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Old Masters Auctions in Paris – UPDATED with sale results

June 12, 2012

Lot 57. JEAN-ETIENNE LIOTARD, GENÈVE 1702 – 1789, PORTRAIT DE MADEMOISELLE LOUISE JACQUET Jean-Etienne Liotard ; Portrait of Mrs Jacquet ; Pastel Pastel 59,8 x 45 cm ; 23 1/2 by 17 3/4 in. Estimate: 300,000-400,000 EUR FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM €1,464,750

Before next month’s really big ticket London sales of Old Master paintings, there’s another set of sales later this month in Paris.  A previous blog highlighted a major item at Christie’s, while this will offer a sampling from each of the two sales.

Sotheby’s on June 21 has a very mixed assortment of “school of” and “attributed to” works along with third-ish rate paintings by better known artists (like Grueze, lot 26).  Amidst all that are some splendid works and curiosities.  The Liotard (above) is a gentle and elegant portrait done in pastel (and is the cover lot of the sale).  It’s delicacy and refinement transcend mere pretty.

Lot 8. HENDRICK DE CLERK, BRUXELLES 1570 – 1629 ? L’ADORATION DES MAGES Hendrick de Clerk ; The Adoration of the Magi ; Signed in monogram and dated lower right ; Oil on panel up of five uncradled planks. Monogrammé et daté en bas à droite HDC.1623. Huile sur panneau, cinq planches non parquetées 155 x 118 cm ; 61 by 46 1/2 in. ESTIMATE 180,000-250,000 EUR THIS LOT WAS UNSOLD

This Hendrick de Clerk (above) is wonderfully over the top with its congested composition and the recreation of almost every conceivable surface texture – stone, silk, metal, and plant materials. One wonders how many preparatory studies and drawings were executed before this was finally painted.  Despite the obvious condition issues, this is a winner.

Lot 13. PIETER BRUEGHEL LE JEUNE, BRUXELLES 1564 – 1637/8 ANVERS, LA TRAPPE AUX OISEAUX Pieter Brueghel the younger ; The birdtrap ; Oil on panel, unframed. Huile sur panneau, agrandi d’une bande d’un centimètre dans la partie basse, sans cadre 39,4 x 57 cm ; 15 1/2 by 22 1/2 in. ESTIMATE 500,000-700,000 EUR FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM €684,750

The Brueghels collectively are omnipresent in Old Master sales much as Warhol is today in Post War and Contemporary sales.  As we know form the Brueghel Enterprises exhibition catalogue, there are “[n]o fewer than 127 versions” of Pieter the Younger’s  The Bird Trap (above), though only 45 are considered autograph by Bureghel expert Klaus Ertz. Another version just sold in New York (de-assessioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art) for a hammer price of $340,000 ($410,500 with buyer’s premium).  The subject refers to precariousness and ephemerality — just as the unsuspecting birds, pecking at seeds, could suddenly become trapped, so too can the skaters blithely gliding along on the ice suddenly fall in.

Lot 14. CHRISTIAN-GEORG SCHÜZ, FLÖRSHEIM 1718 – 1791 FRANCFORT, VUE DE FRANCFORT. Christian-Georg Schüz ; View of Frankfurt ; Signed and dated lower centre on the barrel; Oil on canvas. Signé et daté en bas au centre sur le tonneau SCHÜZ. F./ 1754. Huile sur toile 51 x 119,5 cm ; 20 by 47 in. ESTIMATE 40,000-60,000 EUR FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM €120,750

This 18th century view of Frankfurt is an interesting panoramic genre picture.  The detail below show an elegance and precision in execution, and an evident love for the subject matter.

Lot 14. Detail.

Next up is a decorative pair by Francesco Zuccarelli.  Both have obvious condition issues, but they deserve a conservator’s care as they are splendid, bucolic, and well executed. Already one can see a test cleaning of a bird in the sky in the first canvas (immediately below), reveals a bright blue sky beneath the dirty varnish.

