1464 The Romance of the Bigamist Knight
2012 SOLD 3.85 M£ including premium
At the end of the Hundred Years' War, the Duke of Burgundy Philip the Good maintains a prestigious court and is a patron of arts and literature. The prose novel Gillion de Trazegnies, composed at that time by an anonymous writer, is an amazing example of the revival of the courtly romance, with all the features of this literary genre.
The Trazegnies family actually existed in Hainaut, and the legend of the bigamist knight was told a long time before the writing of the novel. The reader is made weeping with this story of a pilgrim to the Holy Land who becomes a prisoner, believes that his wife is dead, becomes unintentionally a bigamist and is released of this accidental sin by his chevaleresque attitude.
This novel was published last year by the medievalist Stéphanie Vincent, who had access to the five copies in illuminated manuscripts of the original edition, all made for the Duke and his entourage.
Louis de Gruuthuse, stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland, was one of the five privileged who received such a copy, illuminated in 1464 with 8 large and 44 small images. Then it belonged to Francis I king of France and to the Dukes of Devonshire. It is estimated £ 3M, for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 5.
The illuminated page where you see the narrator discovering the heart of Gillion between the graves of his two wives is shown in the press release shared by Artdaily.
POST SALE COMMENT
This outstanding manuscript illuminated in Antwerp or Bruges was sold £ 3.85M including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's introducing both this romance and the Mystère de la Vengeance already discussed in this group :
1468 A Cassone Panel by Paolo Uccello
2020 SOLD for £ 2.4M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated post sale in 2020
The novelty of his time is the perspective. Paolo uses this geometric effect to bring an illusion of distance in panoramic formats featuring crowds of characters and horses, all differentiated in a superb clarity. Scenes of battles in honor of the ancient Romans are very fashionable in Florentine palaces, allowing the artist to avoid the religious dominance.
The ceremonial piece of furniture is the cassone, a storage chest for the bride's personal belongings. Its panels are painted, as are the woodwork or the headboards. This use invites the theme of fertility. The culmination of this bedroom art is an oil on canvas 119 x 165 cm conceived to be transportable, the Venus of Urbino, painted by Titian in 1538.
Back to Paolo. On July 28, 2020, Sotheby's sold as lot 23 for £ 2.4M over a lower estimate of £ 600K a tempera and gold painting showing a battle scene, with tents and banners on both sides of a river. This 43 x 162 cm work on a 51 x 170 cm panel has all the characteristics of a cassone panel.
The decapitated head of the defeated general recalls the final episode of the battle of the Metaur won by the Romans against the Carthaginians. The use of perspective allows the phases of the action to be placed at apparent gradual distances with great narrative quality.
This work, which had been confiscated in 1942, resurfaced after negotiations with the spoiled heirs. Its inspection concludes as an autograph painting by Paolo Uccello. The proposed date is around 1468, about two years before another panel of the same expressive diversity, The Hunt in the Forest, 73 x 177 cm.
#AuctionUpdate Making its auction debut, Paolo Uccello’s battle scene soars to £2,415,000, over fifteen times its previous auction record. Colleagues from Old Masters, Impressionist and Contemporary were all on the phone bidding for the work. #RembrandtToRichter pic.twitter.com/X6D6qC1Goo— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) July 28, 2020
1470 Eternal Virgil
2013 SOLD 1.18 M£ including premium
In 1468 Venice hosts its first printer, Johann of Speyer, who had been a goldsmith in Mainz. Johann starts the task of publishing the masterpieces of Latin literature. The quality of his typography and layout is due to a clever imitation of the manuscripts.
In 1470, Johann died prematurely. His brother and collaborator Wendelin maintained until 1477 this excellent workshop now subject to the competition from Jenson. The tradition of the literary editions of Venice was launched. It will make the fame of Aldus.
On June 12 in London, Christie's sells the works of Virgil published in 1470 by Vindelinus de Spira. This book combining the Bucolica, Georgica and Aeneid along with comments (argumenta) is luxuriously printed on vellum and remarkably complete. It is estimated £ 500K. Here is the link to the catalog.
The Virgil of Wendelin is not the editio princeps but it is equally remarkable because it was built from a manuscript of a high literary fidelity.
POST SALE COMMENT
Very good price, £ 1.18 million including premium, for this incunabula produced by one of the best workshops of the time.
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 :
1470-1475 Descent into Limbo, by Mantegna
2003 SOLD for $ 28.6M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
On January 23, 2003, Sotheby's sold for $ 28.6M including premium a Descent of Christ into Limbo, tempera and gold on canvas 39 x 42 cm painted circa 1470-1475. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
This theme is rare because it is only told in apocryphal scriptures. Between the Passion and the Resurrection, Christ makes a visit to Limbo where the virtuous patriarchs wait for the Messiah to open to them the gates of Paradise, closed since the fault of Adam.
The figures are standing on two floors as if by an ingenious theater machinery. Christ is seen from the back, bent over to comfort a patriarch who comes out at mid length from the abyss. At the same level as Christ in this world of the dead, five characters pray, four on the left and one on the right. They are naked except for a modest cloth around the belt.
The composition is designed with a remarkable balance divided in its center by the stick of Christ, creating a strong narrative tension although the main character, Christ, is not recognizable. Mantegna was possibly influenced by Donatello's formal studies for the interaction between the characters. Once again his independence from the traditional Christian iconography is extraordinary for his time.
1471-1476 The Chapel of the Condottieri
2018 SOLD for € 2.2M including premium
Galeazzo Maria Sforza was a true prince of the Renaissance, altogether humanistic and perverse. He early deserved his reputation for lust and sadism. At the same time the best musicians were coming in his ducal chapel to sing and compose masses and motets.
