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Two Amusing & Weird paintings by “The Master of the Fertility of the Egg” (really!)

April 17, 2012

Lot 3. ACTIVE IN BRESCIA DURING THE LATE 17TH AND EARLY 18TH CENTURY, A GROTESQUE SCENE WITH ANIMALS PLAYING AND A DOG WRAPPED IN SWADDLING CLOTHES, oil on canvas, 85 by 120 cm.;ᅠ33-1/2 by 47-1/4 in. Estimate: £10,000-15,000. THIS LOT SOLD FOR £51,650 (HAMMER PRICE + BUYER’S PREMIUM).

There are many unknown Old Master painters who go by unusual and/or descriptive names (“The Master of the Holy Blood” and “The Master of 1517” are two examples), but “The Master of the Fertility of the Egg” is new to me.  These two paintings are among the first items From the Collection of Prince and Princess Henry De la Tour d’Auvergne Lauraguais for sale May 3 at Sotheby’s London.  These paintings are so strange, you have to wonder, “What was this guy on?”  Check out the geese poking out through the eyes and nose of the skull (above).

A painting by the same artist sold at an October 2010 Sotheby’s Old Master painting sale in London carried this brief description of the artist:

The artist was a follower of the Brescian painter Faustino Bocchi (1659-1742). The works of this eponymous artist were first grouped together by Mariolina Olivari in her 1990 monograph on Bocchi.

The name dervies from the painting in the Milwaukee Art Museum which depicts dwarfs, geese and lobsters hatching out of eggs incubated by a large man (see M. Olivari, Faustino Bocchi e l’arte di figure pigmei 1659-1741, Milan 1990, p. 260, cat. D6).

LOT 4. ACTIVE IN BRESCIA DURING THE LATE 17TH AND EARLY 18TH CENTURY, A CONCERT OFᅠ ANIMALS, BIRDS, AND STYLISED FIGURES, oil on canvas, 92.5 by 122 cm.; 36-3/8 by 48ᅠ in. Estimate:  £15,000-20,000. THIS LOT SOLD FOR £51,650 (HAMMER PRICE + BUYER’S PREMIUM).

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