Music and Dance in Old Painting
Chronology : 1620-1629 1640-1649 1660-1679 1710-1719 1810-1819
1566 The Wedding Dance by Bruegel
Detroit Institute of Arts
Pieter Bruegel chose the theme of peasant life. Their occupations are indeed symbols more or less easy to decode of the struggle between vices and virtues.
The difficulty in deciphering his message, which is explained by the political context, allows the modern viewer to focus his admiration on the anecdote. Bruegel's characters enchant us by their picturesque features and by the exceptional reference to the lifestyle of another time.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1616 Village Feast with the Artist
2008 SOLD 3.5 M£ including premium
Jan Brueghel is one of the very best Flemish painters and his themes are of the greatest variety. He imagined very early in his career the scenery and characters in Paradise. He had the good idea to transpose this theme to the peasant life, freed in his art from the moralizing intentions of his father Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
His landscapes are probably imaginary. They have very balanced compositions built around the turning of a road or a river or even both. The technique of oil on copper enables pure and warm colors.
One of his scenes of a feast near the village certainly expresses a personal emotion of the artist. This 26 x 38 cm painting dated 1616 was sold for £ 3.5M including premium by Sotheby's on July 9, 2008. It is estimated £ 5.5M for sale by Christie's in London on July 6, lot 42. I described it as follows in 2008 :
The landscape at the turn of a river is pleasant with a varied animation. Couples of peasants are dancing in the middle of the road between two rows of well-aligned spectators. A merchant sells his fish and two bourgeois are discussing. The catalog tells us that one of the bourgeois is a very rare self-portrait of the artist, confirming the importance that this happy theme had for him.
The distant animation is also intense. Nice boats are sailing on the river. In the upper left the village is populated by characters with horses and carriages. In the foreground two dogs are gently waiting.
De l’importance des détails dans les scènes de la vie rurale de #Brueghel l’Ancien https://t.co/70trEgFBbl pic.twitter.com/WeDZxkEjf8— Christie's Paris (@christiesparis) June 29, 2017
1624 Peasant Music at the time of ter Brugghen
2009 SOLD 10 M$ including premium
The cover of the catalog, however, is entrusted to a master who is not among the best known to the public: Hendrick ter Brugghen.
His oil on canvas 101 x 83 cm, signed and dated 1624, shows a bagpipe player. The auction house said that it was once the pendant of a lute player. Opening the Wikipedia, the artist offers us a flute player. The common characteristics between them is that they show popular instruments far from the luxurious subjects of many other artists.
Each of these musicians is represented alone with his instrument, against a neutral background. The simple beret, the badly cut beard and the naked shoulder of the bagpiper describe a musician of the peasant class. The effects of shadows and light give him presence and even psychology.
Indeed ter Brugghen, who worked in Utrecht, may have known Caravaggio on a trip to Rome and was one of his first followers. The ancient paintings of Caravagesque style are rare in the market, and prices are always high. It is estimated $ 4 million.
POST SALE COMMENT
It was the masterpiece of this great sale. It sold $ 10 million including premium, well above its high estimate.
It was worth the honors of the cover of the catalog.
1624 A Merry Group by Gerrit van Honthorst
2014 SOLD for $ 7.6M by Sotheby's
Back in Holland, they remembered the exuberant musical atmosphere, the erotic proximity of performers with visitors, the brightly colored clothes and the wide open necklines.
On June 5, 2013, Christie's sold for $ 3.4 million including premium an oil on canvas 78 x 95 cm painted by Gerrit in 1624. A couple sings enthusiastically while reading their text under candlelight.
An oil on canvas 99 x 139 cm painted around the same year by the same artist,was sold for $ 7.6M from a lower estimate of $ 2M by Sotheby's in New York on January 30, 2014, lot 34.
The theme is musical : the man plays the violin and the woman is playing the lute, separated from the public by a balustrade. The atmosphere of this night club observed four centuries ago is entertaining and friendly.
