Nadia de Navarro-Farber was born in Pleven, Bulgaria. During her
successful career as a musical comedy star in Bulgaria and Hungary, she
starred on stage and in movies, lending her particular brand of grace
and charisma to the silver screen. Thereafter, she married a Spanish
count who was a diplomat to the Vatican; the couple soon took up
residence in Monte Carlo, where they lived until the Count’s death in
"The Countess subsequently moved to New York, where she began a new chapter in her life as a philanthropist. She met Sid Farber, then just launching his home development company, through friends while lunching at the Plaza Hotel. The two wed in 1953, and settled in Glen Head on Long Island, where they ran their business building over 30,000 homes in the area. The Farbers became active philanthropists and were principal patrons of the John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson. In 1990, the countess received the Theodore Roosevelt Award for pledging a $1 million donation in memory of her late husband. "The two things we need to support most in order for our community to thrive are our schools and our hospitals. Without the hospitals we are a family without a home," she said on the occasion. On December 15, 1991, the fourth major expansion of Mather Hospital was completed with the dedication of the new Contessa Nadia Farber Emergency Pavilion.
"The countess did not limit herself to helping those closest to home. A master of eight languages, she was an active member of charitable and humanitarian organizations crossing geographical, ethnic and religious lines across the globe, including the Hebrew Immigrants Aid Society (HIAS), the Venezuelan Charity for Immigrants, the Red Cross in Monaco, The American Hospital in Paris, the Children Orphanage in Venice, as well as many others.
"In addition to her humanitarian interests, the countess was a discerning and passionate connoisseur of the arts. Soon after she wed Sid Farber, the couple started their art collection, through which they nurtured their preference for the Italian High Renaissance and Post-Impressionist periods. Their collection was exhibited in the Palazzo Reale, Milan, for two months under the title, Arte Europea da una Collezione Americana in 1964.
"Among the many accolades the Countess received, highlights include the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 1996 (shared with Governor Pataki); special Congressional recognition in 1998; the Gold Medal from the French Academy of Arts, Sciences and Letters; and the Silver Medal from the City of Paris. She was also inducted into the Order of Malta, the Order of St. Sepulchre, and the Order of St. Sava from King Peter of Yugoslavia.
"The Countess died shortly after the masterpiece of her collection, Marco d’Oggiono’s Madonna of the Violets [see below] was included in the historic Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan exhibition at The National Gallery, London, in 2011-2012, a wonderful coda to her remarkable life."
"Of the several versions that exist of this composition, the best two examples, in addition to the present work, are the tondos in the National Gallery, London and Amgueddfa Cymru - the National Museum Wales, Cardiff. All three versions exhibit differences, particularly in their landscapes. In both the London and Wales versions, the Christ Child rests on sheaves of wheat which do not properly support his head, leaving those compositions somewhat unresolved. Here, the artist more satisfactorily creates a makeshift cradle out of a pile of carved stone fragments and the Virgin’s robes. In addition, whereas in the other two somewhat smaller paintings, the Virgin’s hair is nearly entirely covered by her shawl, here her golden locks spill over her shoulders, with only a single braid at the top of her head covered by a transparent veil to preserve her modesty. Lionello Venturi considered this to be an autograph work, executed between 1480 and 1490, writing that 'the face of the Madonna is one of the most glamorous achievements of Botticelli' (written communication, 26 October 1949), and related the ruined masonry in the background to Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks. Wilhelm R. Valentiner dated it to 1485-1490 (written communication, 2 April 1951)."
It has a modest estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $785,000 including the buyer's premium as so all results mentioned in this article.
The sale total was $30,476,500 with 18 of
the 65 offered lots failing to sell.
The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:
serene Holy Family demonstrates
the soft brushwork, sophisticated treatment of light, and subtle
modeling associated with the late work of Giovanni Bellini and his
workshop, as seen, for instance, in his Noah (Musée des
beaux-arts, Besançon) and his Circumcision (National Gallery,
London). Indeed, Bernard Berenson published this painting as an
autograph work in his Italian Painting of the Renaissance (op.
cit.). Fritz Heinemann knew the painting only from a photograph,
and judged it to be of high quality “di buona qualità” but was
unable to decide whether it was by Bellini himself (loc. cit.).
