Madonna and Child
Chronology : 14th century 15th century 1460-1479 1480-1499 16th century 1540-1569 1730-1739
1250-1280 The Enthroned Virgin and Child
2011 SOLD 6.3 M€ including premium
Carefully carved around 1250 to 1280, it is an exquisite work, 38 cm high. Seated on a throne and crowned, the mother holds the child on her lap, and an apple in her right hand. The young child with an abundant curly hair has a realistic face, which is a rare feature in medieval art. The ivory has acquired a nice patina. Here is the link to the catalog.
This work has much in common with the Virgin and Child from the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, dating from the reign of Louis IX (St. Louis) and now in the Louvre. Traditionally, the group for sale originated in a Provençal monastery. The link between Paris and the Mediterranea was strong in that reign as Queen Marguerite was the daughter of the comte de Provence.
The ancient pieces often have a history. The child's head, which had belonged to a separate collection, was adjusted again on the group in 1883.
POST SALE COMMENT
The price of real masterpieces can hardly be anticipated. This ivory statuette was sold € 6.3 million including premium.
1350 Gothic Realism
2019 SOLD for € 6.2M including premium
In the West the Hundred Years War breaks out in 1337. This international conflict aggravated by the risk of schism between Avignon and Rome is a very good opportunity for Charles IV to make Prague one of the most important cities in Europe, seat of an archdiocese from 1344.
Charles first rebuilds the cathedral. In the year 1348 altogether, he creates the first Germanic university in Prague, launches a major urban plan to modernize his capital and has the imperial castle of Karlstein built for his personal use.
This activity attracts artists from all over Europe. Most remained anonymous, with the exception of Master Theodoric who is the appointed painter of Charles IV throughout his reign. An important group of paintings made by this master for the Karlstein chapel has been preserved.
The paintings on wood from the reign of Charles IV are often made in very small formats, with an obvious search for humanism in the princely portraits and in the spontaneity of the attitudes. The minutia of the line shows that these painters were also illuminators.
An egg tempera 22 x 20 cm on wood 14 mm thick has just surfaced. This enthroned Madonna and Child is in the style of Bohemia, small and precious. The Child is dressed in a light tunic. His actions are innocent. The fingers of one hand grip his foot while the other hand gently holds the thumb of the mother. Their gazes communicate.
This scene is currently surrounded by a black paint dotted with paper stars, probably made in the nineteenth century. An X-ray inspection revealed that the original design was a vast architectural pattern in line with the ostentatious aims of Charles IV's art.
The experts recognized a similarity in the refinement of this painting with the restricted corpus of an anonymous artist designated as the Master of Vissy Brod, active in Bohemia around 1350.
It is estimated € 400K for sale by Cortot in Dijon on November 30, lot 52. Please watch the video shared by Artcento.
early 1470s Unveiling a Renaissance Virgin and Child
2017 SOLD for $ 9M including premium
The great collector Horace Walpole had acquired it for 80 guineas in 1752 in an auction, as a scene of the marriage of Henry VII with Elizabeth of York in 1486. A difference in technique between the characters and the architectural elements suggests that the composition is hybrid but Walpole is very proud to possess this painting considered as typically Tudor. The provenance is known : it had belonged to William Sykes half a century earlier.
It is exhibited in 1890. An acute observer tells in the Gazette des Beaux Arts that he perceives a classic Virgin and Child through the central part which is a church interior without figures.
The work was acquired in 1977 by the art dealer Edward Speelman. Convinced that only the architectural elements and three of the four saints were contemporaries of the Flemish Renaissance, he entrusted the restoration to the specialist David Bull of the Norton Simon Museum.
In a patient work that spans almost ten years, Bull removes with his knife the 18th century paintings, certainly made by or for Sykes who had a reputation as a faker and knew how to transform works when it pleased his clients. Bull's work brings to light a superb drawing of the Virgin and Child in the central part, supersedes Elizabeth of York with an ill-preserved drawing of St John the Baptist and restitutes to the false Tudor the attributes of St. Louis.
The expertise continued. Radiographic inspection and infrared reflectography demonstrate that the quality of the under-drawing is homogeneous throughout the surface. All the composite elements resulting from the painstaking work of Bull come from a Renaissance work. The beauty of drawing, painting and colors indicates that this panel is the autograph work of a master.
