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Old Masters at Auction in New York – from Piety to Hilarity – UPDATED with sale results

June 2, 2012

Lot 33. Philippe de Champaigne (Brussels 1602-1674 Paris), The Holy Family with a Sparrow, oil and gold on panel laid down on board 9¾ x 7½ in. (24.7 x 19 cm.) Estimate: $200,000 – $300,000. This lot sold a hammer price of $480,000 ($578,500 with buyer’s premium). The same buyer also purchased lot 42, a painting by a 17th-century follower of Hugo van der Goes; lot 73, a circle of Rembrandt portrait (sold by the Metropolitan Museum of Art); and lot 78, a van Bloemen (L’Orizzonte) landscape (also from the Met).

UPDATE 1: The morning sale at Sotheby’s did not disappoint as a disappointing sale as so many of the offerings were disappointing to begin with — 45 lots failed to sell.  However, in the opening minutes there was some spirited bidding for works once dubbed “Italian primitives.” Lot 4 (below) by Colantonio rocketed past its $60,000-80,000 estimate with two determined bidders continuing at $10,000 increments (one of whom jumped in at $230,000) to a final hammer price of $460,000. Bidding on lot 6 (below) by the Pseudo Dalmasio soared well past the $250,000-350,000 estimate and reached a hammer price of $660,000. [Images and catalogue entries for each have been added to the original post] Complete list of results.

UPDATE 2: The afternoon sale at Christie’s generated some strong sales … also suffered 38 unsold lots (out of 98 offered) — complete list of results. Frankly, the day was a slog.

ORIGINAL POST: Pick your way through the June 6 Old Master sales in New York (Sotheby’s sale in the morning and Christie’s in the afternoon), and you’ll find interesting and compelling items.  But, there’s also a lot of mediocrity to dull the senses.

Among the jewels is The Holy Family with a Sparrow (above) at Christie’s only recently attributed to Phillipe de Champaigne according to the lot notes. The composition is based on a similarly titled Raphael (or workshop) drawing now in the Louvre. Its scale, less than 10×8 inches, suggests a private devotional function and “is recorded in the inventory of Champaigne’s estate drawn up on 17 August 1674, shortly after the artist’s death.”  Despite the obvious condition problems (the vertical cracks running through St. Anne and the Madonna), this should do well.

Lot 44. Master of Staffolo (Italian, active 15th Century)
The Madonna at the Holy House of Loreto with Saints Anthony of Padua and Bernardino of Siena, tempera and gold on panel, 26½ x 19¾ in. (67.3 x 50.2 cm.), shaped top. Estimate: $120,000 – $180,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $130,000 ($158,500 with buyer’s premium). The same buyer also purchased lot 81, the pair of Hubert Robert paintings (sold by the Met).

The Master of Staffolo’s The Madonna at the Holy House of Loreto with Saints Anthony of Padua and Bernardino of Siena (above) while awkward in its regimented composition is nonetheless interesting. According to the lot notes:

The Master of Staffolo is the name given to the anonymous painter of the high altar of the church of Sant’Egidio in the Marchigian town of Staffolo. Working under the influence of Gentile da Fabriano, this painter enjoyed substantial success in the second quarter of the fifteenth century, and according to Andrea de Marchi, may possibly be identified as Costantino di Franceschino di Cicco di Nicoluccio, a painter who also played a prominent role in local politics (see A. de Marchi,Gentile da Fabriano: un viaggio nella pittura italiana alla fine del gotico, Milan, 1992, pp. 112-112, 127, 129 and C.B. Strehlke, Italian Paintings 1250-1450 in the John G. Johnson collection and the Philadephia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 2004, pp. 311).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is offloading (de-accessioning) a dozen works including these next two by Pieter Brueghel the Younger — a Winter Landscape with Bird Trap and The Whitsun Bride. According to Suzanne Harleman’s essay in the 2001 exhibition catalogue Brueghel Enterprises:

No fewer than 127 versions of the Winter Landscape with Bird Trap are currently known.  Because of the large number of surviving copies, this theme is considered to be the most popular in Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s repertoire.  Of the identified examples, [Brueghel expert Klaus] Ertz believes 45 were painted by Pieter Brueghel the Younger himself.  He rates 51 copies as doubtful and the remaining 31 not as autograph.”