The subtlety of the lighting is post-Caravaggian. In full light, the woman's face expresses a radiant merriness with an intensity rarely seen in a painting. The violinist, lesser lit, sings with passion while looking at the other side. A young drinker completes the group, much less visible in the shadow, or in the smoke.
1637 Enjoyment of Senses by Ribera
2019 SOLD for £ 5.7M including premium
In 1616 Ribera, aged 25, arrives in Naples which is then a Spanish possession. He will never return to his country but wishes to state his origin by signing his works Jusepe de Ribera español. He is also nicknamed Lo Spagnoletto.
He paints other Senses in 1637 with allegories completely different from his earlier series. Hearing is a girl who plays the tambourine with an expression of deep happiness, personifying the pleasure of the senses. This oil on canvas 60 x 46 cm is estimated £ 5M for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 3, lot 24.
This figure was painted by Ribera at the end of his tenebrist phase, with a black background in the style of his friend Velazquez. In the series of popular types, she thus appears in the continuity of his picturesque bearded milking woman (Mujer barbuda) painted in 1631.
Clearly a pendant of similar size with the Tambourine girl, Taste is a hilarious drunkard. Candidates have been proposed for Smell and Touch, but Sight remains unidentified, without evidence that this series has ever been complete.
#AuctionUpdate On the Beat □: This charming portrait of a girl tapping a tambourine by Jusepe de Ribera makes a noise, singing to the tune of £5,743,000 – a new record for the artist. #SothebysOldMasters pic.twitter.com/R0OuYI9gJH— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) July 3, 2019
1648 Ham Lunch by Teniers
2019 SOLD for £ 4.7M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Born into a family of artists, David Teniers the younger was influenced by Brouwer. He got closer to Jan Brueghel the elder whose daughter he married in 1637. Throughout his career, Teniers was a very prolific artist in various themes of the genre scene animated by many characters.
Jan Brueghel was one of the best painters in oil on copper, which combines the sharpness of the stroke and the beauty of the colors. His son-in-law also adopts this practice by using increasingly large formats which allow a multitude of details to be easily introduced, often with humor.
The Ham Lunch, oil on copper 63 x 85 cm painted by Teniers in 1648, was sold for £ 4.7M including premium by Christie's on July 4, 2019 from a lower estimate of £ 800K, lot 15. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Teniers liked the compositions in several stages. The Ham Lunch displays two rooms in an inn. In the foreground, the old timers are seated to eat a ham. Two men watch while smoking their pipe. In the back room, young people dance in tight groups to the sound of the bagpipes.
The animation and the diversity of attitudes take precedence over the caricatured features of the portraits. For example, one of the young dancers allows herself to be kissed by her partner while another, more shy, does not trust a merry fellow. The artist has nailed his self-portrait above the fireplace.
A 70 x 88 cm oil on copper painted in 1651, showing in Rubens' garden an elegant company which includes the artist and his wife, was sold for £ 1.57M including premium by Sotheby's on December 6, 2017 from a lower estimate of £ 800K. lot 43.
1660 The Music Lesson by van Mieris
2021 SOLD for £ 3.5M by Christie's
#AuctionUpdate The Old Masters Evening Sale has begun! This beautifully preserved painting by Frans van Mieris the Elder achieved £3,502,500, 5x its low estimate: https://t.co/OpHDZ18eoX □⠀ pic.twitter.com/qT4s121Tpx— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) July 8, 2021
mid 1660s Banquet Still Life by de Heem
2021 SOLD for £ 3.14M by Christie's
#AuctionUpdate Jan Davidsz. de Heem's 'A banquet still life' sells for £3,142,500. Preserved in remarkable condition, this painting offers a dazzling display of the artist's technical virtuosity on a grand scale. pic.twitter.com/h7npt8dNwp— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) July 8, 2021
1670 Young Woman seated at the Virginals by Vermeer
2004 SOLD 16.2 M£ including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
It can form a pendant with The Lacemaker. The two works have the same format, one of the smallest used by the artist, and may have been painted on pieces of canvas from the same cloth, too raw to be intended for commercial purpose. It is possible that each of them is the portrait of one of the artist's daughters, Maria and Elizabeth.