Wilhelm Suida viewed the painting in Venice in 1937, and considered it
to be one of the last Madonnas the artist ever painted, and its
autograph status was similarly endorsed by Lionello Venturi and Wilhelm
R. Valentiner (see Milan, loc. cit.). In an unpublished letter
dated 31 May 1947, Ridolfo Pallucchini noted the monumentality of the
present composition, stating that he considered it to be a work from
Bellini’s last period, datable to around 1510 based on comparison to
the Madonna and Child in the Detroit Institute of Arts (dated
1509) and the Madonna and Child in the Brera, Milan (dated
1510). Pallucchini further noted that the painting’s landscape reflects
the influence of Giorgione. The design of the Christ Child, who
gestures in benediction while
sitting on his mother’s lap, must have been favored by Bellini, as the
figure appears in other works produced by members of his workshop, such
as the Virgin and Child with Four Saints and a Donor of c.
attributed to Marco Bello (c. 1470-1523) in the Morgan Library, New
York. Another version of the entire composition, which replicates the
landscape and includes an additional figure of Saint Catherine standing
behind the Virgin, is recorded in a photograph in the Fondazione
Federico Zeri archives (no. 28333). That painting, the location of
which is unknown, was attributed by Zeri to Bellini’s workshop.
It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000.
It failed to sell.
Lot 141 is a very beautiful painting that is very close in style and technique to Leonardo and is known as "The Madonna of the Violets." It is an oil on panel transferred to canvas and measures 22 1/2 by 16 3/4 inches.
The catalogue entry states that it is by Marco d'Oggiono (?Milan circa 1467-1524).
Its provenance includes Joseph, Cardinal Fesch (1763-1839) of the Palazzo Falconieri in Rome who maintained it was by Bernardino Luini, the Rev. Walter Davenport Bromley of Wootton Hall, Staffordshire, who sold it at Christie's in London in 1863 as by Leonardo, Stanley Mortimer of New York who acquired it at the Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York in1944 as the Milanese Master of the Circle of Leonardo da Vinci, Jacob Heimann of Los Angeles, and probably French and Co.in New York who sold it in 1960 to the Countess Nadia de Navarro.
literature attributed it to Leonardo until 1989 when it was attributed
to Marco d'Oggiono by D. Sedini.
It was exhibited as a Leonardo at the Los Angeles County Museum in 1949 and was also shown at the National Gallery of Art in London in 2012.
The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:
tinged with melancholy characterizes this moving depiction of the
Madonna and Child seated before a marble parapet. Mary gazes lovingly
at her son, her delicate features highlighted by the dark cloth that
serves as a backdrop for the pair. Christ returns his mother’s stare,
but while his twisting body speaks of a child’s restless energy, his
eyes convey seriousness mingled with grief, thus revealing his
awareness of his fate. Clutched in his right hand are a few violets, a
symbol of humility associated with his Incarnation as well as the
Crucifixion. Their purplish hue echoes the blue tonalities of the
landscape visible beyond the gathered curtain, where a placid lake
gives way to mountains steep enough to graze the clouds.