This painting is listed amongst the autograph works in Ertz’s catalogue raisonné (K. Ertz, Pieter Brueghel der Jüngere (1564-1637/38): die Gemälde mit kritischem oeuvrekatalog, Lingen, 1988/2000, I, p. 575, II, p. 618, no. E712). However, the Metropolitan’s own Walter Leidtke considered it a workshop replica (W. A. Liedtke, Flemish Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1984, I, pp. 27-28, II, pl. 15). Presuming the Ertz opinion dominates and the work is in good condition, it should do well as it entered the Met’s collection 90 years ago, making it very fresh to the market .

Lot 72. Pieter Brueghel II (Brussels 1564/5-1637/8 Antwerp), The bird trap, oil on panel, 15¼ x 22¾ in. (38.8 x 58.8 cm.) Estimate: $250,000 – $350,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $340,000 ($410,500 with buyer’s premium). The same buyer also purchased lot 71, a Gysels winter townscape (also sold by the Met).

By contrast, “Klaus Ertz (Ertz, op. cit., II, p. 764), who lists only two autograph works of this subject [The Whitsun Bride] in his catalogue raisonné on the artist, suggests that the present picture is a second version of the painting now in Staatliche Kunstsammlungen und Museen in Dessau (inv. no. 45).”

Lot 74. Pieter Brueghel II (Brussels 1564/5-1637/8 Antwerp), The Whitsun Bride
signed ‘.P.BREVGHE[L]’ (center right, on the window), oil on panel 20 x 30 5/8 in. (50.8 x 77.8 cm.) Estimate: $200,000 – $300,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $570,000 ($686,500 with buyer’s premium).

 This next image is delicate, doll-like and exquisite (another Met de-accession).

Lot 76. Master of the Brunswick Diptych (Netherlandish, active late 15th century), The Virgin and Child with Saints Mary Magdalene and Dorothy, oil on panel 19¼ x 15¼ in. (48.8 x 38.7 cm.) Estimate: $200,000 – $300,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $140,000 ($170,500 with buyer’s premium).

According to the lot notes:

The anonymous Netherlandish author of this charming panel was given his placeholder name by Max J. Friedländer in 1927 after the diptych with The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, a Carthusian monk and Saint Barbara in the Herzog-Anton-Ulrich-Museum in Brunswick, which the scholar had formerly attributed to Geertgen tot Sint Jans (M.J. Friedländer, Die altniederländische Malerei, Berlin, 1924-1937; Eng. trans. as Early Netherlandish Painting, Leiden, 1967-1976, V, pp. 31-32). Indeed, the doll-like physiognomies of the figures in these paintings are highly reminiscent of Geertgen’s style, and it is likely that the master either trained in Geertgen’s workshop, or was strongly influenced by him. More recently, scholars have proposed a possible identification as Jacob van Haarlem, who according to Karel van Mander (Het schilder-boeck, 1604), trained Jan Mostaert. This may be the Jacob Jansz. Van Haarlem who is documented in Haarlem from 1483 until his death in 1509.

Next up is this very fine pair of paintings by Hubert Robert (another Met de-accession):

Lot 81. Hubert Robert (Paris 1733-1808), The Ruins; and The Old Bridge, the first signed, dated and inscribed ‘Q R/Robert/1777’ (left, on the stone tablet), oil on canvas, circular, each 32¾ in. (83.1 cm.) diameter, a pair (2) Estimate: $800,000 – $1,200,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $1.6 million ($1,874,500 with buyer’s premium) and was purchased by the same buyer as lot 44 Master of Staffolo (above).

Lot 81. Hubert Robert (Paris 1733-1808), The Ruins

Lot 81. Hubert Robert (Paris 1733-1808), The Old Bridge

The final lot of the sale is Girolamo Romanino’s Christ Carrying the Cross formerly in the collection of the Brera and recently restituted, as noted in an earlier posting, to the heirs of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe.

