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The other Chatsworth gems at Sotheby’s Dec. 2012 Old Master sale – UPDATED with sale results

December 3, 2012

UPDATE 2 - According to the Los Angeles Times, the manuscript will go on view at the Getty this Sunday after British authorities finally lifted the export ban that had been imposed in an attempt to keep the work in the UK.

UPDATE 1 – According to the New York Times, superb quality and historical significance was no guarantee of a sale.  Lot 50 failed to break through its £4 million low estimate and tanked at a phantom bid of £3.9 million, while Lot 51 hammered down at £3.4 million, on the low side of its £3-5 million estimate (the final price including buyer’s premium was £3,849,250), and according to Bloomberg it was sold to “the Basel-based manuscript dealer Joern Guenther … bidding on behalf of the J. Paul Getty Museum.” The Getty issued a press release about the acquisition (courtesy ArtDaily).

ORIGINAL POST – There are some choice and deliciously weird old masters coming to auction in London this week at Sotheby’s and Christie’s including a significant Raphael drawing (Sotheby’s) and theatrical Jordans (Christie’s).  The Sotheby’s sale on December 5, 2012, is a lean 52 lots topped by the Raphael and a Jan Steen, but it also includes work by that Old Master sale stalwart, Pieter Brueghel the Younger.

Sotheby’s has bragging rights for having secured three works from Chatsworth, the venerable English country house with a remarkable collection of art (and a daunting maintenance agenda – you thought your roof repairs were pricey?), including the Raphael. However, the other multi-million pound lots from Chatsworth are brilliantly executed 15th century Netherlandish illuminated manuscripts.

Lot 50. PHILIP THE GOOD'S COPY OF THE MYSTÈRE DE LA VENGEANCE BY EUSTACHE MARCADÉ, A DRAMA ON THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM BY THE ROMANS, IN FRENCH VERSE, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [SOUTHERN NETHERLANDS (HESDIN AND BRUGES), C. 1465]Estimate: 4,000,000 - 6,000,000 GBP

Lot 50. PHILIP THE GOOD’S COPY OF THE MYSTÈRE DE LA VENGEANCE BY EUSTACHE MARCADÉ, A DRAMA ON THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM BY THE ROMANS, IN FRENCH VERSE, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [SOUTHERN NETHERLANDS (HESDIN AND BRUGES), C. 1465]
Estimate: 4,000,000 – 6,000,000 GBP Bidding on this lot stopped at £3.9 million and it failed to sell.

According to the sale catalogue, this is: “One of the finest extant literary manuscripts of the fifteenth century, and by far the greatest volume from the library of the Dukes of Burgundy in private hands. (emphasis in the original)” Considering the general level of hoary rhetoric endemic to auction catalogues, the underling was probably necessary to distinguish this claim from the norm.  That said, the quality level of these manuscripts (at least viewed online) is impressive.  Here are some other leaves from the manuscript:

Lot 50. Detail.

Lot 50. Detail.

Lot 50. Detail.

Lot 50. Detail.

The second of the two manuscripts focuses on chivalry:

Like many medieval romans, this fictional text of chivalry is set in an imagined period of history.  Although the narrative supposedly took place in the time of “le noble roy childebert”, who died in 558, it recounts the adventures of a crusading knight based on two members of an important noble family from Hainault, Gilles I (1134-1161), the first lord of a united Trazegnies, and Gilles le Brun (1199-1276), the champion of the first Crusade of Saint Louis.

As with the previous lot, the sale catalogue underlines the claims of the works importance: “An outstanding medieval romance, entirely secular in subject, and the greatest volume from the library of the celebrated bibliophile Louis de Gruuthuse ever to come to the open market.”

Here are several images from the manuscript.

Lot 51. LOUIS DE GRUUTHUSE'S COPY OF THE DEEDS OF SIR GILLION DE TRAZEGNIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST, IN FRENCH, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [SOUTHERN NETHERLANDS (ANTWERP OR PERHAPS BRUGES), DATED 1464]Estimate: 3,000,000 - 5,000,000 GBP

Lot 51. LOUIS DE GRUUTHUSE’S COPY OF THE DEEDS OF SIR GILLION DE TRAZEGNIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST, IN FRENCH, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [SOUTHERN NETHERLANDS (ANTWERP OR PERHAPS BRUGES), DATED 1464]
Estimate: 3,000,000 – 5,000,000 GBP This lot sold for £3,849,250 (£3.4 million hammer price plus buyer’s premium).

Lot 51. Detail.

Lot 51. Detail.

Lot 51. Detail.

Lot 51. Detail.

Lot 51. Detail.

Lot 51. Detail.

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