Marco d’Oggiono’s composition is deeply indebted to Leonardo da Vinci’s pen-and-ink drawing of the The Virgin and Child with a cat of about 1480 (fig. 1; Uffizi, Florence). Here, the unconventional feline attribute is replaced by more traditional violets, but the positional and psychological relationship of mother and child clearly owes much to the master’s haunting figures. The smoky modeling, known as sfumato, as well the skillful rendering of the feather-light, transparent veils reveal an intimate knowledge of Leonardo’s style. Gustav Waagen even went so far as to describe the present painting as a “very beautiful picture” from the “early part of Leonardo’s residence in Milan” (loc. cit., 1865). The 19th-century scholar later linked our Madonna of the Violets to The Madonna Litta (fig. 2; The State Hermitage, St. Petersburg), which he also considered an autograph work by the Florentine master. The latter painting is now usually given to one of Leonardo’s pupils - with Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio as a favored candidate - and shares much in common with the present work, such as the heightened plasticity of the Christ Child and the mountainous landscape enveloped in a bluish haze. In fact, David Alan Brown has proposed that the most plausible author of The Madonna Litta was not Boltraffio but rather Marco d’Oggiono himself, who appears to have already been working in Milan as a master with his own shop by 1487, when he is documented as having taken on an apprentice (see D.A. Brown, op. cit., pp. 25-34). Marco was living with Leonardo by September 1490 – on the 7th of that month, according to Leonardo’s memoranda, he fell victim to another member of the master’s workshop, the notorious Salaì, who stole Marco’s silverpoint stylus. In developing his theory about The Madonna Litta, Brown followed Wilhelm Suida, who also singled out Marco d’Oggiono as the author of The Madonna of the Violets in 1949, adding however that “the soft shadow and utmost refinement in the modeling of the Virgin’s head indicate Leonardo’s participation in this exquisite work” (loc. cit.).
Suida’s suggestion of Leonardo’s involvement in the execution of this painting, while no longer supported, points to the high quality of the picture both in terms of its formal arrangement and mysterious mood. Comparison of the Madonna of the Violets with Marco’s sole documented painting of the 1490s, The Grifi Altarpiece (a joint 1491 commission with Boltraffio by the brothers of the late Archbishop Leonardo Grifi for the chapel of San Leonardo in San Giovanni sul Muro, Milan) reveals strong affinities between the infant and adult Christ’s facial types (see Syson et al., op. cit., no. 65). Similarly full, pouting mouths and intensely modeled eyes that possess a slightly sunken quality occur in Marco’s Portrait of a Man aged 20 (the so-called “Archinto Portrait”, National Gallery, London; fig. 3) of 1494 as well as in his Saint John the Baptist of c. 1498-1500 (National Trust, Knightshayes Court, Devon). The latter’s contemplative mood and rich palette, dominated by ruby red and coppery browns, also share much in common with the present painting. Another parallel between The Madonna of the Violets and the Portrait of a Man aged 20 is the marble parapet with mottled earth tones that appears in both works. As for the landscape framing the Virgin and Child, its vast lake and verdant shores at the foot of a mountain range call to mind Marco’s hometown of Oggiono on lake Annone, as Antonio Mazzotta has observed (loc. cit.).
The treasured cornerstone of the De Navarro collection, The Madonna of the Violets had been kept out of the public eye since it was exhibited in Milan in 1964 until its inclusion in the seminal Leonardo retrospective held at the National Gallery, London, in 2011-2012. The painting was already much admired in the 19th century, when it was part of the collection of Napoleon’s uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch in Rome, where it was attributed to Bernardino Luini. It was later acquired by the Rev. Walter Davenport Bromley (1787-1863), whose collection at Wootton Hall was, in the words of Francis Haskell “one of the most distinguished collections in England of early Italian painting” (Rediscoveries in Art, 1980, p. 203, n. 64).
105 is a version of "The Dead Christ" by Andrea Mantegna (Isola di
Carturo 1430-1506 Mantua). A distemper on linen, it measures 26
by 30 1/2 inches and is part of the consignment in this auction from
the Countess Nadia de Navarro who acquired it from French and Co.
Although Tietze accepted it as by Mantegna in 1941, various articles after 1961 suggest it is after Mantegna and it is described at this auction as "circle of Andrea Mantegna."
The catalogue entry provides the
April 1941, Hans Tietze first published this fascinating painting,
suggesting that it might be Andrea Mantegna’s original treatment of his
most famous composition - The Lamentation over the Dead Christ,
now in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan....The theory that the
present painting was a preparatory study, or modello,
for the more developed painting in the Brera had earlier been expressed
in unpublished letters by Adolfo Venturi, Pietro Toesca, Giuseppe
Fiocco, Hermann Voss, Frederick Mason Perkins, Antonio Morassi, Wilhelm
Valentiner, George Martin Richter, Wilhelm Suida, Amadeo Porcella,
Rudolfo Pallucchini and Alfred M. Frankfurter (see Milan, op. cit., p.
