painting is first recorded in the English royal collection. It belonged
to King Charles I (1600–1649) and was displayed alongside the King's
most highly prized Titians at Whitehall. It is listed there
in the inventory of 1639 drawn up by Abraham van der Doort, as hanging
in the First Privy Lodging Room: ‘Done by Tichian/ Item the
Picture of St Margarett with a little reed cross in her left hand
triumphing over the Divell Being in a dragons Shape an intire figure
Soe bigg as ye life In a wodden guilded frame’. The Saint
Margaret hung in the principal room of Titians, with the early Pesaro
presented to Peter (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten,
Antwerp) and other remarkable works such as Venus with
an Organist and The Allocution of the Marquis del Vasto to
his Troops (both Prado, Madrid); The Entombment of Christ, The Supper
at Emmaus and the 'Allegory of Alfonso d'Avalos' (all
three now at the Musée du Louvre, Paris); and Woman in a
Fur (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna).
"Soon after the King's execution, the decision was taken by Parliament to sell off his collections. Full inventories were drawn up and valuations given with a view to the money raised from their sale paying off the King's debts. The King's creditors were entitled to acquire pictures; others were paid in goods from Charles's estate. In the case of the Saint Margaret it was sold to John Embry, a royal plumber, whose name appears on the First List of the late King's servants and creditors comprising those most in need. Francis Haskell in his essay on Charles I's collection cites Embry's case as a representative example of a member of the King's retinue who had remained unpaid. The present work, which is listed in an inventory of pictures drawn up in September 1649, was valued at £100. As Haskell describes, Embry was owed £903 and was recompensed only partly in cash. To cover the remaining sum he was allowed to choose pictures to make up the value – among them the present painting of Saint Margaret. According to Nuttall, of the twenty-four pictures given to him as settlement of the debt, the Saint Margaret was the most important. Presumably Embry's objective was then to sell it as quickly as possible and convert it into cash. During the Commonwealth Embry became Oliver Cromwell's Surveyor-General of Works and subsequently, at the Restoration, found himself obliged to defend his position, returning a portion of the pictures to Charles II. The picture is next recorded in Hampshire, in the collection of Richard Norton (d. 1732), though it is not known how he acquired it. He may have inherited it from his grandfather Colonel Norton (d. 1692). The Saint Margaret then entered a British aristocratic collection where it remained until the mid-twentieth century.
"The Saint Margaret is likely to have been begun at the same time as the Prado painting, which is generally recognised as the prime version of the composition and dated to the mid-1560s. Indeed it seems probable that the present work was painted alongside the version now in the Prado, with Titian utilising his workshop to block in areas of the painting but finishing the key areas of the painting himself. The expressive power of Titian’s later style is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than in the lyrical and atmospheric depiction of the city of Venice on fire in the background. On the skyline the campanile of St Mark glows in fiery orange and pinks, whilst the stormy waves of the sea are animated by dark blue and green brushstrokes. In the sky billowing smoke rises upwards to intermingle with the clouds in a passage of painting that presages that of the Impressionists, more than three centuries later.
"The x-radiograph reveals much more vigorous application of paint in places that now appear rather dark and flat, including the area to the left of the head now covered with brown paint, and changes to the structure of the dragon, as well as modifications to the city skyline. A photograph of the painting taken at the time of the Harcourt sale in 1948 shows the larger extent of the canvas at the top edge of the composition before it was reduced, at some point before 1958. The composition was then more closely comparable to that of the Prado version.
"As is characteristic with Titian’s late works, the darker tones, fiery landscape and summary handling of the paint in the present work create a sense of drama that is entirely fitting to the narrative. Margaret of Antioch was a legendry virgin martyr. She refused a proposal of marriage from the prefect of Antioch and was cruelly tortured and imprisoned as a result. Satan allegedly appeared to her in the form of a dragon and devoured her. The cross she held in her hand irritated the monster’s insides and the dragon burst open allowing her to escape unharmed, only to be subsequently decapitated. Panofsky notes that Titian’s decision to depict Saint Margaret and the dragon in an outdoor setting suggests he was using an apocryphal version of the legend.
