Old Dutch Masters
Chronology : 16th century 1520-1529 17th century 1620-1629 1630-1639 1640-1649 1650-1659 1660-1679
ca 1520s A Child Prodigy in Leiden
2018 SOLD for £ 11.5M including premium
A pupil of Cornelis, Lucas Hugensz is skilled for graphic arts. From his adolescence, he shows a great maturity. Beginning in 1508, his engraved work is important, with an abundance and sharpness of details and a beauty of contrasts that have enthralled Dürer. The colors of his paintings are the brightest of his time. He is known as Lucas van Leyden.
Lucas was born in Leiden. It is believed that his father was a painter. His date of birth is questioned. We do not know how he learned engraving or after whom he specialized in his genre scenes animated by crowds of characters. He married in Leiden in 1515 and died in 1533 at about 40 years old.
His biography is blurred by his praise by van Mander, born fifteen years after the death of Lucas, who could however have collected the memories of direct witnesses. Lucas appears passionate about his art from his childhood, working day and night until the exhaustion that will shorten his life.
The autograph works by Lucas van Leyden are extremely rare at auction. On December 4 in London, Christie's sells as lot 60 a 28 x 13 cm black chalk drawing of a richly dressed young man standing, probably a study for a detail of a composition that has not been identified. The watermark is known in Netherlands and Germany in the 1520s and 1530s.
This drawing belonged to the Rugby School and is sold for the benefit of its educational program. The September 10 press release announces an estimate in the region of £ 1.5M.
On 4 December Christie’s will present 'Old Masters/New Scholars: Works of Art to Benefit Rugby School,' led by a rare drawing by the Dutch Old Master painter and printmaker Lucas van Leyden.— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) October 7, 2018
Find out more about the sale here:https://t.co/AYcX38U2C7 pic.twitter.com/qNFrXbi61L
1626 A Mannerist Bronze atop a Fountain
2014 SOLD for $ 28M including premium
It is now listed by Christie's for sale in New York on December 11, lot 10 estimated $ 15M.
Here is my 2011 discussion (slightly reworded) introducing this lot:
During a routine visit to a castle in 2010, the expert from Christie's takes a look at the fountain in the middle of the yard. Thus a previously unknown masterpiece enters the art history.
The bronze 109 cm high adorning the top of the fountain had been in that place for at least 300 years. It is signed by Adriaen de Vries and dated 1626, the year of the artist's death.
Influenced by Giambologna, De Vries was spreading the new fashion for mannerism. Their bronzes give life to muscular bodies twisted in expressive attitudes inspired by antiquity, and which will be much later admired by Rodin.
The theme of the artwork is a naked standing mythological figure carrying a globe. This statue is shown on the article shared in 2011 by Antique Trader.
De Vries is particularly known for his statues for gardens and fountains. Working in Prague for the Emperor Rudolf II, he remained in that city after the death of his patron and accepted private commissions.
The arrival of such a lot on the art market is exceptional. We must go back over twenty years ago to find another authentic bronze by this artist. On 7 December 1989, the Getty bought at Sotheby's for £ 6.8 million including premium a Dancing faun 76 cm high.
1626-1627 A Youthful Master in Leiden
2012 SOLD 8.4 M£ including premium
Rembrandt wants to show his skills as a portraitist and specializes in tronies, these anonymous figures of characters showing varied human types. To win clients, he endeavours to show that he is mastering the technique of painting, the composition, and of course these contrasts of light and shadow made popular by Caravaggio and his followers.
On July 3 in London, Christie's sells the bust portrait of a soldier, a small panel 40 x 29 cm estimated £ 8M. Of course, the character is not identifiable, nor the origin of his uniform.
The chiaroscuro is particularly marked in this work, where half of the face is in the shadow of the wide hat. The realism of this heavy face is pretty neat. Whether you are beautiful or ugly, your best portrait will be done by the specialist, Harmensz Rembrandt van Rijn.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good price slightly below the lower estimate for this early work by Rembrandt: £ 8.4 million including premium.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Christie's.
The image below is shared by Wikimedia.
