from George I to George III
Chronology : 18th century 1750-1759 1760-1769 1770-1779 1790-1799 1800-1809 1810-1819
1755-1760 By Thomas Chippendale himself, and by Robert Adam
2008 SOLD 2.7 M£ including premium
Interior architect and decorator, specialist of cabinet furnitures in the style named English Rococo or Neoclassical, Chippendale had also the idea, very innovative for his time, to produce drawings of his works and to publish them as a book that served him as a catalogue (1754).
On June 18 in London, Christie's presents a unique group of English furniture. The sale which includes no more than twelve lots including five by Chippendale will date in the auction history of English furniture.
The most important piece is a cabinet, named the Kenure Cabinet, estimated £ 2.5 million, with a fine shape but also some details well resembling the style you see in the figure above, and which is directly inspired by the vogue of the eighteenth century to China.
A mahogany bookcase by Chippendale is estimated £ 1.5 million.
Thomas Chippendale cooperated also with the Scottish interior designer Robert Adam. Made by Chippendale on a drawing by Adam, a pair of seats is expected at £ 1.5 million.
Much lower in price (250 K £) let us mention a very striking pair of large armchairs designed by Adam and manufactured by James Lawson resembling the benches used by the ancient Romans for feasts.
POST SALE COMMENT
At this height of prices, making estimates should not be easy. Christie's has shown once again its know-how, since the estimates were closely met.
Only the pair of Chippendale armchairs after Adam is a little beyond what was expected: £ 2.3 million fees included.
The cabinet was sold £ 2.7 million, the bookcase £ 2.05 million, and the armchairs of antique inspiration K £ 265. (all results include fees).
Find the real price range when you read the estimates in a catalogue is a sign of competence that we would like seeing in some other auction houses, especially in continental Europe.
1762 Conversation with Garrick
2011 SOLD 6.8 M£ including premium
In 1754, Garrick bought a luxurious villa on the banks of the Thames in Hampton. He had built by Robert Adam a temple to Shakespeare in neo-Greek style. This building is now a museum dedicated to Garrick.
At that time in England, the fashion in painting is the conversation piece. Influenced by the Dutch genre scenes, this style shows the sponsor of the painting surrounded by family and friends. The faces are clearly identifiable, and attitudes are active and friendly.
Garrick was introduced to all the great English painters of his time. Yet in 1762, he entrusted to a young German artist recently arrived in England the task of executing a pair of conversation pieces in Hampton. After this first success, Johann Zoffany became the best painter in this theme.
This pair of oils on canvas, 100 x 125 cm each, is estimated £ 6M, for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 7.
One of them, showing the afternoon tea on the lawn along the river, is illustrated in the press release shared by AuctionPublicity. The other, showing Mr. and Mrs. Garrick in front of Shakespeare temple, is illustrated in the Wikipedia.
POST SALE COMMENT
This lot apparently atypical was in fact quite representative of the art of its time. The sale could be considered difficult, but it is successful: £ 6.8 million including premium.
1765 Portrait of a Champion by Stubbs
2011 SOLD 22.4 M£ including premium
Made around 1765, the oil on canvas for sale by Christie's in London on July 5 is certainly more outstanding. It is estimated £ 20M. This is the portrait of a horse named Gimcrack, who was winning most of the races where he was engaged.
This broad composition, 102 x 196 cm, simple and effective, is divided into two parts. On the left, Gimcrack shows his beautiful profile, surrounded by a coach, a stable boy and a jockey.
A race is held on the horizon, on the right. A horse is far ahead of his three followers. He is also Gimcrack, of course. He is therefore shown twice on that image that had everything to flatter the sponsor of the work, Lord Bolingbroke, owner of the champion.
Stubbs is very accurate in anatomical detail, but still shows horses galloping with their four legs flying above the ground. This feature, which can be excused one century before the studies of Muybridge, applies here only in the background and provides this work with an undeniable poetic dimension.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sold £ 22.4 million including premium, Gimcrack has once again won his race.
1767 Horses for English Lords
2010 SOLD 10.1 M£ including premium
In 1767 the artist creates the best of his work with the depiction of groups of mares and foals. A large oil on canvas, 100 x 187 cm, is one of his masterpieces. The animals are elegant and finely detailed, far more real than those of De Dreux or Herring in the following century. The image, slightly truncated, is visible in the press release shared by Artdaily.
The painting was kept by the same family of Lords since the origin and had been shown to the public in 2005 in the exhibition Stubbs and the Horse at the National Gallery.
It is now for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 8. For 30 years, no similar lot had been offered at auction, and Sotheby's expects a special price: £ 10M.
POST SALE COMMENT
It was bold to present this painting at such a price level. The challenge is won: £ 10.1 million including premium. Congratulations to Sotheby's.
