High priced Raphael and Steen lead Sotheby’s Dec. 2012 Old Masters sale – UPDATED with sale results
UPDATE – The Raphael drawing was the highlight of Sotheby’s £58,061,500 evening sale of Old Masters, soaring past its £10-15 million estimate to reach £29,721,250 (including the buyer’s premium – nearly $47.9 million), following 17 minutes of bidding according to the New York Times. Bloomberg has additional information about the sale. Sotheby’s has also released a video with highlights from the sale. The Telegraph’s Colin Gleadell has a very good write up of the Sotheby’s and Christie’s sales.
ORIGINAL POST – Sotheby’s Dec. 2012 Old Masters sale has plenty of lots with multi-million pound estimates (unlike arch rival Christie’s). The sale’s big get is the final lot of this 51-lot sale, a Raphael drawing of the head of an apostle from the collection at the venerable and archetypal English Country House, Chatsworth. Other Chatsworth lots include sets of 15th century Netherlandish illuminated manuscripts.
Sale highlights include this Pieter Brueghel the Younger wedding procession.
The very severe Steen carries a rather bombastic estimate:
According to the lot notes, the saying on the placard translates as the following: “Three things I desire and no more/ Above all to love God the Father/ Not to covet an abundance of riches/ But to desire what the wisest prayed for/ An honest life in this vale/ In these three all is based” There is a video about the picture (if you’re so inclined).
Also on deck are four paintings from a passion cycle by the peripatetic 14th century Italian artist Niccolo di Pietro Gerini. They’re large (each about 3 by 3 feet), on linen (a rarity according to the catalogue), and intricately detailed.
According to the catalogue:
These four paintings are the only known surviving examples of an Italian 14th-century narrative cycle painted on a linen fabric support. They almost certainly formed part of a larger series representing The Passion of Christ. The scenes from the Passion were normally depicted either as single, separate subjects or as cycles of consecutive scenes; their portrayal made popular in the 13th century by the Franciscan and Dominican orders. The Passion is thought to begin with The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem and to end with The Descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, with interim scenes consisting of any of the following; The Last Supper, Christ Washing the Feet, The Agony in the Garden, The Betrayal of Christ, The Denial of Saint Peter, The Trial of Christ, The Mocking of Christ, The Flagellation, The Crowning with Thorns, Ecce Homo, Christ on the Road to Calvary, The Stations of the Cross, Christ stripped of His Garments, The Raising of the Cross, The Crucifixion, The Descent from the Cross, The Pietà, Bearing the Body of Christ, The Entombment, The Descent of Christ into Limbo, The Resurrection, The Holy Women at the Sepulchre, Christ appearing to His mother, Noli me tangere, the Road to Emmaus, The Supper at Emmaus, The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, and The Ascension. Since the number of episodes varies greatly from one cycle to another, it is difficult to ascertain how many paintings there may have been in the series to which these four canvases originally belonged and no other canvases from the series have come to light. Although individually they are four of the most frequently depicted subjects – Christ washing the Feet of the Disciples, The Betrayal of Christ (or The Kiss of Judas), The Mocking of Christ and The Flagellation – the proximity in the chronology of the last two scenes would suggest that it is unlikely that the canvases stood alone, without being part of a larger decorative and iconographic scheme.
For those needing a buccolic image of pre-embankment Rome, Vanvitelli has just the image:
Also of interest:
According to the lot notes:
The view depicted shows the old Stocks Market, on the site of modern day Mansion House and the Bank of England. Originally established for the sale of meat and fish during the reign of Edward I, prior to which a pair of stocks had stood on the site which gave the marketplace its name, by the early eighteenth century the market had mainly been given over to the sale of herbs. In the background can be seen the spire of St. Stephen’s Walbrook, whilst the centre foreground is dominated by the impressive marble equestrian statue which was originally intended as a monument to John Sobieski, the Polish king who saved Vienna from the Turks. The statue was altered soon after the Restoration by Jasper Latham, Sir Christopher Wren’s master mason, to depict Charles II trampling on the defeated Cromwell, and the Royal arms can be seen engraved in an escutcheon on the base. The market and the jumble of buildings surrounding it to the east of Poultry were cleared in 1738 to make way for the construction of Mansion House, designed by the architect George Dance. The market was moved to Farringdon Street, where it became known as Fleet Market, and the statue of Charles II, which had been donated to the parish of St. Stephen’s Walbrook by Sir Robert Viner, Lord Mayor of London, in 1672, was presented by the city to his descendant Robert Viner, and later removed to Newby Hall in Yorkshire. Below the mounted figure of the King the busy street life of London, with its coffee shops, food sellers, street hawkers and all the panoply of the city life is painted in minute and compelling detail. The figures give an idea of the whole spectrum of London society, from gentlemen of fashion and noblemen in their carriages, to the urban poor, domestic servants and street sellers, all depicted with a realism and characterisation that suggests Nickolls was inspired by the work of William Hogarth, with its complex interaction between high and low culture.