"Titian’s Saint Margaret is conceived with a profound understanding of the dramatic potential of the scene. She is a triumphant figure whose body, depicted in dramatic contrapposto, fills the entire right-hand side of picture plane, almost touching the right-hand and lower margins. Prof. Paul Joannides has noted Titian's deliberate comparison with Raphael and Giulio Romano's versions of the same subject (Giulio's Saint Margaret was in Venice in the early sixteenth-century, in the collection of Zuananonio Venier, today housed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). Titian's Margaret surpasses the serenity of Giulio's interpretation, which lacks the intensity of expression and setting. Titian's saint is painted in a myriad of colours and her luminous light green tunic with its bright white sleeves and rose pink veil stands out from the more earthy, brown based tones of the rest of the canvas. The dragon that occupies the bottom resister of the canvas is predominantly painted in brown and blackish hues and the only flashes of colour are the strokes of red and white delineating his vicious mouth. The implied movement in Saint Margaret’s twisting body contrasts to the stolidity of the rock face behind her and she emerges from the picture plane as an impressive figure, trampling the dragon underfoot and holding her cross aloft.
"The painting was inspected on 28 September 2012 by Prof. Peter Humfrey and Dr Nicholas Penny. Both believe it to have been painted as a second version of the Prado picture and with a significant degree of studio assistance. Prof. Humfrey saw the painting again in person on 27 October 2017. In his opinion the Saint Margaret is a picture produced under Titian’s direction in his workshop, with the execution largely due to the workshop but parts, such as the landscape in the background, possibly involving the direct involvement of Titian himself. Prof. Joannides inspected the painting on 26 October 2017; he maintains his view, published in 2004, that it is by Titian and his studio. The Royal Collection is currently working on an online reconstruction of the collection of Charles I at Whitehall Palace, which will include the present work. We are grateful to all those cited for their comments. In particular we wish to thank Lucy Whitaker and Niko Munz at the Royal Collection for their help in compiling this catalogue entry."
lot has a modest estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $2,175,000.
"The painting was first published by Friedländer and Rosenberg in 1932, who identified the picture as an early work by Lucas Cranach the Elder and proposed a dating of circa 1510-13. A terminus ante quem is provided by the existence of a copy after Cranach’s original by his pupil Hans Döring, which is signed with his monogram HD and dated 1514, and is today in the Wiesbaden Museum. Cranach is known to have begun to develop his workshop by 1507 and the existence of Döring's copy attests to the practice of pupils copying the master’s originals, although the presence of the signature may have been a requisite to avoid any possible confusion with Cranach’s own or ‘approved’ studio versions.
"In 1976 the present work was published by Koepplin and Falk, who likewise dated it circa 1510-13, and at the time believed it to be the earliest known treatment of the subject of Lucretia by the Elder Cranach. They tentatively associated the work with a possible pendant depicting the Old Testament figure Salome, today hanging in the Museu de Arte Antigua in Lisbon, in which the figure is similarly depicted, half-length (holding the head of Saint John the Baptist on a platter), against a black background, also wearing a choker set with precious stones.
"In early 2012 another early treatment of Lucretia by Cranach the Elder appeared at auction in these rooms. Its dating of around 1509/10 places it as the earliest of Cranach's treatments of the figure of Lucretia. Both that painting and the present Lucretia share a great deal in common in design and handling. Both paintings depict the female heroine three-quarter length, in a similar pose, wearing a fur mantel and holding the dagger to her breast; the physiognomy is far more Italianate and naturalistic than the standard idealised courtly types that would dominate Cranach’s later treatments of the subject, and the features of the distinctive plump, rounded faces are rendered with remarkable detail and precision that suggest the use of real life models and lend a far greater sense of realism to the scene. The artist has made however a number of revisions to the earlier design, which gives the present version a heightened sense of drama and greater sensuality. Most strikingly, Lucretia is depicted with both breasts and the lower part of her midriff exposed, whilst her hair has been tied up and arranged in an elegant plat on her head. The artist has replaced the richly adorned sleeves in the earlier version with a simple white shirt that focuses the viewer on the strong vertical of the exposed body and the drama that is about to unfold. Moreover, Lucretia’s right hand, holding the dagger, has been turned over and her arm bent to give greater vigour and emphasis to the imminent thrust of the sharp blade, thereby heightening further the overall sense of drama.
For Cranach, the figure of Lucretia appears to have represented an embodiment of virtue rather than merely an historical figure. The story is taken from Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita. Lucretia was raped by Sextus Tarquinius, son of the last Roman king Tarquinius Superbus. Although her father and husband swore to avenge her, in order to fully expunge her dishonour, she committed suicide by stabbing herself. According to legend, the horror of the act and her extreme sense of honour spurred the aristocracy to rise up against the monarchy and establish the Roman Republic. She was therefore considered as an exemplar of the virtuous Roman wife and at the court in Wittenberg, with its emphasis of intellect and learning, her conduct was celebrated as one of the antique virtues.