Both girls have a bright yellow shawl. That of the Young woman seated at the virginals was not convincing. Analysis has shown that this color was painted in two overlapping layers, probably several years apart, perhaps to repair a degradation. The removal of the upper layer gives this picture the three-dimensional intimacy of a real Vermeer.
The ultramarine blue was the most expensive pigment of its time, made from lapis lazuli. Vermeer appears to be the only artist who has made an intensive use of it, not only for the visible blue in his compositions but also to contribute subliminally to the hue of the background wall.
Present in these two functions in the Young woman seated at the virginals, this blue is also one of the arguments to authenticate the Saint Praxedis painted by Vermeer at the very beginning of his career. The fact that Vermeer never declared an apprentice to the Delft guild undoubtedly facilitates such considerations. Saint Praxedis, oil on canvas 102 x 82 cm, was sold for £ 6.2M including premium by Christie's on July 8, 2014.
Each year brought its fashion changes. The date of 1670 is plausible for both The Lacemaker and the Young woman seated at the virginals, with the curls falling on both sides of the bun.
1718-1719 Christie's discovered a Watteau, what a surprise !
2008 SOLD 12.3 M£ including premium
A little more than one month ago, Christie's had announced in a press release the reappearance of a painting of Watteau presumedly destroyed for two centuries. The press had seized this information, rightly. Let us not forget it, but it is necessary to wait two more months for the sale, which will be done in London on July 8.
Entitled "la Surprise", this painting was known through a copy, and the owner was unaware of being in possession of an original. If as it is probable Christie's manages to sell it, the pockets of this happy British countryman will then have filled from at least 3 M£.
Of small size, it is an outdoor scene, elegant and dynamic, with feverish movement, with images typified according to the so specific technique of Watteau: the player of guitar, the couple of lovers, the puppy.
A masterpiece? Yes. One of the great biddings of the year? Probably not. The painting, whose exact dimensions are not revealed in the official statement, appears to be not larger than a paper sheet.
POST SALE COMMENT
The price obtained is also a surprise: £ 12.3 million charge included.
This painting had been announced well in advance by Christie's as one of the highlights of the season. It had the advantage of never being viewed before on the market and disadvantage of being small: 36x28 cm.
The market has thus confirmed the view of Christie's that this painting is a masterpiece of Watteau, and that Watteau is a major painter in the history of art. There is no doubt that we will not soon see a similar one reappear in a sale. A masterpiece that can be considered as single on the market has no price, but I think nobody could reasonably predict that it would be so high.
Getty Museum Buys $100m Trove of Works https://t.co/bD86lPUUmX pic.twitter.com/lqH9vWiQf1— Art Market Monitor (@artmarket) July 21, 2017
1762 The Minuet by Giandomenico Tiepolo
2017 SOLD for £ 3.1M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2014 before the sale of its pendant by Christie's (see below)
His art is in high demand and he is assisted by his two sons. The elder, Giandomenico, takes opportunity of these bucolic stays to observe a surprising mix of nobles, peasants and actors.
Circa 1762 Giandomenico Tiepolo painted a pair of oils on canvas 33 x 49 cm, separated some years ago.
The Minuet is danced by the nobles, recognizable by their beautiful clothes and the velvet masks of the women. This painting was twice sold by Christie's, for £ 1.3M including premium on July December 6, 2007 and for £ 3.1M including premium on July 6, 2017, lot 22, over a lower estimate of £ 1.5M.
Its pendant was sold by Christie's for $ 3.65M including premium on January 29, 2014 over a lower estimate of $ 2M. The theme is more popular. A dancing gypsy girl rotates four dressed dogs standing on their hind legs. A dense and joyful crowd participates in the action.
Giandomenico amused without seeking to express a social criticism, unlike Hogarth. By its animation and its fine lines, this village scene also anticipates by several decades the drawings and paintings by Goya or Boilly.
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.
1816 Turner inspired by the Greeks
2009 SOLD 13 M$ including premium
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.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.