6). Erica Tietze-Conrat also believed it to be the original modello,
noting that it “displays the sobriety of a cartoon without any
concession to the public” (loc. cit.).
"Mantegna’s radical treatment of Christ’s body, laid out on a tomb slab and dramatically foreshortened, is generally regarded as his masterpiece. Immensely powerful in its simplicity, the painting presents the viewer with a nude, muscular Christ, whose lower half is draped with a cloth. The Savior’s wounds are on full display, making this a profoundly moving treatment of the Passion. Yet at the same time, Mantegna’s radical use of foreshortening is doubly innovative as it not only demonstrates his technical skill in representing a body’s recession into space, but also reveals how the artist was able to manipulate the body’s proportions to create a more pleasing work of art. Looking closely, one sees that Mantegna reduced the scale of Christ’s feet, which would normally take up most of the lower part of the composition, perhaps to make his painting more decorous. As Keith Christiansen explains, “The key factor in appreciating the enormous influence of the Dead Christ on subsequent generations of artists, from Sodoma to Annibale Carracci, is its manipulation of foreshortening for emotive effect: its fusion of ‘ingegno’ and pictorial content” (op. cit., pp. 155-56).
"It is generally accepted that Mantenga produced more than one version of his foreshortened Dead Christ. Moreover, the early history of the version in the Brera is surprisingly uncertain for such an iconic work in the history of art. “Un Cristo in scurto” (a foreshortened Christ) was listed among the paintings in Mantegna’s house at his death in a letter by the artist’s son Ludovico, written to the Marchese Francesco Gonzaga on 2 October 1506 (for this and the following references, see R. Lightbown, op. cit., pp. 421-422). Ludovico mentioned “quello Cristo in scurto” (that foreshortened Christ) a second time in a letter to Isabella d’Este dated 12 November 1507, describing how he sold it, along with The Introduction of the Cult of Cybele at Rome (London, National Gallery), to Sigismondo Gonzaga, bishop of Mantua. In 1531, the Gonzaga painting became part of the decorations of the apartments in the Castello for the new duchess, Margherita Paleologa, as described by Ippolito Calandra in a 28 October letter that refers to “quello Cristo ch’è in scurto” (that Christ who is foreshortened). Finally, it is last recorded in the Gonzaga collection in 1627, hanging in the Camerino delle Dame of the Palazzo Ducale, listed as “un quadro dipinto: N.S. deposto sopra il sepolcro in scurzo con cornice fregiate d’oro di mano del Mantegna” (a painting: Our Lord placed above the tomb, foreshortened, in a golden frame, by the hand of Mantegna).
"As Tietze rightly observed, there is strong evidence to suggest that the celebrated painting in the Brera is not the painting recorded in these early documents. The Brera acquired its painting in 1824 from the painter Giuseppe Bossi, who had purchased it only seventeen years earlier, though he appears to have known of it as early as 1802 (R. Lightbown, op. cit., p. 421). Prior to Bossi, however, the provenance of the Brera painting is uncertain. Christiansen hypothesized that Bossi could have acquired the painting from the Aldobrandini, since the historic family was selling their collection in Rome at the beginning of the 19th century. A painting whose description perfectly matches that of the Brera Dead Christ was recorded in their 1603 inventory as “un Cristo in scorto su una tavola morto, con due dame che piangono, di mano di Andrea Mantegna” (A foreshortened Christ on a table, dead, with two women who mourn him, by the hand of Andrea Mantegna; K. Christiansen, op. cit., p. 158 note 30; see also E. Rossetti, op. cit., pp. 85-86 and M. Lucco, 2013, loc. cit.). Christiansen further suggested that if Bossi did in fact acquire his painting from the Aldobrandini, then there is 'a strong presumption' that the Brera painting ultimately came from the Este collection in Ferrara (as was the case with the Adoration of the Shepherds in the Metropolitan Museum of Art), and that it may originally have been painted for Ercole d’Este (ibid., pp. 155 and 158 n. 30). Other versions of the Dead Christ appear in 17th-century inventories, although the question of their authorship and relationship to one another must remain open since they are untraced. These include a painting referenced in the 1661 inventory of Cardinal Mazarin’s Parisian palace, and one owned by Charles I and sold at Somerset House in May 1650 (this may be the same painting that was owned by Mazarin), which was also seen in 1665 by Gianlorenzo Bernini during his trip to the court of King Louis XIV (see R. Lightbown, loc. cit. and M. Lucco, 2013, loc. cit.).
