Three of Apollo’s Acquisitions of the Year
The art publication Apollo has a compiled a list of more than three dozen acquisitions of the year, several of which have appeared in previous entries in this blog. Among them, the sensational left wing of a diptych by Giovanni da Rimini that was sold at Sotheby’s July 2014 Old Masters sale in London. An export hold was imposed to prevent the work from leaving the UK, and one year later it was announced that the painting would become part of the National Gallery in London’s collection courtesy a donation from Ronald Lauder. As a museum statement at the time noted of the panel’s significance:
Scenes from the Lives of the Virgin and other Saints – which is in excellent condition for a work over 700 years old – unites the exquisite detail of late Byzantine icons with a new, more expressive style. Its inclusion in the collection will allow the National Gallery for the first time to demonstrate to its visitors a key moment in European art, when Western painting (as we now know it) with its emphasis on observation and realism, was born.
Among the other works on Apollo’s list is this Jacob Ochtervelt that was sold at Sotheby’s January 2014 sale of Old Masters in New York. The work was purchased by London-based dealer Johnny van Haeften who featured it at TEFAF in Maastricht, the Netherlands, with an asking price of $.7.5 million. In October 2015, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC announced it had acquired the picture.
The Rijksmuseum made a major acquisition with the addition of an Adrien de Vries’ bronze figurative sculpture that had been missing for some 300 years. A Bronze Bacchic Figure Supporting the Globe from 1626 sold at Christie’s December 2014 Exceptional Sale for a record $27.88 million (against a presale estimate of $15-25 million), establishing a new world record for the so-called “Dutch Michelangelo.”
The sale catalogue said of the work’s history:
The recent discovery of this Bacchic Figure Supporting the Globe is a hugely signifcant event, bringing to light, as it does, a major, unrecorded bronze executed in the fnal year of the life of its creator, Adriaen de Vries. The bronze stood unrecognised atop a column in the centre of a pool in a schloss courtyard for at least 300 years where it is recorded in an engraving of circa 1700. Although, in his maturity, Adriaen de Vries was considered to be the most important sculptor working in bronze in all of Europe, his celebrity rapidly declined after his death.
And of the work’s iconography:
The iconography of this bronze group is unusual in that it appears to include elements from more than one mythological narrative. A male fgure carrying a globe immediately suggests Atlas or Hercules, although both these fgures are normally represented as more mature men with beards. The grapevines on the tree stump and the pan pipes are associated with Bacchus and his cult, but there is nothing among the stories of Bacchus that includes a globe. One could argue that it represents an unusual confation of the stories of Hercules Supporting the Globe and Hercules at the Crossroads. In this interpretation the pan pipes and grapes represent the path of sin and indulgence, while the wreath in the fgure’s hair could be a victor’s wreath, having chosen the path of righteousness.