Girolamo Romanino (Brescia 1484/7-1560), Christ Carrying the Cross, oil on canvas 31 7/8 x 28 3/8 in. (81 x 72 cm.) Estimate: $2,500,000 – $3,500,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $4 million ($4,562,500 with buyer’s premium).

Here’s the opening paragraph from the extensive lot notes (there’s also a video):

Christ Carrying the Cross is a masterpiece of Girolamo Romanino’s fully mature style and among the most potent and moving depictions of the theme in sixteenth-century Italian art. A leading painter of the north Italian school, Girolamo di Romano, who during his lifetime came to be called Romanino, was born between 1484 and 1487 in Brescia, then under Venetian rule. Active as a painter of frescoes, altarpieces, portraits and private devotional pictures, Romanino worked in numerous cities across northern Italy, including Padua, Cremona, Trento and Brescia, which remained his chief residence over the course of his career. Little is known about his early life or artistic training. Based on the evidence of his first documented works, scholars have assumed that–following a likely apprenticeship in his native Brescia–Romanino traveled to Venice, where he learned from Bellini and Giorgione, as well as from Dürer’s great altarpiece, the Virgin of the Rose Garlands, then in the church of San Bartolomeo (1506; Prague, Národni Galerie). His artistic education also surely included a sojourn in Milan, where he would have seen the work of Bramante and Bramantino, and where he must have absorbed the Lombard interest in acutely observed naturalistic detail and the truthful transcription of quotidian reality.

Meanhwhile, uptown at Sotheby’s there’s not much about which to get excited.

Lot 4. LOT 4
NICCOLÒᅠ ANTONIOᅠ COLANTONIO, NAPLESᅠ CIRCAᅠ 1420ᅠ -ᅠ AFTERᅠ 1460, BLESSEDᅠ LEONARDᅠ OFᅠ ASSISI, oilᅠ onᅠ panel, 13ᅠ 1/8ᅠ ᅠ byᅠ 3ᅠ 5/8ᅠ ᅠ in.;ᅠ 33.3ᅠ byᅠ 9.3ᅠ cm. Estimate $60,000-80,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of $460,000 ($554,500 including the buyer’s premium).

Lot 4 catalogue entry:

This small panel once formed part of a complex polyptych, commissioned by Alfonso of Aragon for the Rocchi chapel in the church of San Lorenzo Maggiore, Naples.1 The panels which formed the polyptych are Colantonio’s earliest extant works, and they represent an extremely important commission in the history of Neapolitan quattrocento painting. The polyptych, although now broken up and with elements in various collections (see below), was described in great detail by the sixteenth century Neapolitan historiographer Camillo Tutini, thus providing us a fairly detailed idea of what it would have looked like originally:

“si vede nella chiesa di San Lorenzo de’frati conventuali la tavola nella cappella de’Rochi divisa in due parti: in quello di supra si vede un San Francesco in piedi, il quale dà il libro della regola a molti Santi Frati e molte Sante Monache della sua religione che inginocchiati gli stanno intorno; in quella di sotto vi è un San Girolamo in atto di studiare con molti libri dipinti; ne li due pilastri che sono attaccati al quadro, in essi vi sono compartiti molti nichetti finti, dentro de quali vi sono pittati vari santi e beati della religione francescana; et il fondo di detto quadro è tutto d’oro all’uso antico.”2

As described, the center section was comprised of two large panels, the upper portion of which was Colantonio’s St. Francis of Assisi Giving the Rule to the First and Second Franciscan Orders, today in the Capodimonte, Naples. As Tutini records, the bottom panel was a large painting depicting St. Jerome, though there is some debate as to the identification of the picture. Ferdinando Bologna hypothesized it was the St. Jerome in his Study Removing the Thorn from the Lion’s Paw, now also in the Capodimonte. More convincingly, however, Adriano Amendola argues that the Capodimonte St. Jerome cannot be a candidate, based on the fact that Tutini’s description omits any mention of a lion, as well as the fact that he describes the original background as covered by gold, which the Capodimonte St. Jerome lacks.3 Despite the debate on the identification of the bottom panel, what is certain is that on either side of the panels were two pilasters, each with niches which contained images of beatified or sainted Francsican friars, including the present Leonard of Assisi.4 The altarpiece was disassembled in 1641, in which year cardinal Luigi Caetani took seven of the original twelve panels into his personal collection, where they remained until after World War II.5 This Blessed Leonard of Assisi was not part of the Caetani collection, though that group, as well as the remaining three known panels survive today and are accounted for in private collections. Silvestro, Pietro da Treia (or da Monticelli), Galbazio Roberto Malatesta, Meffeo and Ranieri all belong to the heirs of Conte Vittorio Cini, Venice; Giovanni da Perugia is located in the Museo Morandi, Bologna; Egidio is located in the Fondazione Roberto Longhi, Florence; and Leo and Morico were recently re-discovered in a private Italian collection.