Lot 43. FRANCESCO ZUCCARELLI
PITIGLIANO, UMBRIA 1702 – 1788 FLORENCE, PAYSAGES DE LA CAMPAGNE VÉNITIENNE ANIMÉS DE PAYSANS, Francesco Zuccarelli ; Landscape in the Veneto with figures conversing and resting ; Oil on original canvas, a pair ; Unframed; 2.0, Huile sur toile d’origine, une paire, sans cadre, 72,5 x 55,3 cm ; 28 1/2 by 21 3/4 in, ESTIMATE 30,000-50,000 EUR THIS LOT IS UNSOLD
One of two.

Lot 43. FRANCESCO ZUCCARELLI
PITIGLIANO, UMBRIA 1702 – 1788 FLORENCE, PAYSAGES DE LA CAMPAGNE VÉNITIENNE ANIMÉS DE PAYSANS, Francesco Zuccarelli ; Landscape in the Veneto with figures conversing and resting ; Oil on original canvas, a pair ; Unframed; 2.0, Huile sur toile d’origine, une paire, sans cadre, 72,5 x 55,3 cm ; 28 1/2 by 21 3/4 in, ESTIMATE 30,000-50,000 EUR THIS LOT WAS UNSOLD
Two of two.

Over at Christie’s on June 21, along with that wonderful Han Rottenhammer of The Feast of the Gods: The Marriage of Bacchus and Ariadne, there are a couple of painting worth examining.

Lot 24. JAN BRUEGHEL L’ANCIEN (BRUXELLES 1568-1625 ANVERS), Un marché au village, huile sur cuivre 25,8 x 35,5 cm. THE RETURN OF THE MARKET, OIL ON COPPER, BY JAN BRUEGHEL THE ELDER. Estimate: €300,000 – €500,000 ($375,061 – $625,101) FINAL PRICE INCLUDING BUYER’S PREMIUM €1,274,600

Once again back to the omnipresent Brueghels, though this one is by Jan the Elder, who was known for his creativity (while Pieter the Younger was known for his repetition). This delicious tableaux is a wonderful time capsule rich in narrative detail, which should be all the more pleasing once the dirty varnish is removed.

Lot 24. Detail.

Lot 9 PHILIP VAN DYCK (AMSTERDAM 1680-1753 LA HAYE), L’Adoration des bergers 
signé ‘P:van Dyk […]’ (en bas à gauche), huile sur cuivre, 56,7 x 45,5 cm. THE ADORATION OF THE SHEPHERDS, OIL ON COPPER, SIGNED BY PHILIP VAN DYK. Estimate: €8,000 – €12,000 ($10,002 – $15,002) THIS LOT WAS UNSOLD

Here’s a work by a minor painter.  It’s difficult to tell exactly what the surface anomalies are — there appear to be some minor losses and the varnish is filthy, but the cause of the ashiness over the figure of St. John the Baptist is unknown. There’s an appealing delicacy to the treatment of the Madonna and a nice, circular composition around the Christ child also has a quiet dignity.  This is, however, a large work and its appeal may diminish when it’s seen at scale.  Not much appears in a Google search about the artist.  However, in A Text-Book of the History of Painting, first issued in 1894, the author, Rutger’s art history professor John van Dyke was about as dismissive as one could be about this artist:

EIGHTEENTH CENTURY: This was a period of decadence during which there was no originality worth speaking about among the Dutch painters. Realism in minute features was carried to the extreme, and imitation of the early men took the place of invention. Everything was prettified and elaborated until there was a porcelain smoothness and a photographic exactness inconsistent with forceful art. Adriaen van der Werff (1659-1722) and Philip van Dyck (1680-1753) with their “ideal” inanities are typical of the century’s art. There was nothing to commend it. The lowest point of affectation had been reached.

Ouch!

Lot 9. Detail.

Lot 9. Detail.

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