"Tietze’s identification of the Navarro Dead Christ as the one cited in Mantegna’s estate inventory hinged on the fact that unlike the 17th century references cited above, the 16th century sources do not make any reference to the three mourners present in the Brera painting. Notably, several scholars from Fiocco to Camesasca found these two additional figures so disturbing as to consider them later additions, although Lightbown and others reject this theory, arguing that the mourners were planned by Mantegna from the beginning. While the origin of the Navarro Dead Christ remains uncertain, it is tempting to wonder whether it preserves Mantegna’s first conception of his masterpiece – a painting which the artist appears to have kept in his personal collection, perhaps for private devotion. This theory is especially intriguing since a notation by Giuseppe Fiocco on the reverse of a photograph of the present painting, preserved in the archives of the Fondazione Cini, Venice, records its provenance as coming from the Canonici collection, in Ferrara, placing it in close proximity to the Este and Aldobrandini families (see G. Agosti, loc. cit.). Now that the Navarro Dead Christ has reemerged after having been unseen by scholars for over sixty years, further study will hopefully cast new light on Mantegna’s most iconic creation."
The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:
"From the time it first reappeared in the 1930s, this stunning Madonna
was considered a work by Gentile da Fabriano, a painter universally
acclaimed as one of the greatest of the early 15th century. Like
Venturi, scholars including Pietro Toesca, Antonio Morassi, Giuseppe
Fiocco, Wilhelm Suida, and Rodolfo Pallucchini (all written
communication, 1930s) endorsed an attribution to Gentile, and compared
the present work to some of that artist's most celebrated pictures. The
similarities to Gentile's art are indeed profound: the richly patterned
surfaces; soft, full faces with dreamy expressions; rhythmic
articulation of the drapery; and attention to detail – particularly in
the millefleur ground beneath the Madonna, which reveals an
understanding of the French and Burgundian illuminations that were so
influential to both artists – all speak to a close connection between
the two painters.
"It is likely, in fact, that Zanino and Gentile met each other in Venice, where the former was working and where the latter spent five years beginning in 1408. Zanino himself was among the most important Venetian painters of the first quarter of the 15th century, and there can be no question that both artists influenced each other. Some of Zanino's illuminations have, for example, been shown to have directly inspired Gentile's early panels, such as the Madonna and Child with Saint Nicholas, Saint Catherine, and a donor (Berlin, Gemäldegalerie; fig. 1). Both Fiocco and Pallucchini dated the present work to Gentile's Venetian period, so clearly understood its connection to Zanino's art even without recognizing the correct attribution. In 2013, Keith Christiansen, to whom we are grateful, proposed an attribution to Zanino di Pietro on the basis of first-hand inspection. Justly reattributed, the present work serves as important evidence of Zanino's connection to, and influence on, Gentile da Fabriano, and counts among the artist's finest surviving panels."
has a modest estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It failed to sell.
The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:
monumentally-scaled painting depicts an early event in the mythological
story of Jason and the Argonauts. The young prince appears at left
wearing a crown and riding a white horse as he departs from his uncle’s
kingdom of Iolcus in search of the Golden Fleece. So as to more clearly
signify to his Renaissance viewers that this is a story from Antiquity,
Parentino transforms the Greek city into Rome by including a broken
arch and a column topped with a pagan statue in the background as well
as the Colosseum at left. The city’s gate, with its marble revetment
and classical ornamentation, reflects Parentino’s fascination with the
ancient world as well as his years of studying inscriptions on Roman
monuments in his native Istria. Jason’s entourage of demigods and
heroes marches forth before him in a frieze-like procession reminiscent
of a Roman profectio.
The muscular figure of Hercules is particularly conspicuous at center,
dressed in the skin of the Nemean Lion and holding a golden standard.