The handling of this Blessed Leonard of Assisi displays Colantonio’s strong associations with Northern painting, particularly the work of Jan van Eyck. The work is executed entirely in oil, a technique which developed in the North and had gained recent popularity in southern Italy. Colantonio’s knowledge, and adept use of the preferred medium of his Northern contemporaries emphasizes his key role as an artist partly responsible for synthesizing Northern techniques with Neapolitan religiosity. Colantonio would have had access to great works by Northern artists through the collection of Alfonso of Aragon, which included works by both van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden. Such influences manifested themselves not only through the present example, but in other works from Colantonio’s oeuvre, including a Crucifixion (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, inv. no. 94) which is derived from a prototype by van Eyck in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (acc. no. 33.92ab).6 Colantonio is also thought to have painted a Deposition (Naples, S Domenico Maggiore) based on Rogier van der Weyden’s tapestries of scenes from the Passion of Christ (untraced), which decorated the ‘Hall of Triumph’ in the Castelnuovo, Naples. Though scholarship today is in agreement that Colantonio is the author of the present panel, the series of Franciscans to which it belongs have at times previously been given by some scholars to the young Antonello da Messina. Antonello was another artist strongly influenced by Northern traditions, receiving his early training in Colantonio’s workshop circa 1450.

We are grateful to Keith Christiansen, Xavier Salomon, and Larry Kanter for supporting the attribution to Colantonio, based on first hand inspection.

1. See Sricchia Santoro, op.cit.

2. trans:”One sees in the church of San Lorenzo of the Conventual Brothers the painting in the chapel of the Rocchi family which is divided in two parts: the upper one shows a Saint Francis standing, who is giving the book of the Rule of the Order to many Monk and Nun Saints of his order who are shown kneeling around him; and below one sees a Saint Jerome who is studying with many illustrated books; and with two pilasters which are joined to the altarpiece, there divided in to many feigned niches, in which are depicted different Sainted and Beatified members of the Franciscan order, and the ground of the said painting is all gilt, in the old fashioned manner”. The original manuscript is now housed in the Biblioteca Nazionale, Naples (See B. Croce, Il manoscritto di Camillo Tutini sulla Storia dell’arte napoletana, in Napoli Noilissima, VII, fasc. 8, 1898, p. 121).

3. For an illustrated reconstruction as presented by both Bologna and Amendola, see Amendola, op.cit., figs. 45 and 46.

4. The reconstruction presented by Ferdinando Bologna indicates that only ten panels were part of the original polyptych. Adriano Amendola illustrates a reconstruction which acknowledges the existence of another two, as yet unidentified panels.

5. Amendola, op.cit., p. 73.

6. That picture is currently listed as “Anonymous Valencian Artist”, though it has at various times been given to Colantonio. The first to do so was Roberto Longhi in 1955.

Lot 6. THEᅠ PSEUDOᅠ DALMASIOᅠ DEGLIᅠ SCANNABECCHI, ACTIVEᅠ INᅠ BOLOGNAᅠ ANDᅠ PISTOIA,ᅠ MIDᅠ 14THᅠ CENTURY, MADONNAᅠ ANDᅠ CHILDᅠ ENTHRONEDᅠ WITHᅠ SIXᅠ ANGELS, temperaᅠ onᅠ panel,ᅠ goldᅠ ground, 17ᅠ 3/4ᅠ ᅠ byᅠ 14ᅠ 1/4ᅠ in.;ᅠ 45ᅠ byᅠ 36.1ᅠ cm. Estimate: $250,000-350,000. This lot sold to a telephone bidder for a hammer price of $660,000 ($794,500 including the buyer’s premium).