A large size illuminated manuscript made for the young Duke was sold for £ 1.22M including premium by Christie's on July 6, 2011 over a lower estimate of £ 600K. It is estimated € 600K for sale by OVA Aristophil operated by Aguttes in Paris Hôtel Drouot on June 16, lot 22.
This very large book 35 x 24 cm could be read on a lectern in a chapel. The luxurious layout is of a great originality. The illuminations are from the hand of an artist identified as the Maestro d'Ippolita after a work done in 1465 for the wedding of Ippolita Sforza.
These Sforza's Great Hours for the use of Rome are mainly dedicated to the Virgin, in Latin with a few minor texts in Italian. The ducal emblems and monograms displayed in various parts of the book assess that its magnificence is intended for Duke Galeazzo Maria himself.
One page refers to Sixtus IV, allowing to date the book between the election of this pope in 1471 and the murder of Galeazzo Maria in 1476.
La session estivale des ventes #Aristophil débute le 16 juin à 14h30 chez @Aguttes_ @Drouot. Entre les lettres de Marie de Médicis et François Ier, on retrouvera le chef-d’oeuvre d’enluminures « Les Grandes Heures de Galeazzo Maria Sforza » https://t.co/AjQQY7hdck pic.twitter.com/TYZkERxWg0— AuctionLab (@byAuctionLab) June 5, 2018
1477 The Canterbury Tales printed by Caxton
1998 SOLD for £ 4.6M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
He is a very important promoter of English literature, himself making numerous translations of secular texts. He understands the cultural incentive of the printing press during a visit to Cologne in 1471. He immediately transfers a printing press to Bruges. Translated from French by Caxton and printed in Flanders in 1473, the Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye is the very first incunabula in the English language. A copy was sold for £ 1.08M including premium by Sotheby's on July 15, 2014.
When Caxton returned to London in 1476, his new expertise was eagerly awaited. He instals a printing press in Westminster, the first of its kind in England.
His passion for English literature is heightened by this possibility of dissemination. He is a great admirer of Chaucer, which he publishes without resorting to sponsors. Chaucer's masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, becomes in 1477 the first masterpiece of English printing. This achievement is all the more meritorious as Caxton later complained of the poor literary quality of the manuscript at his disposal.
About ten copies of this original edition have survived, plus three important fragments. The only complete copy, which had belonged to King George III, is in the British Library. The illuminated copy kept in Oxford has been completed.
On 8 July 1998 at lot 2, Christie's sold for £ 4.6M including premium the only copy in private hands, which is also one of the most complete with only 4 lacking leaves.
1477 Ptolemy's Cosmographia
2006 SOLD for £ 2.14M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
This monumental work is ignored in the Christian world and rediscovered by astronomers in Baghdad at the beginning of the 9th century. Around 1300 CE the Byzantine scholar Planudes finds a Greek version of the Geography of Ptolemy, which then takes the name of Cosmographia, and reconstructs the maps. A Latin translation of the text in 1406 by Jacobus Angelus is used for the first printed editions.
The 26 maps based on Ptolemy's informations are engraved on copper plates prepared by Taddeo Crivelli. They are published with the text of Jacobus Angelus in Bologna in 1477. Each map occupies a double page 42 x 56 cm overall, which is the prestigious Royal folio format used in particular by Gutenberg in his Bible.
On October 10, 2006, Sotheby's sold a complete copy of the Bologna Cartographia with in period hand-coloring and binding for £ 2.14M including premium, lot 394. It most certainly belonged to the bibliophile Hieronymus Münzer, who started his collection of printed books in 1476 and was also a keen traveler. This undocumented provenance is made plausible by its later belonging to the humanist Pirckheimer from whom a letter containing a posthumous praise of Münzer is known.
The next step is the integration of the explorers' discoveries. From 1477 Nicolaus Germanus creates a terrestrial and a celestial globe. In 1482 the Ulm edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia is the first modern atlas, integrating the maps of Nicolaus.
Nasrid - An Ear Dagger
2010 SOLD 3.7 M£ including premium
It had also to protect the hand, and the ear dagger was appreciated by hunters and soldiers. In this model, the guard consists of two flat disks (the "ears") confronting on both sides of the handle.
A refined specimen is for sale on October 6 in London by Sotheby's. Coming from Nasrid Spain, this piece has been made in the 9th century AH, more than 500 years ago. The final defeat of the Nasrids by Ferdinand and Isabella was in 1492 of our calendar.
With a total length of 30 cm, it is finely damascened with scenes of hunting and with cartouches including Kufic-style inscriptions. This lot is estimated £ 600K.
POST SALE COMMENT
The bidders confirmed the beauty and rarity of this piece, well beyond the price estimated by the auction house. This dagger was sold £ 3.7 million including premium
Mamluk - A Damascened Shirt of Mail
2015 SOLD for $ 2.3M including premium
On December 5 in Rock Island IL, Rock Island Auction Company sells a Mamluk shirt of mail and plate, lot 1262estimated in excess of $ 200K.
The weaving of this garment is the simplest and most effective model where each ring is linked with its four surrounding rings. The coat opens from the front side. At the front and back of the garment, the plates are inlaid with a gilding of koftgari type.
Inscriptions are difficult to read, but the reference to the Mamluk Sultan Qaitbay seems indisputable. It was probably created for the sultan himself or one of his riders. A similar armor assigned to the same reign is preserved at the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul. Qaitbay ruled Egypt from 871 to 901 AH, during the last quarter of the 15th century of our calendar.
This piece is in a very satisfactory condition for its age. A few rings and a few plate rivets are missing or twisted. About 60% of the koftgari is present with a particularly good conservation on the front of the shirt.