The comparison of expressive details, such as the face of the Virgin or the study of feet, with works indisputably attributed to Hugo van der Goes is convincing and a dating in the early 1470s is consistent with the dendrochronology of the panel. Hugo was a perfectionist until he fell into madness. He worked in Ghent where he admired the polyptych painted half a century earlier by the van Eyck brothers for the altar of St. Bavon's cathedral.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's :
Madonna of the Magnificat by BOTTICELLI
Tondi were a fashion of the time for a private devotion and contemplation above eye level. Botticelli managed to have the lines modified to match a perfect view in that position.
The Madonna and Child are surrounded by five angels, two of them holding a crown over Mary's head. The Child raises his head to look at the crown and puts his hand on an illuminated book. The text of the book is identified as two canticles from the Gospel of Luke.
The Madonna holds a quill to write the left page which is the opening of the Magnificat also referred as the Song of Mary. The left hands of Mother and Child join to hold a pomegranate, the heart shaped symbol of the Passion. That co-ordinated movement of the two hands of the two leading characters is beautiful.
later 1480s Replica
2022 SOLD for $ 48M by Christie's
This tempera, oil and gold on a 63 cm tondo panel is largely autograph as evidenced by underdrawings and pentimenti revealed by infrared and x-ray inspection. The style of the lines argues for a date in the later 1480s.
The composition is simplified to match with the smaller format. The two angels and the crown have been removed, making more mystical the raised gaze of the Child. The three remaining angels are now winged.
A selection of works from the collection of the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen—including a work by Cézanne with an estimate in excess of $120m—are on show at @ChristiesInc London this weekend prior to their sale in New York next month. https://t.co/jcI3Jaz2n9— The Art Newspaper (@TheArtNewspaper) October 15, 2022
1493-1495 The Florentine Grace of Sandro Botticelli
2013 SOLD 10.5 M$ including premium
Botticelli's life is poorly documented, but his passion for his city, Florence, is the thread.
On January 30 in New York, Christie's sells a Madonna and Child with the young St John. This tempera on panel is estimated $ 5M. Waiting for the catalog, here is the link to the articleshared by Artdaily when this painting was offered for sale at Maastricht in 2010. Of small size, 48 x 38 cm, it was designed for private devotion.
Botticelli's art is not narrative. The scene is by evidence located in Florence, and is not a Biblical story. The presence of John is only meaning that he is the patron saint of Florence. The three characters are graceful and communicate together with ardor. The faces are beautiful.
This work is dated around 1493-1495, the period of transition between the principate of Lorenzo de' Medici and the theocracy of Savonarola. The legend that he had himself brought his secular works in the Bonfire of the Vanities is not confirmed by Vasari, but it seems certain that his career as an artist became difficult afterwards.
POST SALE COMMENT
This small painting typical of the emotional art of Botticelli was sold $ 10.5 million including premium.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
mid 1490s Virgin and Child at the Time of Savonarola
2013 SOLD 13 M$ including premium
The likely date proposed by the auction house, the mid-1490s, is the era of the iconoclastic dictatorship of Savonarola, the preacher of repentance.
The relationship between art and Christianity were already an intense concern in Florence at the end of the glorious principate of Lorenzo de' Medici. The dying Lorenzo had doubts about the merits of his work, and chose (but unsuccessfully) Savonarola as his last confessor.
Savonarola, whose memory of his bonfires horrifies the art lovers of today, was chasing the vanities. Botticelli's mythological works have sunk therein. But he did not reject art when it glorified the Christian virtues.
Baccio della Porta, born in 1472, is a young artist whose skills are already recognized. Becoming an avid follower of Savonarola, he directs his art in accordance with the theocratic vision of his guru of whom he will also execute a very famous portrait.
It was only in 1500, when Baccio became the Dominican friar Fra Bartolomeo (or Fra Bartolommeo), that he will abandon his activity as an artist for a long period, before brilliantly resuming his brushes at the time of Raphael.
The tondo for sale is a very charming example of Christian art. The naked child rises to the mother's neck for a kiss. Empathy is intense between mother and child. The tondo format, as circular as a halo, contributes to the perfection of this nicely composed image.
POST SALE COMMENT
Deserved result for this very attractive painting by Fra Bartolommeo: $ 13M including premium.