1632 Portrait of an Old Woman by Rembrandt
2000 SOLD for £ 20M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Thus freed from material constraints, Rembrandt can therefore devote himself to his art. 1632 is both a prolific and an experimental year. He begins to sell self-portraits, probably to better introduce himself to the wealthy clients of van Uylenburgh.
The main talent of Rembrandt is in the expressive realism of the portraits. The light is centered on the face and fades at the periphery of the image. The young artist experiments with the oval format which elegantly reduces the dark corners. It seems that the oval panels preceded the false frames painted on rectangular panels.
On December 13, 2000, Christie's sold the portrait of an old woman for £ 20M from a lower estimate of £ 4M, lot 52. The image is shared by Wikimedia. The bevelling of this 74 x 56 cm panel attests that the picture was oval from the start.
The portrait is signed van Ryn with the monogram RHL which marks the initials of his first name and his previous installation in Leiden. The artist has not yet found the best way to identify himself : in the same year, he sometimes signs with the simplified version Rembrant of his first name.
The painting is dated 1632. The woman is not identified, which attests that the portrait was painted for the use of her family. Her age is indicated : 62 years old.
In this half-length portrait, Rembrandt uses the padding of the shoulders to show that the woman is frail and petite. The eyes and the smile are a little tired. The cap is an essential accessory for a bourgeois woman of that time.
After investigation about the entourage of the artist, this person can only be Aeltje Sylvius née van Uylenburgh, a cousin of the dealer Hendrick. She and her husband also appear in other paintings. Rembrandt married her niece Saskia van Uylenburgh in 1634.
1632 A Business of Self Portraits
2020 SOLD for £ 14.5M including premium
Rembrandt was early interested in self-portrait, perhaps under the influence of his crossed portraits with his workshop colleague Jan Lievens. He used this theme from 1631 in several etchings.
Glory rewards talent. Rembrandt moved to Amsterdam at the end of 1631 while also working on commission in The Hague. In 1632 he painted numerous portraits as well as his first masterpiece of group scenes, the Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp.
Rembrandt then took an unprecedented initiative : rather than offering tronies, he painted self-portraits for sale. The painting is executed quickly with a wet in wet signature. If the piece is not sold, the support is reused. Self-portraits of the artist are certainly still hidden under a repaint made by his workshop.
On July 28 in London, Sotheby's sells one of these self-portraits, lot 12 estimated £ 12M. This oil on panel 22 x 16 cm is dated 1632, which is consistent with the very ephemeral variant 'Rembrant' of his signature. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
The demonstration of authenticity is based on autograph pentiments, and by the use of a board from the same oak as a portrait painted in the same year by Rembrandt. It is one of only two self-portraits on which Rembrandt is dressed as a respectable burger, with a very large ruff and a felt hat. The small format suggests that it is a portable piece which can be used as a sort of business card.
1637 Purist Portraits by Frans Hals
2018 SOLD for £ 10M including premium
Hals did not leave Haarlem and his art reflects the very specific ambience wanted by Ampzing. Portraitist of bourgeois and merchants, he does not confuse wealth and luxury. His sitters wear dark clothes only embellished with a white collar.
The faces have the same pictorial quality as the portraits made by Rembrandt but the monotony of his theme bored the following generations. The importance of his work was restored in the mid-nineteenth century by Thoré-Bürger who was also the discoverer of Vermeer.
In the early 1630s, Hals reduces his palette to gray, brown and black with an infinite variety of shades in these three colors. He is by that way reaching the high end of purism without losing the pictorial quality. His palette of blacks will be admired by van Gogh.
On December 6 in London, Christie's sells a pair of oils on canvas forming pendants, 93 x 68 cm each, lot 10 estimated £ 8M, in an exceptional state of preservation.
This pair is the three-quarter length portrait of a couple, dated 1637, possibly commissioned for their wedding anniversary. The man and the woman each hold a pair of deerskin gloves that symbolize their union. They are not identified but their age is recorded : 37 years old for the man and 36 for the woman.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's showing four masterpieces from the Eric Albada Jelgersma collection.
