Carter B. Horsley
Spring 2009 auction of
Antiquities at Sotheby's has been combined with its spring auctions
of Old Master Paintings and European Sculpture June 4, 2009.
Antiquities section is
highlighted by some lovely small Roman marble portrait sculptures
and a large Roman marble head of a caryatid.
Masters section of
the auction is highlighted by some major paintings inexplicably
being deaccessioned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
combined sections sold
64.9 percent of the 154 offered lots for a total $14,223,575,
very close to the $14,500,000 high pre-sale estimate.
the smallest items in
the Antiquities section of this auction, Lot 144, is also one
of the loveliest. It is a 2 3/8-inch high marble head of Isis
or a Ptolemaic Queen. The Hellenistic Greek work dates to the
3rd Century/2nd Century B.C. It comes from the estate of Henri
de France (1909-1999), the former head of La Maison de Franc and
pretender to the throne, who received the title of Comte de Paris
in 1929. According to the catalogue, he married his cousin Isabelle
d'Orleans-Bragance in Palermo in 1931. Following the repeal of
the French exile law in 1950 the count and countess returned to
France and in 1974 inspired by an exhibition at the "Archives
Nationales de Paris," the Comte and Comtesse de Paris set
up their own foundation, "Fondation Sant-Louis," to
which they entrusted their family residences and treasures. The
lot has a modest estimate of $5,000 to $8,000. It sold for
6,250 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned
in this article.
One of the most spectacular and
in the exhibition and a very classic antiquity because of its
ruined yet still beautiful condition, Lot 113 is a large marble
head of a caryatid, late Hellenistic/early Roman Imperial, circa
1st Century B.C. It is 14 inches high. The female head's centrally
parted wavy hair is bound in a chignon and falls in long twin
curls down the sides of her neck and is surmounted by an intricately
wound turban, and she wears fan-shaped earrings and has a broad
disk on top of her head for attachment of a basket or vessel,
according to the catalogue. The lot has an estimate of $150,000
to $250,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 143 is a very fine small
head of Asklepios from the 2nd/3rd Century A.D. It is 3 1/8 inches
high and has a estimate of $5,000 to $8,000. It sold for
Lot 15 is a very fine and
Roman Imperial torso of a god or hero that is 18 inches high.
It is dated circa 2nd Century A.D. It comes from the Dorotheum
in Vienna and has an estimate of $50,000 to $80,000. It sold
Lot 112 is an impressive and
fine Roman Imperial
portrait bust of a lady. It is Late Augustan, Early 1st Century
A.D. It is 16 inches high and has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.
It failed to sell. It was formerly mounted on a 19th Century
variegated red and white marble circular socle with quadrangular
plinth and the nose had been restored in marble.
is an impressive Roman
Imperial marble sarcophagus relieg fragment depicting the two
horses of Selene. Executed circa the first half of the 3rd Century
A.D., it is 18 by 16 1/2 inches. The catalogue notes that it likely
came from a large sarcophagus that depicted an episode fronm the
myth of Endymion, in which the moon goddess Selene descends from
her chariot and diiscovers the young shepherd asleep in a cave
on Mount Latmos and fell in love with him and he chose to sleep
for ever, remaining deathless and ageless. The lot has an estimate
of $100,000 to $150,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 107 is a Roman Imperial
bronze figure of
a warrior circa 2nd Century A.D. It is 8 1/8 inches high and is
missing its right arm, its right leg and its left foot. It has
an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $11,500.
Lot 149 is a tall Hellenistic
of Aphrodite, circa 1st Century B.C. It is 17 1/8 inches high
and has an estimate of $5,000 to $8,000. It sold for $25,000.
Lot 131 is a graceful and
dramatic large Byzantine
mosaic panel depicting a leaping leopard from Syria circa 5th/6th
Century A.D. It measures 45 by 69 1/4 inches. It has an estimate
of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $68,500.
Lot 96 is a "monumental"
Egyptian head of King Nectanebo II, who reigned gfrom 360-342
B.C. It is 15 1/2 inches high and belonged to Thomas Herbert,
8th Earl of Pembroke (1656-1733), Wilton House, Wiltshire, England.
The catalogue indicateds that the head probably came from a sphinx
wearing the nemes headcloth. It has an estimate of $600,000 to
$900,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 130 is a Sumerian gypsum
figure of a worshipper.
It is Early Dynastic Period, circa 2700-2500 B.C. and 12 1/2 inches
high. It has an estimate of $125,000 to $175,000. It was once
in the Erlenmeyer Foundation collection. It failed to sell.
Lot 100 is a good Egyptian
bronze figure of
Osiris with the name Hornefer from the 26th/30th Dynasty, 664-342
B.C. It is 10 1/2 inches high and has an estimate of $20,000 to
$30,000. It sold for $25,000.
is a large oil of panel
of "The Adoration of the Magi" by Pieter Brughel the
Younger (1564-1637/8). It measures 44 by 62 5/8 inches and has
an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $842,500.