"Cranach’s fascination with the story of Lucretia is attested by the considerable number of treatments of the subject that he painted throughout his long career, with some 35 versions attributed to him or his circle. The present work appears to have enjoyed particular success and is known through numerous copies and derivations. In addition to the 1514 copy by Hans Döring there are workshop versions in the Kunstmuseum, Basel and the Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento. The present work however, along with the earlier known treatment, stand alone as works of singular beauty and refinement within the artist’s numerous essays on the subject, and through the use of life-like models possess a sense of realism that is entirely absent in Cranach’s later treatments from the 1530s and 40s. What is common to all of the great German Renaissance master’s representations of the theme however is that the veneer of decency afforded by the historical subject does little to disguise the deeply erotic overtones of the scenes and it perhaps seems shocking that such images were deemed acceptable at the height of the Reformation and in the Saxon Court where Luther and Cranach lived and enjoyed a close friendship."
lot has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $2,895,000.
"Luther is shown by Cranach in three-quarter profile, the black of his robes and hat set against a deep olive green background. The costume in which he is depicted combines the habit of a monk of the closed Order of Augustinian Friars, which he had joined in Erfurt in July 1505, with the doctoral hat which marked his being made Doctor of Theology at Wittenberg University in 1512. Cranach had very recently showed Luther separately in both guises, the former in front of a recess in an engraving of 1520,1 and the latter in an engraved profile portrait of 1521. Another engraved portrait, closely related to the first of these and showing the thirty-seven year old Luther in head and shoulders format, again dressed as an Augustinian monk but without the niche, also dates from 1520. The date of 1517 which appears in the upper left corner of the present painted panel is a later addition and thus unreliable, and in any case would not fit with what we know of Cranach’s style at that date. Unfortunately the traces of the original date which accompanied Cranach’s serpent device beside the sitter’s shoulder are now too indistinct to shed any further light, but even without a clear date, the close relationship between the three engravings and the painted portrait, together with Luther’s relatively youthful features, all clearly suggest that they were executed within a very short time of each other.
"Despite this short time period, in these early likenesses we can clearly sense a development in Cranach’s depiction of Luther’s features. The painting is closest to the engraved portrait in a recess in terms of its general design, but the features are more rounded and full, the hair longer and the eyebrows more closely defined, with the striking gaunt ascetism and the piercing gaze of the engraving replaced by a more confident demeanour. The features in the painting are in turn leaner and less rounded than those apparent in the engraved profile portrait of 1521, and this suggests it was painted before it. As Koepplin was first to observe, it is more than likely that all of these early likenesses evolved from an original drawing from the life. While any such drawing has since been lost, some idea of its appearance may be gauged from the elaborate and detailed under-drawing that appears on this panel. This is very reminiscent of a life study in its own right and may well have been taken during a portrait sitting. Certainly Cranach does not flinch from a highly objective portrayal of his friend, whose stubble is carefully realised in some detail. As Werner Schade has remarked, ‘In the earliest of the surviving paintings we feel the rawness of the early Luther’.
"A dating for this panel to around 1520 has generally been agreed by scholars. Schade has suggested a date of 1520, while the compilers of the London exhibition catalogue of 2007 propound a similar or slightly earlier dating around 1519–1520. Earlier, at the time of the Basel exhibition in 1974, Koepplin remarked that on purely stylistic grounds a date as late as 1524 – at which point Luther gave up his Augustinian habit – was technically feasible, but he also preferred a date around 1520 or a little later. The present portrait would therefore pre-date Cranach’s next likeness of Luther, the portrait of the reformer in the disguise of Junker Jorg, painted during Luther’s years of refuge in late 1521 or early 1522. As Koepplin observes, the purely bust-length format, omitting the hands, was relatively rare in Cranach’s œuvre, repeated at this date only by the Portrait of the Margrave Kasimir of Brandenburg-Ansbach of 1522 now in Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, and seemingly not taken up again with other sitters until his Portrait of Sigmunt Kingsfelt from the end of the decade now at Compton Verney. By the latter date, however, Cranach had re-visited this bust length pattern for a later portrait type of Luther paired with his wife Katharina von Bora, in which the sitters head is turned more toward the viewer; good examples, dating from 1528, are in the Schlossmuseum in Weimar. By contrast with Cranach’s later portraits of Luther, however, this first painted likeness was not engraved nor much repeated, suggesting a more private or personal commission. An early version of this portrait, unsigned and undated, is preserved in the Lutherhaus in Wittenberg and a later workshop copy was sold in these rooms 7 July 1993, lot 245.