Size of the tondo : 65 cm diameter.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1495-1505 Adoration of the Magi by Mantegna
1985 SOLD for £ 8M (worth $ 10.5M at that time) including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2021
On April 18, 1985, Christie's sold for £ 8M worth at the time $ 10.5M, including premium, a similarly composed Adoration of the Magi. This distemper on linen 49 x 66 cm is a technique used by the artist at the end of his career and can be dated 1495-1505.
The three kings bring gifts to the Child, whom his mother lifts in her arms so that he can see better. Joseph assists. The three saints each have a halo made of a thin golden circle in the Byzantine style. The kings are lavishly dressed, possibly under Venetian influence. The gifts are cosmopolitan : a Chinese porcelain cup filled with gold, a Turkish censer, a covered agate cup.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1560 Quiet Mysticism of Titian
2011 SOLD 16.9 M$ including premium
At the end of his life, his creativity is much alive, but he has nothing more to prove to increase his fame. Painter of sensuality and characters, he became the painter of the passions.
Circa 1560, he painted A Sacra Conversazione, also known as the Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine. We really catch the intelligence being transferred between the Child Jesus, held by his mother, and Catherine of Alexandria. The Child is active and friendly, Catherine is serious and focused, the Madonna encourages the movement of Jesus. St Luke, standing, is carefully watching.
This large painting on canvas, 128 x 170 cm, is estimated $ 15M, for sale at Sotheby's in New York on January 27. It is illustrated on the press release shared by Artdaily.
There is no doubt about the importance of this work. Already in the 1620s, it had the honor to draw the attention of Van Dyck, who made a sketch of it in a notebook now preserved at the British Museum.
POST SALE COMMENT
As expected, this beautiful Titian dominated the week of ancient art sales in New York. Sold $ 16.9 million including premium, it does not, however, exceed its estimate.
I invite you to play the video shared on the web by Sotheby's. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1611-1614 The Family Circle
2020 SOLD for $ 7.1M including premium
His family life also changes. The death of his mother had been the pretext for his return. He marries in 1609 and is now surrounded by newborns : his daughter Clara Serena born in 1611 as well as the two children of his older brother Philip, Clara born in 1610 and Philip born in 1611. The death of the brother in 1611 brings his two babies closer to the artist's family circle.
The theme of the meeting of the Holy Family with St John the Baptist and his mother appears in his work at that time. Imagined in a Franciscan homily, this group is frequent in Italian iconography and was notably painted by Raphael around 1518.
The action is not unique : the artist expresses with vivacity his family surrounding, symbol of the future. The two babies are exuberant when they play with the dove while the lamb has a soothing effect.
On January 29 in New York, Sotheby's sells a Madonna and Child with St Elizabeth, St John and the lamb, oil on panel 122 x 96 cm. This version is probably the first in this model, and a date between 1611 and 1614 is confirmed by dendrochronology. The children are undoubtedly pictured at their real age on the date of creation of the work.
This painting is estimated $ 6M, lot 19. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
The absence of St Joseph allows an original and dynamic composition where the four heads form a circle. The Infant Jesus looks at his mother with an expression of intense admiration. In a slightly larger replica, the Mother's clothing modestly hides the tip of her breast. The engraving executed in the 1620s at the artist's request for protecting his copyright mingles the two versions.
1735 The Venetian Rosary
2020 SOLD for $ 17.3M including premium
On January 29 in New York, Sotheby's sells a monumental altarpiece painted by Tiepolo in 1735, oil on canvas 246 x 156 cm, lot 61. The article published on December 4 by the auction house announces an estimate in excess of $ 15M.
The theme is a Madonna of the Rosary with Angels. The simple and effective composition, unusual for the artist, and the liveliness of the colors remind Titian, and the attitude is mannerist.
The artist wanted this Madonna to appear with the utmost majesty. She is standing on a stone pedestal, for being worshiped like a statue. Her youth and elegance are enhanced by a hip position. The red cloak is a symbol of royalty.
The fully unfolded rosary is hanging from her outstretched hand like an offering for an out-of-field user. This artefact brings a modernism to the image : its use in Marian prayer was recommended by Pope Benedict XIII, a former Dominican who died in 1730.
The artist has constructed an interesting symmetry between the rosary held by the Mother and the cross held by the Child. The gaze of the Mother is introverted, while that of the Child is directed towards the hand holding the rosary.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's. The image is shared by Wikimedia.