in the mind of Lincoln the end of slavery is the main issue of the American Civil War. Without alienating the states loyal to the Union, it gave such a boost to the slaves that their emancipation had no more obstacles, entering into the constitution through the Thirteenth Amendment on December 18, 1865.
One hundred years later, the Kennedy brothers are considering new advances for civil rights. The murder of the President does not slow down the ardor of his brother. In 1964, Robert Kennedy bought at auction at Parke-Bernet a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln.
This document is again for sale on December 10 in New York by Sotheby's (Parke-Bernet's successor). It is estimated $ 1M, and illustrated in the press release shared by Paul Fraser Collectibles.
POST SALE COMMENT
The estimate of this prestigious lot was undervalued. It was sold for $ 3.8 million including premium.
This document printed and signed in 1864 is bearing the autograph signatures of Abraham Lincoln and of Secretary of State William Seward.
I invite you to play the video shared on YouTube by Sotheby's :
1864 Answer by Lincoln to the Children's Petition
2008 SOLD for $ 3.4M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
The President received a great deal of mail which was carefully handled by his secretaries. Amidst thousands of requests for favors, he was moved by a letter forwarded to him in early April 1864 by Charles Sumner, senator from Massachusetts, more radical than him for an immediate emancipation.
The document is a children's petition prepared and annotated by Mrs Mann, a widow who had founded a school in Concord MA. 195 boys and girls under 18 wrote their names under a simple and short text : "Children's Petition to the President asking him to free all the little slave children in this country".
The President prepares an autograph draft, which is kept at the Library of Congress. He replies to Mrs Mann : "Please tell these little people I am very glad their young hearts are so full of just and generous sympathy, and that, while I have not the power to grant all they ask, I trust they will remember that God has, and that, as it seems, He wills to do it ".
This answer is very important to the President, who himself copies his draft onto an 8 x 5 inch letterhead page of the Executive Mansion in Washington. Dated April 5, 1864, the letter is addressed to Mrs Mann to whom it is transmitted through the good care of the Senator. It was sold for $ 3.4M including premium by Sotheby's on April 3, 2008, lot 85.
On April 20, Mrs Mann thanks the President for his "sweet words to the children" for whom she was going to have facsimiles prepared, replacing her name as a precaution with the identification of the place of origin, Concord MA. She insists in her abolitionist demand by courteously calling out to the President : "You who can hasten it must be the happiest of men, for in saving the colored man you will feel that you are doing equal service to the white man".
1864 The Two Victories of Abraham Lincoln
2008 SOLD 3.4 M$ including premium
Now, in a press release, Christie's reminds with suitable details the events of this decisive year. Until June, Lincoln, the outgoing president, was considered a loser. The popular opinion was in favor of McClellan calling to enter into negotiations to end the civil war.
In August the fall of Atlanta happened, and supporters of Lincoln saw that a military victory was possible. On November 8, Lincoln won the election, one of the most important in the history of his country: his anti-slavery ideas would now be able to overcome. The end of the war came also very soon afterwards.
On 10 November 1864, at the White House, the reelected president made an important speech to celebrate his political victory. The paper he wrote with his hand for reading it on that day will be sold by Christie's in New York on 12 February 2009. Those four pages in excellent condition were owned by the heirs of Lincoln before going into a library that sells them now.
In a nice marketing approach that we would like to see more often from auction houses (big and small), Christie's organizes this sale the very day of the 200 th anniversary of Lincoln, who was born on 12 February 1809. This lot is expected to realize more than $ 3 million.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sold for $ 3.4 million charge included, the manuscript of an important speech has made the same price as the emotional letter sold last year. I would hope it sells more, but perhaps is it just the regular price for an important autograph of Lincoln.
This is of course one of the most important results at the beginning of this year.
1865-1870 A Maharajah converts to Islam
2009 SOLD 5.5 M$ including premium
He commissioned the creation of a carpet in pearls and gems, whose beauty can be worthy of the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad at Medina. This work unique in its kind was made, but the Maharaja died in 1870 before the gift was made. The carpet was retained by the family, and remained there for over a hundred years.
It looks in its patterns like a textile carpet centered with three rosettes, and otherwise based on the millefleurs motif fashioned in India in the previous century. It consists of two millions of natural pearls, hundreds of gems of all kinds and a countless colored glass beads.