His companions carry four flags, each a different shape but all bearing
the same black and white vertical chevron design which has yet to be
identified. Remarkably, the background at right transitions from the
Ancient Roman countryside to a 16th-century Venetian lagoon, complete
with gondolas and island churches, thereby bringing the narrative from
the distant past into Parentino’s world. Lending immediacy to the
story, this device was meant encourage the viewer to take inspiration
from the virtuous deeds unfolding before him."
The lot has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It failed to sell.
emotionally charged Entombment, early as it is," the entry
continued, "exemplifies so many of the qualities which troubled El
and enthralled his admirers. Imagined with little regard for the
conventions of spatial perspective and Renaissance idealization in the
drawing of face or body, the artist achieves, on a tiny scale, a vision
of remarkable dramatic intensity: the complex knot of protagonists,
rendered in vivid strokes of blues, green, carmines, pinks, greys and
white. In this scene of restless movement enlivened with flickering
accents of light, the action pushed forcefully to the very front of the
picture plane, El Greco, though mindful of his sources, has already
established himself as an independent master in every sense."
estimate is $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $6,100,000.
125 is a fine small altarpiece of "The Madonna and Child Enthroned with
Saints" by Bernardo Daddi (1318-1348). It measures 30 1/8 by 20
1/2 inches and is tempera and old on panel.
The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:
magnificent miniature altarpiece is one of the finest and most
important Trecento pictures to come to auction in the last decade. The
central panel, framed along its upper edge with an ogival molding,
features all the ravishing colors, painstaking attention to pattern and
detail, and tender intimacy which characterize the highest achievements
in Bernardo Daddi’s oeuvre. Described by Richard Offner as ‘certainly
the greatest master in the Florence of his day’, Daddi worked both on a
monumental, Giottesque scale – possibly even collaborating with Giotto
on the decorations of the great Franciscan church of Santa Croce in
Florence – and in a smaller format, producing private devotional
pictures of great delicacy. These paintings, of which the present work
is an exceptionally refined example, led Offner to describe Daddi as
the epitome of what he termed the Florentine “miniaturist tendency,” a
sophisticated style of painting which would become popular, in no small
part due to Daddi’s enormous success, in the 14th century. The
Enthroned Madonna surrounded by saints and angels at the center of
this complex, probably originally conceived as the center of a
triptych, reveals Daddi at his most lyrical and enchanting. The
exquisitely modeled robes range from luxurious blues to cool, sage
greens, to bright vermilion and deep rose, and are characterized by a
consciously exaggerated, lyrical use of line. The background gilding is
equally sumptuous, adorned with elegant punched decorations as well as
sophisticated hand-tooled designs, and the mordant gilding which
embellishes the figures’ robes is applied with similar meticulousness.
The richly embroidered cloth of honor behind the Virgin, which features a pattern common to Persian textiles that had become popular models in Trecento Florentine workshops, is carefully described to indicate its three-dimensionality: the sides are painted in a slightly darker shade to show their recession into space and shadow, and the cloth appears to fall with real weight, gathering in a swollen bunch at the seat of the throne and flowing naturalistically over its edge. The throne itself, meanwhile, is a tour-de-force of painted architecture, featuring a proliferation of fictive moldings and porphyry inlay. Its real, spatial presence is painstakingly delineated, from the carved arms and arches to the twisting florets surmounting the marble structure, and is underscored by the angels at left and right, who delicately grasp its vertical elements. Because he has placed this remarkable structure slightly off-center, Daddi has been careful to reveal a little more of the punched border at upper left than at upper right – most evident in two lone punches between the upper florets of the top of the throne at left. The insistent three-dimensionality of the scene proves that Daddi, even on such an intimate scale, never abandons the solidity of form and monumental figural presence pioneered by Giotto a generation earlier."
of Lot 125
Lot 124 is an oil on panel of "The Crucifixion" that is dated to the early 16th Century by the North Netherlandish School. It measures 33 3/4 by 22 7/8 inches.