The catalogue entry notes that Dr. Klaus Ertz confirms that
the painting is by Brueghel the Younger adding that "of the
21 or 23 versions of this painting that Klaus Ertz lists in his
catalogue raisonné of the artist, until now only the painting
in the Philadelphia Museum of Art...has been universally accepted
as autograph, adding that the Philadelphia picture is painted
on canvas and is of such high quality that it was considered the
work of Pieter Brueghel the Elder until 1965.
catalogue also notes that
"here the prototype is generally thought to be a painting
in tempera on linen in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts,
Brussels," adding that "most commentators have accepted
it as an original work by Brueghel the Elder dated to 1555-57,
but it is difficult to evaluate because it is in fragile condition
and has suffered from water damage."
Lot 11 is a good North
oil on panel of "The Circumcision in The Temple." It
measures 19 1/4 by 10 5/8 inches and is dated to the 16th Century.
It is one of many works in this auction that are being sold by
the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to benefit future acquisitions.
It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 20 is a far more important
from the same museum, a lovely and very fine oil on canvas laid
down on panel by Gerard Ter Borch (1617-1681). Entitled "The
Card Players," it measures 18 3/8 by 14 1/2 inches and any
museum in the world would be proud to own it. It has an estimate
of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $1,594,500. It
bought in 1877 by Alphonse, Gustave, Edmond, Lionel and Ferdinand
de Rothschild and has been widely exhibited and published. The
catalogue notes that the painting is datable to "circa 1659
and exemplifies his paintings of the period, which are notable
for their drapery, elegant forms and tantalizing ambiguity."
"The 1650s and early 1660s," the catalogue entry continued,
"were a time during which he was instrumental in developing
a new type of genre painting, set in fashionable interiors and
focusing on the social life of the haute bourgeoisie."
Another major Los Angeles
is Lot 14, "A Woman Handing a Coin to a Serving Woman with
a Child," by Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684). An oil on canvas,
it measures 28 3/4 by 26 inches and has an estimate of $400,000
to $600,000. It sold for $1,650,500. It and the Ter
were given to the museum by Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Balch in 1944
and it has been widely exhibited and published.
The Los Angeles museum is also
seeing Lot 18,
"The Twelfth Night by Jan Havicksz. Steen (1626-1679), an
oil on canvas that measures 26 1/4 by 33 inches. It was given
to the museum by Marion Davies in 1955. It has a modest estimate
of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $674,500.
Yet another Los Angeles
deaccession is Lot
15, a very large and impressive portrait of a woman and her two
children that is attributed to Gaspar de Crayer (1684-1669) but
would appear as a fine Van Dyck in any many countryhouse to most
observers. It was acquired in 1934 as by Cornelis de Vos by William
Randolph Hearst who gave it to the museum in 1950. An oil on canvas,
it measures 91 by 51 1/2 inches. It has an estimate of $60,000
to $80,000. It sold for $43,750.
Lot 19 is a Los Angeles Museum
"Head of a Bearded Man" by Sir Peter Paul Rubens. An
oil on panel, it measures 26 by 20 inches. It has an estimate
of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $842,500. It
widely exhibited and published and is painted on three joined
oak plants, two from the same tree. The catalogue notes that the
work "is very closely related, in terms of subject and technique,
to a panel in the Collections of the Prince of Lichtenstein in
Vaduz. The catalogue notes that this painting was attributed to
Van Dyck by Michael Jaffé in a 1966 book but that R. Baumstark
disputed "that attribution."
The museum consigned
14 works and the group
brought a total of $5.8 million, double the pre-sale high estimate.
co-chair of the Old Master
Paintings Department Worldwide, said after the auction that he
was "very pleased with today's results," adding that
"we worked incredibly hard to keep the offering small and
focused on quality and managed, in numerous cases, to find not
just one bidder, but multiple bidders." "While many
of the top lots were in the end purchased by dealers, in each
case there was aggressive competition from private collectors
which is very encouraging. Our formula of offering Old Master
paintings and European Works of Art alongside Antiquities was
a success - the works looked great together and we saw significant
crossover in the bidding, including the bidders for the top selling
Antiquity." Richard M. Keresy and Florent Heintz, experts
in charge of the antiquities sale, said they were "encouraged
by the number of new buyers in the salesroom."
Lot 12 is being sold by the
museum as "Portrait
of a Young Man," by Netherlandish School, early 16th Century.
An oil on paper laid down on panel, it measures 16 1/4 by 12 1/2
inches. W. Valentiner attributed it in 1927 to Joos van Cleve
and M. J. Friedlander published it in 1972 as by van Cleve. It
is quite fine and has a modest of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold
Lot 33 is a oil on canvas of
of St. Thomas" by Sir Anthony van Dyck and Studio. It measures
49 3/4 by 44 1/4 inches and the heas of two of the figures appear
to have over zealously cleaned at some point in an otherwise very
tight and well painted composition. The catalogue notes that it
"repeats the composition, with slight differences, of a work
by van Dyck in the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersurg and
that it is in a gilt frame by Fratelli Pacetti of Florence, famous
framemakers who here derived the decoration from the Baptistery
doors of Florence. The lot has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.
It sold for $374,500.
Lot 70 is an impressive French
figure of Saint John that is 50 inches high. It has an estimate
of $15,000 to $25,000. It sold for $28,125.
Lot 84 is a sunning silver and
group of Raphael and Tobias that is attributed to Lorenzo Vaccaro
(1655-1706). It is 19 3/4 inches high. It has an estimate of $30,000
to $50,000. It sold for $31,250.