Sotheby's, which sells it in Doha on March 19, does not publish the estimate but only the starting bid: 5 MUS$. For the moment it is the most extraordinary artwork that has been announced for auction this year.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sensing the difficulties in the market for Islamic art, Sotheby's had lowered its starting bid at $ 4.5 million. They have done well. The carpet of pearls was sold at $ 4.8 million hammer, $ 5.5 million including fees.
1867 Ideal Women by Rossetti
2013 SOLD 4.6 M£ including premium
His art combining painting, poetry, music and the expression of feelings became highly original, anticipating Klimt. He isolated himself from other artists but his life remained unconventional and romantic. His act of burying his unpublished poems in his wife's grave is spectacular but attests to his difficult relationship with the world.
On December 4 in London, Sotheby's sells A Christmas Carol, oil on panel 46 x 38 cm painted by Rossetti in 1867, estimated £ 4M.
The young woman in highly colored exotic dress plays a two-stringed mandolin. She is completely absorbed by this activity. The Christian inspiration evoked by the title is confirmed by an image of the Holy Family on the wall.
The artist's work was a meticulous quest for perfection. Two other versions are known with the same composition. A study in pencil is in the British Museum, and a red and white chalk drawing in same size as the oil was sold for £ 360K including premium at Christie's on November 21, 2007.
The worsening mental problems of Rossetti did not diminish his artistic creativity. A beautiful Proserpine made with colored chalks, 120 x 56 cm, dated 1880, was sold for £ 3.3 million including premium by Sotheby's on November 19, 2013.
POST SALE COMMENT
This charming painting by Rossetti won £ 4.6 million including premium.
I invite you to play the video in which Sotheby's introduces A Christmas Carol as one of three outstanding paintings from the Leverhulme collection :
1867 WH Hunt, Pre-Raphaelite and Romantic
2014 SOLD 2.9 M£ including premium
In 1866, Hunt was working on Isabella, the poignant poem by Keats combining youth, love and death, directly related to a tale by the greatest medieval storyteller, Boccaccio.
Tragedy strikes also the artist in his personal life : Fanny Hunt dies two months after the birth of their child. He loved his wife and was deeply shocked. Isabella, his masterpiece, is a post-mortem tribute to Fanny.
As in the poem, the hallucinated young women has forgotten any thing from actual life. She comes in sleepwear caressing the pot of basil which contains the head of her murdered lover. The basil was used in the Middle Ages to accompany the dead.
The life size oil on canvas 187 x 116 cm completed in 1868 is kept at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne.
Hunt also painted a small version 61 x 39 cm dated 1867, now deaccessioned by the Delaware Art Museum to be sold by Christie's in London on June 17. It is estimated £ 5M.
POST SALE COMMENT
The Pre-Raphaelite art is often difficult to sell. Isabella was sold for £ 2.9 million including premium, far below the estimate.
1868 Scandal amidst the Roses
2014 SOLD for £ 2.9M including premium
In 1868, he painted Venus Verticordia, a Latin term which means that the goddess plays the role of protector of female chastity. This painting is the best nude by Rossetti and a masterpiece of erotic symbolism.
The warrior woman is authoritative. She firmly holds two weapons. Her apple threw such a discord among men that it generated the Trojan War, yet the fruit is also peacefully or surreptitiously feeding the butterfly. Cupid's arrow is just another source of havoc. She holds it ambiguously as if it were Lucretia's dagger.
Apple leads to Eve, and it is no coincidence that the thick red hair of Rossetti's Venus is surrounded by a halo. In the previous year, his Christmas carol had already approached the theme of the position of the woman in the Christian civilization.
Below the nude breast, the body of Venus is hidden by an abundant rose bush, another voluptuous symbol. John Ruskin went into a rage when he saw the flowers on this painting.
He was probably right not to consider it only as a pre-Raphaelite symbol. Since his marriage failed by lack of consummation in 1846, his approach to women was a subject of ridicule. A recent attempt to restart his life had also just failed, with a very young woman named Rose.
The Venus of Rossetti fortunately pleased other amateurs and the artist made some replicas. A watercolor 67 x 59 cm, also dated 1868, is estimated £ 1M for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 10, lot 8.