Lot 6 catalogue entry:

Although his biographical profile has remained somewhat elusive (even his true name is unknown to us), the Pseudo- Dalmasio’s artistic personality is rather well defined. Not only was he one of the most important artists in Bologna in the wake of Giotto’s visit there in the mid 1330’s, he appears to have worked with the great master on at least one occasion (the predella of Giotto’s Santa Maria degli Angeli altarpiece has been assigned to him). Indeed, his fame must have been considerable enough to win him major commissions in Tuscany, where he painted frescos in the churches of Santa Maria Novella in Giotto’s own hometown of Florence and of San Francesco in Pistoia.1 Roberto Longhi was the first to connect the name of Dalmasio degli Scannabecchi to a group of works that he noticed were by a Bolognese painter of strong Tuscan tendencies. The historical Dalmasio was indeed a painter of an aristocratic background, and was in fact the father of the painter Lippo del Dalmasio, and Longhi tentatively associated him with the group of works. However, although Dalmasio was documented in Tuscany, his dates place him as too young to have been an artist capable of producing the works of the 1330s and later that had been grouped under his name. Thus subsequent art historians have tended to prefer to identify him as “Dalmasio” or as the Pseudo-Dalmasio, retaining the working name long associated with the painter for convenience sake.

When Longhi first published this charming Madonna and Child with Angels, then in the Askew collection, he gave the panel to Dalmasio, noting the absorption of Tuscan style reformed by the artist into “un nuovo realismo espressivo”.2 The provenance noted by Longhi for this picture tracing it to the Dal Pero collection, has led Medica to hypothesize the potential of it having been in the church of Santa Croce in the family’s native city, Imola.3 A comparison with the present panel and the Pseudo Dalmasio’s Madonna and Child in the Philadelphia Art Museum, provides striking parallels; the position of the head, tilted downward and to right; the long, slender nose, faintly aquiline at its tip, the slightly narrowed eyes, shaded in a soft sfumato to create the illusion of a rounded, prominent lower lid; the sweet, narrow mouth with shading below the lower lip; there can be no mistake that both were executed by the same hand, one altogether independent from Dalmasio.4 Through a Giottesque use of chiaroscuro, here the artist skillfully molds the figures’ features to create tangible expressions recalling the countenances of those in the Bardi frescoes, conveying at once the inquietude and excitement of the angels and serenity of the Madonna. As Benati notes, in contrast to the artist’s more liberal constructions in collaboration with Giotto, in this work he returns to a more gothic perspective, contracting the space and placing the figures within an architectural artifice.5

R. Kirk Askew (1903-1974) was a leading gallerist and figure in the New York art world in the 20th Century. He joined the venerable London firm of Durlacher Brothers in 1927 when they opened a branch in New York in order to benefit from the booming American market in art and antiques. Under Askew’s management, the business flourished and began to outshine the English branch, and in 1937 he was able to buy the New York gallery outright, which he ran until the late 1960’s. Although originally focused on more traditional works, Durlacher soon began to feature more cutting-edge artists under his guidance; Barbara Hepworth, Hyman Bloom, Kurt Seligmann, Peter Blum and Walter Quirt amongst many others had important shows, and Ben Nicholson held his first exhibition in the United States there in 1949. Askew also continued to hold shows devoted to Old Masters, and his exhibitions of Italian Baroque painting were important in the rehabilitation of the genre in American eyes. In addition to running such an influential gallery, Askew also hosted with his wife Constance one of the most influential and important artistic “salons” in midcentury New York at their home at 166 East 61st Street. Poets, composers, painters and writers were all welcome and frequent guests included Dame Edith Sitwell, Philip Johnson, Paul Tchelitchew, Pierre Matisse, Aaron Copland, Archibald Macleish, George Balanchine, Lincoln Kirstein, and Agnes de Mille, amongst many others. The composer Virgil Thompson, a family friend from his Kansas City childhood, wrote one of his musical portraits of Askew.