1648 Humility of Christ
2018 SOLD for £ 9.5M including premium
The scenes from the Gospels are part of his offer. In 1648 he paints The Pilgrims of Emmaus, oil on wood 68 x 65 cm preserved in the Musée du Louvre. Christ, who is of course the central character, responds to his traditional figuration, with waving hair covering his shoulders and with a short beard.
Rembrandt is more interested in the realism and psychology of faces than in mysticism. The young man who posed for the Emmaus scene is recognizable in a group of portraiture studies with various positions of the head that express the concentration of prayer and the humility, without a halo.
Two of these portraits were considered as autographs by the Rembrandt Research Project. The four or five other paintings in this group are copies of lost originals or imitations.
One of the two authentic portraits, oil on wood 25 x 21 cm, is kept at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. The other one, in same technique and dimensions, is estimated £ 6M for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 5, lot 18. Please watch the video prepared by the auction house. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1658 Rembrandt and Experts
2009 SOLD 20.2 M£ including premium
It is a half-length portrait of a man, painted in 1658. It had not been seen publicly since 1970 and has not participated in the major exhibition made by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in 2006 to celebrate the 400 th anniversary of the birth of the artist. It is estimated £ 18 million.
Rembrandt is the best studied artist in the world. Under the name of Rembrandt Research Project, a multidisciplinary team has been working since 1968 to authenticate or refute all the works that could be attributed to the master. This team, which was renewed several times, includes art historians and scientists.
Among the scientific methods used, we first think of the X-ray, of course. Do not neglect the dendrochronology, which allows to date the felling of the oak trees whose panels were used by the master. Historians, meanwhile, compared the artworks together by considering a consistency of style in order to separate the works of the master from those of his employees.
This work sponsored by the University of Amsterdam is extremely important. Thanks to these pioneers the ancient art has become the most exciting area of artistic expertise.
Small precision now that the official press release from Christie's is available on the web: the artwork for sale is on canvas, 107 x 87 cm.
My comments on dendrochronology do not apply to this work.
POST SALE COMMENT
The release by Christie's on Twitter expresses the essential: Rembrandt sells for £ 20.2M : the world auction record for a Rembrandt and the 4th highest price for an old master painting at auction.
The quoted price includes the premium.
I would add that this Rembrandt was important but not to the point of being described as historic. It is therefore quite understandable that it has not exceeded its estimate.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1661 Saint James the Greater by Rembrandt
2007 SOLD for $ 26M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
Around 1648 Rembrandt was in one of his frequent financially and socially difficult periods, and he would like his Supper at Emmaus, a modern painting on a biblical theme, to relaunch his career. The portraits of a young man as Christ are studies painted in parallel or for the preparation of this masterpiece. An oil on panel 25 x 21 cm was sold for £ 9.5M including premium by Sotheby's on December 5, 2018.
The artist is indeed satisfied with this personification of Christ. The same young man appears as a Christ in half length with folded arms, oil on canvas 110 x 90 cm generally dated between 1657 and 1661.
In 1661 Rembrandt paints a series of Apostles, looking again at what the like of some of Christ's companions could be. This set of oils on canvas is homogeneous by its format, around 92 x 75 cm, by its chromatic richness, and by the presence of a thin black border which has not always been preserved.
This corpus of six works including a self portrait as Saint Paul was not documented in period. They were painted in another difficult phase for the artist and may have been conceived as a new demonstrator of the ever increasing quality of his art.
Rembrandt's faith was complex. His father was from a Jewish family converted to the Reformed church and his mother was Catholic. His realism excludes an identification of the character's religious position by a halo. The half length portrait of an old pilgrim in neglected clothes enters through its pictorial characteristics in the series of the Apostles, and the differentiated history of the companions of Christ after the Passion makes it attribute to Saint James the Greater.
This portrait of a man with a face concentrated on his prayer, whose very large joined hands form the focal point of the image, is an allegory of a faith that transcends appearances, directly linked to the Gospels and without any reference to the Mendicant orders. .
This painting was sold for $ 26M including premium by Sotheby's on January 25, 2007, lot 74. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
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.