The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:
composition of this highly-refined painting is closely related to
Gerard David’s Crucifixion
probably begun after 1502 [in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin]. The two
panels share much in common in terms of their arrangement, with the
outline of the hilly landscape marking a clear separation between the
earthly realm and the heavenly sky occupied by Christ and the angels
(shown flying toward the scene in the Berlin painting). Moreover, in
each case the holy mourners are concentrated to Christ’s right, while
soldiers and mercenary figures appear to his left. The crosses in both
images are virtually identical in terms of their oblique placement as
well as their appearance, down to their knots and exposed bark —a
reference to the Tree of Jesse. These latter two features are unusual
in Netherlandish art, where typically the Virgin and Saint John stand
on opposite sides of the cross, which is perpendicular to the picture
plane. Several other details link the paintings, including the presence
each of a figure in a reddish cloak on a white horse to the right of
the cross, and of another individual with a raised arm riding a rearing
brown steed. Two diminutive female witnesses in white headdresses also
appear in both paintings—between Mary Magdalene and Saint John in
David’s composition, and between these saints and the cross in the
presenting painting. These motifs are treated similarly but not
identically in the two compositions; the small female onlookers in
white, for example, are inverted in each case. As for the rider with a
raised arm, in our panel he virtually buttresses the base of the cross
while in David’s work he appears before a crenellated wall deeper in
the landscape. Such discrepancies speak of a hand comfortable with
adaptation, a fact confirmed by the present painting’s magnificent
under-drawing (fig. 2). Devoid of any trace of pouncing, which would
suggest the use of a cartoon, the under-drawing is remarkable for the
level of detail lavished upon all parts of its composition. Especially
noteworthy is the freely-drawn yet highly controlled hatching and
shading that breathe life into the principle figures and their garments.
In his catalogue, Lorne Campbell argues that the Berlin Crucifixion,
together with the panel of Canon Bernardijn Salviati with Saints
Bernardino, Martin and Donation now in the National Gallery,
London, originally formed a diptych (L. Campbell, National Gallery
Catalogues: The Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Paintings,
London, 1998, pp. 130-32). The altarpiece in question would have been
commissioned in 1501 for the altar of Saints John and Mary Magdalene
that Salviati endowed in that year in the Collegiate Church of St.
Donatian, Bruges. It is possible that the author of the present
painting had occasion to see David’s Crucifixion there,
although it is just as plausible that both panels draw from a common
source that has yet to be identified. The high quality of the present
painting, with its serene palette and myriad expressive touches, lends
itself well to the latter hypothesis."
Lot 136 is an oil on panel of "Susanna and the Elders" by Jan Massys (Antwerp c. 1509 - 1575). It measures 51 3/4 by 32 7/8 inches. It is property from the collection of J. E. Safra.
catalogue entry provides the following commentary.
The lot was an estimate of $1,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $1,205,000.
of Lot 129
"This sumptuously decorated cassone
panel is a rare and important work by Giovanni dal Ponte. The Seven
Virtues was a popular subject for cassoni,
which were often commissioned on the occasion of a marriage celebration
in Renaissance Florence. Charity occupies the center, presumably with
Marcus Amelius Scaurus at her feet. From left to right, the various
Virtues are presented alongside their most notable historical or
mythological exemplar: Fortitude with Hercules; Justice with Trajan;
Faith probably with Marcus Atilius Regulus; Hope with Alexander the
Great; Prudence with Solon; and Temperance with Scipio Africanus. Above
each Virtue and Master, hovering putti animated with
individualized gestures emerge from the sky....The present cassone frontal
entered the prestigious collection
of the American political leader and financier William Collins Whitney
(1848-1904) around 1898, in a sale brokered with the leading Florentine
dealer Stefano Bardini by the architect and decorator Stanford White.
Whitney’s newly acquired fifty-four room New York mansion at 68th
Street and Fifth Avenue was to be renovated, under White’s direction,
with “Old World magnificence”, and our panel was certainly acquired
with this goal in mind. Indeed, photographs of the mansion’s grand
entry hall taken c. 1915-1930 (fig. 2) show the present work in situ
at lower right in the grand entrance hall at Whitney’s new home,
surrounded by tapestries and elegant Italian furnishings.