1. The frescoes in Santa Maria Novella were painted on the bequest of Riccardo de’ Bardi, whose will had left money for the purchase a chapel there in circa 1334, and ordered its decoration. M. Boskovits assigned additional frescoes in Pistoia and even Pisa to the artist (see La pittura fiorentina alla vigilia del Rinascimento, 1975, p. 206, note 134).

2. M. Medica, op. cit. (see under Literature), p. 91.

3. R. Longhi, op. cit. (see under Literature), p. 35, translates: “a new expressive realism.”

4. D. Benati, op. cit. (see under Literature), p. 63, reproduced fig. 14.

5. Ibid., p.69.

Lot 9. CIRCLE  OF  ERCOLE  DE’  ROBERTI, ADORATION  OF  THE  SHEPHERDS, oil  on  panel, 19  1/4  by  21  1/2  in.;  48.5  by  54.7  cm. Estimate: $200,000-300,000. This lot sold to a telephone bidder for a hammer price of $160,000 ($194,500 including the buyer’s premium).

The authorship of this Adoration, the cover lot of the sale catalogue, is contested.  In the first half of the 20th century it was given to Ercole de’ Roberti, but that shifted according to the lot notes:

Autograph works by Ercole de’ Roberti are rare, due both to the brevity of his life and to the destruction of a large portion of his oeuvre, yet his impact on his contemporaries was significant and continued to resonate long after his death. Having assumed the attribution of a number of artists over the last century, scholarship remains divided on the authorship of this work. The most recent publication of the Adoration by Molteni in 1995 (see Literature) lists the work as a Ferrarese follower of Ercole de’Roberti, though in 1997, Pia Paladino proposed an attribution to the court manuscript illuminator, Guglielmo Giraldi (1445 – 1490), best known for his illustrations of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno for Federico de Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, now in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Rome.2 Palladino cited the physiognomic affinity with Giraldi’s broad, flat nosed figures though Toniolo is not in agreement with the potential addition to the illuminator’s oeuvre.3 On the other hand, Mattia Vinco and Andrea De Marchi, tentatively note stylistic similarities between this painting and the drawing of a Pagan Sacrifice now in the Art Institute of Chicago, formerly attributed to Giovan Francesco Maineri, though now considered closer to Giovan Battista Cavaletto (active 1486 – 1523), a painter, sculptor and illuminator and close follower of Ercole de’ Roberti. Cavaletto’s drawing style is indeed remarkably similar to this hand. Benati, however, does not agree with the either of these hypotheses and sees this hand more as a follower of Francesco del Cossa rather than of his pupil, Ercole. De’ Roberti trained in the studio of Francesco del Cossa and his style was heavily influenced not only by his master but also by Andrea Mantegna.

Lot 27. LORENZO  DE’  FERRARI, GENOA  1680  –  1744, ADAM  AND  EVE  WITH  THE  INFANTS  CAIN  AND  ABEL, oil  on  canvas, 36  by  37  1/4    in.;  91.5  by  94.5  cm. Estimate: $40,000-60,000. Bidding on this lot stopped at $30,000 and it failed to sell.

This lot is both ambitious and somewhat awkward.  More about the artist and the painting from the lot notes:

The son of Genoese artist Gregorio de’ Ferrari, Lorenzo was also the grandson of Domenico Piola. His work was initially dependent on that of his family members, though he developed a personal, more Rococo influenced style later in his career. He is said to have worked with his father, for whom he acted as primary studio assistant, on the restoration of Andrea Ansaldo’s dome in San Annunziata, Genoa. A reduced oil sketch of this composition (Palazzo Rosso, Genoa, inv. 1644) may be by Gregorio, though Mary Newcome Schleier has suggested that the rounded face of Eve indicates that Lorenzo was the likely author. The design for the composition was probably an invention of Gregorio, as are three other scenes devoted to the Creation of Man, from which the present example is the fourth in the series.

Lot 28. FRANCESCO  TREVISANI, CAPODISTRIA  1656-1746  ROMA, CHRIST  SUPPORTED  BY  ANGELS, oil  on  canvas, 51  1/2    by  38  1/4    in.  131  by  97  cm. Estimate: $180,000-220,000. Bidding on this lot stopped at $150,000 and it failed to sell.