1769 The School of Derby
2017 SOLD for £ 7.3M including premium
Joseph Wright is known with his pseudonym Wright of Derby. He lives in that town of the East Midlands but knows Darwin very well. This young artist enthusiastic of the new Enlightenment paints scenes of scientific experiments in a chiaroscuro style.
At the same time English artists gather in more or less formal clubs to better sell their art through exhibitions. Wright of Derby is a member of the Society of Artists of Great Britain. Keen to preserve his freedom of style and theme, he refuses to join the secessionists who create the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768.
On December 6 in London, Sotheby's sells An Academy by Lamplight, oil on canvas 127 x 102 cm painted in 1769 by Wright of Derby, lot 11 estimated £ 2.5M.
A group of boys is busy drawing the image of an antique marble placed above them on a piece of furniture or a pedestal. Depending on their age they are more or less captivated by this figure of the famous Borghese Nymph, in a freedom of action that they would definitely not have under the dogmatic teaching of the friends of Reynolds.
This night scene is illuminated by the warm light of a candle out of the field that gives to the marble a hue of flesh. The life size statue takes part in the atmosphere and the fascination that it exerts on one of the oldest boys demonstrates the link between art and life.
Please watch the animation shared by Sotheby's.
1770 Commode attributed to Thomas Chippendale
2010 SOLD for £ 3.8M including premium by Sotheby's
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
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:
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 :
1793 English Presentation Clock to the Qianlong Emperor
2008 SOLD for HK$ 36M including premium by Christie's
1795 Large Color Print by William Blake
2004 SOLD for $ 3.9M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
Of modest origin, son of a hosier, he follows an original path, wishing the union of all religions, in hostile reaction against the philosophers of Reason. To prepare his illuminated books, he develops in 1788 a technique of relief etching.
In 1795 Blake is tempted by using engraving techniques for images in larger format. He takes up twelve themes from his previous works, inspired by the Bible, Shakespeare and Milton, without forgetting the famous figures of Newton and Nebuchadnezzar. This set is known as the Large Color Prints. He reworked the finishing of several prints around 1805.
For this series he is preparing his drawings on gessoed cardboard, with perhaps one exception on copper. Each matrix can be used two to four times. The technique was not documented in period, but these images should not be assimilated to monotypes. The watercoloring is often very different between works from the same matrix.
The total surviving production for the 12 themes is 30 copies, three of which are in private hands. On May 5, 2004, Sotheby's sold a Large color print for $ 3.9M including premium, lot 5. Its theme of Good and Evil Angels struggling for possession of a child is inspired from Swedenborg. This image 44 x 58 cm is vividly colored.
1808 Pope's Villa at Twickenham by Turner
2008 SOLD for £ 5.4M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
Turner wants to express the deep truth of nature. He explores the Thames and buys a piece of land at Twickenham in 1807. He builds there from 1812 his personal lodge according to his own taste.
A century earlier, Twickenham was the home of wealthy Londoners who wanted to escape the city. In 1719 the poet Alexander Pope had built an opulent three-story house on the banks of the Thames, and his garden was designed to shelter the Muses.
Baroness Howe of Langar bought this estate in 1807. The memory of Pope was still attracting many visitors. To protect her peace of living, she has the villa destroyed. Of course Turner is deeply frustrated and irritated by this decision which diminishes the touristic attraction of this village which he had just chosen for himself.
The view of the Pope villa by Turner is an oil on canvas 92 x 120 cm painted in 1808. Already aiming to match the brightness of the watercolors, he had coated the canvas with a white primer.
The scene is pastoral, with small quiet figures, a young couple of shepherds, a few sheep, in the beautiful light of an autumn evening. Beyond the river, the building is the symbol of the ephemeral character of human achievements : it has already lost its roof and the windows are gaping.
He exhibited it in his gallery in London, which he has been using since 1804 to attract customers and art critics. The success of this work which expresses a poetic sensitivity with a high quality of execution is considerable. At 33, he is the best landscape painter of his time.
This painting was sold for £ 5.4M including premium by Sotheby's on July 9, 2008. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1816 Turner inspired by the Greeks
2009 SOLD 13 M$ including premium
We come again at Sotheby's, this time in New York to find a large oil on canvas by the artist, 117 x 178 cm, for sale on January 29.
It is a temple of Jupiter Panellenius (ie friend of the Greeks). This painting is later (1816), but the composition is similar to that of 1808: an animated green leads to a remote monument, flooded with sunlight, which is the strong point of the image. The characters of the English villa were walkers. Those of the temple, dressed according to antique fashion, play a round dance.
Turner made only three paintings inspired by Greece. We must see the influence of the romantic come back to the antique (that at that time influenced also the cloth fashion) and not a political mood, as the movements that would lead to the independence of Greece were just beginning in 1816.
Considering its great size, this Turner painting is probably one of the most important to be still in private hands. It expects $ 12 million.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sotheby's knows the market for Turner. The result is in line with forecasts: $ 13 million including premium.