The lot has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $557,000.
The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:
unpublished and never before offered at auction, this brilliantly
colored panel is among the most recognizable images in the history of
Flemish painting. The vibrant blues and reds of the paint layer – which
remain particularly vivid – lend vital energy to the scene, whose
myriad playful details, bawdy humor, and narrative sensibility make it
as iconic today as it was in the 17th century. Whirling dancers in the
foreground cavort tipsily, enjoying the bagpipe music and festive mood,
a few tipping back large jugs of wine for a swig. Some, carried away,
embrace amorously, while a few men at left, their backs to the viewer,
relieve themselves discreetly at the party’s edge. At center, before a
lavender sheet strung up between two trees, is the focus of all this
revelry: the bride, sitting beneath a makeshift crown that honors her
as 'Queen for a Day,' bemusedly watches guests place coins on the
pewter plate before her. She is surrounded by eager onlookers, who
greedily survey the offerings, and a robed man who diligently records
her gifts. Few details have come down to us regarding the life of
II...., who enjoyed a prolific career and early fame,
eventually overseeing a thriving atelier in Antwerp which included at
least nine pupils....His father was the great Pieter Bruegel I (c.
who achieved renown for his revolutionary landscapes and scenes of
everyday life in the 16th-century Netherlands. His younger brother, Jan
Brueghel I (1568-1625), became a master best known for his elegant,
precisely rendered landscapes and floral still-lifes, of which the most
celebrated were executed on copper. The Brueghel dynasty carried on
well into the 17th century with Jan's son and stepson, the painters Jan
Brueghel II (1601-1678) and David Teniers II (1610-1690). As with many
of Pieter II's works, The Outdoor Wedding Dance belongs to a
tradition largely established by his father, of which a celebrated
example is the Wedding Banquet
in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna....Its combination of landscape
and genre elements, along with the
artist's familiar pathos-imbued depiction of bawdiness in 17th-century
life, explain the great contemporary appeal of The Outdoor Wedding
The composition is known in numerous autograph versions, of which the
earliest-known are signed and dated 1607 (Walters Art Gallery,
Baltimore, inv. 37.364; Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, inv.
8725). The composition of The Outdoor Wedding Dance relates to
an untraced drawing or painting by Pieter Bruegel I, known from an
engraving by Pieter van der Heyden, published by Hieronymus Cock. A
painted panel and a gouache by Jan Breughel I that derive from the same
source are also known (Bordeaux, Musée des Beaux-Arts; Paris, Musée du
Louvre). Pieter II's works featuring this composition can be divided
into two groups: those painted in the same sense as Van der Heyden's
engraving, and those in reverse. The present picture, together with the
majority of autograph versions, belongs to the latter group, all
believed to derive directly from a lost work by Pieter I rather than
from the engraving."
lot has an estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. It failed to sell.
130 is a handsome pair of capriccios by Francesco Guardi
(1712-1793). The oils on panel each measure 8 3/8 by 6 3/4 inches.
The catalogue provides the following commentary:
fresh, intimately-sized panels exemplify the spirited, confident style
of Guardi's full maturity. Charming in their conception and exquisitely
painted, these works, along with a group of similarly-sized pictures
that survive, demonstrate the considerable vogue of these late capricci
among the artist's Venetian patrons. Unlike the more straightforward vedute
prized by foreign collectors, these imaginary compositions revealed
Guardi's power of invenzione
(imagination), and were much admired by locals. As here, such works
often feature diminutive figures in contemporary dress surrounded by
ruined classical or Gothic architectural elements, often at the shore
of the lagoon, and occasionally with a village or glimpse of Venice in
The lot has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $197,000.
113, "Portrait of Joost Aemszoon van der Burch," by Jan Cornelisz.
Vermeyen, oil on panel, 36 7/8 by 30 3/8 inches
Cornelisz. Vermeyen (Beverwijk c. 1500-c. 1559 Brussels)
City Review article on the
Important Old Masters auction at Sotheby's New York Winter 2012
City Review article on the
Important Old Masters auction at Sotheby's Winter 2011
City Review article on the Important Old Masters auction at Sotheby's