This Trevisani is a handsome picture:

The dramatic lighting and heightened chiaroscuro would suggest a probable dating of around 1705 to 1710 for this work. It may be directly compared to Trevisani’s very similar treatment of the same subject, probably painted at much the same date, for Pope Clement XI Albani and now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (reproduced in F.R. DiFederico, Francesco Trevisani, 1977, p. 54, cat. no. 58, plate 47). DiFederico further notes a receipt of 1707 attached to the manuscript of Lione Pascoli’s early Vite of Trevisani, published in 1730, now kept in Perugia, in which Trevisani ackowledges payment for a picture representing `un Christo morto portato da due angeli‘, which may very well refer to the present painting. The source of the commission is not, however, recorded.

Lot 49. CIRCLE  OF  ERASMUS  DE  BIE, THE  OMMEGANG  IN  ANTWERP, inscribed  on  the  base  of  the  Colossus: PETER/VAN/AELST/PICTUR/INVEN…E/PS./…TVS/1664  …IAE  and  inscribed and monogrammed lower left: DIT IS./DEN.OMMERGANCK/OFT.CERMIS.VAN.HNTWERPEN, oil  on  panel, 42  1/4    by  28  7/8    in.;  73.9  by  106.2  cm. Estimate: $7,000-9,000. This lot sold to a telephone bidder for a hammer price of $6,500 ($8,125 including the buyer’s premium).

Talk about an unusual genre picture, this circle of de Bie is amusing, but …

The Ommergang, “omme” being “around” and “gang” a “walk”, is a commemorative procession that takes place in Belgian cities to this day. We see here an effigy of the giant, Antigoon who, according to legend, lived on the banks of the Scheldt and cut off the hands of merchants who refused to pay tithes upon entering the city. Once overthrown the giant’s own hands were cut off and thus the two severed hands, processed here on a staff ahead of him, became the symbol of Antwerp.

Lot 58. THE  HOVINGHAM  MASTER, ACTIVE  IN  THE  MID  17TH  CENTURY, THE  BIRTH  OF  BACCHUS, oil  on  canvas, 57  by  85  in.;  144.8  by  215.8  cm. Estimate: $60,000-80,000. Bidding on this lot stopped at $40,000 and it failed to sell.

Again, another unusual picture.

The oeuvre of this anonymous hand was originally grouped together by Anthony Blunt in 1961 (A. Blunt, “Poussin Studies XII: The Hovingham Master” in The Burlington Magazine, vol. 103 no. 704, November1961, pp. 457-458, reproduced p. 459 fig. 24) recognizing a cohesion between a number of works erroneously attributed to Nicolas Poussin. Blunt named the artist after two works at Hovingham Hall, Yorkshire in the collection of Sir William Worsley. In the Birth of Bacchus the artist’s figures, with their distinctive cool flesh tones, elongated noses and pointed, unarticulated fingers can be compared with those in his Nurture of Jupiter, now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington. The pair of reclining nymphs on a hillock in the background is repeated in both compositions while the tiny wings of the putti, the delicate floral wreathes and his treatment of foliage “almost as if it were in embroidery or tapestry” link this back to the Hovingham Toilet of Venus and Leda and the Swan. The more neo-classical treatment of the figures in this work leads Blunt to a dating most likely after 1650.

Lot 98. FLEMISH  SCHOOL,  17TH  CENTURY, THE  MONKEY  BARBER’S  SHOP, oil  on  panel, 29  5/8    by  41  5/8    in.;  75.2  by  105.9  cm. Estimate: $25,000-35,000. Bidding on this lot stopped at $17,000 and it failed to sell.

Finally, this painting is so hilarious I had to share it. On the far left, a monkey mugs for the camera while his cat/client dejectedly waits. On the far right is a cat with its paw in a sling! And the central passage (detail below) is such a wonderful study of vanity. I couldn’t possibly live with it (nor contemplate spending$25,000-35,000 on it), but I do find it entertaining. Sadly, there are not lot notes.

Lot 98. FLEMISH SCHOOL, 17TH CENTURY, THE MONKEY BARBER’S SHOP

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