"It is quite conceivable that the date of 1517 that appears on this panel was added simply because it is the most famous date in Luther’s life, the year when he nailed his Theses to the church doors in Wittenberg, a date now generally declared to represent the start of the Protestant Reformation. Even if this date is unreliable, there can be no doubt that this portrait was painted during the most important moments of Luther’s life. On the 31 October 1517, Luther had sent his Ninety-five Theses in a letter to Albert of Brandenburg, Archbishop of Mainz (see lot 27 in this sale). The same day he affixed them to the doors of All Saints Church (and other churches in the city) in accordance with university custom, for by this time Luther was Professor of Moral Theology at the University of Wittenberg. The Ninety-five Theses were written in protest against the contemporary practice of the Church for selling indulgences, by which the faithful might purchase a temporal remission of sin and thus avoid time in purgatory for their souls. More recently, that same year Pope Leo X had sanctioned indulgences to be sold to raise money for the construction of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Luther would also have been especially aware of those then being sold by Albrecht of Brandenburg in order to pay for his elevation to the Archbishopric, not to mention his encouragement of the local practice, whereby an indulgence might be ‘earned’ by ‘veneration’ of the large collection of relics in All Saints Church itself. Luther had already preached several times on the subject of indulgences, advancing the case that true repentance of the individual outweighed any purchase of an indulgence. Nevertheless even he must have been surprised at the speed with which his theses were printed and distributed throughout Germany, and the extraordinary swell of popular support that followed.
"Over the next two years, the dangers that Luther’s preaching represented to the authority of established Church became clear. Albrecht of Brandenburg did not reply to his letter but immediately passed it on to his superiors in Rome on suspicion of possible heresy. The Dominican preacher and Inquisitor Johann Tetzel, whose own notorious sales of indulgences were carried out under the authority of the archbishop, called for Luther to be burnt at the stake. Luther was summoned by the authority of the Pope to defend himself against charges of heresy at Augsburg in October 1518 before the papal legate Cardinal Cajetan. Luther in turn sought the protection of the Elector Frederick the Wise. At the meeting, Luther refused to recant and appealed directly to the Pope. A further debate in 1519 with the theologian Johann Eck dangerously compared Luther to the heretic Jan Hus. At this point the Emperor Charles V (who needed the Elector Frederick’s support) intervened and persuaded the Pope to summon Luther to a further hearing at the next Imperial Diet. The Pope agreed but in June 1520 he issued his Papal Bull Exsurge Domini rejecting Luther’s Theses and threatening him with excommunication. Luther publicly set fire to the bull and decretals at Wittenberg on 10 December that same year. The inevitable followed and Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo on 3 January 1521.
"Given the situation in which Luther found himself at this date, Cranach’s portrait still exudes a remarkable air of quiet confidence. Although his actions on All Saints Day were only ever intended to provoke an academic debate, not a popular revolution, by this date Luther can hardly have been unaware of the popularity of his views, and of the religious storm to which they were bound to lead him. He was duly summoned by the Emperor Charles V to attend the Imperial Diet of Worms, held in his presence between 28 January and 26 May 1521, and ordered again and for the last time to repudiate his Theses. Luther chose to attend under guarantee of safe conduct, but once at Worms, he refused to withdraw his attacks on the abuses of the Church. ‘If I recant these’, he stated, ‘then I would be doing nothing but strengthening the tyranny’. On the 26 May 1521, the Emperor pronounced the Edict of Worms, banning reading or possession of Luther’s writings and commanding him ‘to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic’.
Luther’s life was now in grave danger, and without waiting to hear his fate, he fled the city. During his return to Wittenberg, he was helped to ‘disappear’ in a faked highway robbery arranged by the Elector Frederick the Wise, and hidden in seclusion at Wartburg castle, where he began his translation of the New Testament into German. Cranach did not abandon his friend or his cause, and indeed this portrait is witness to the start of long and enduring relationship between the two men. They became close friends and godparents to each other’s children. Cranach painted Luther again perhaps as early as December 1521, showing him in the guise of the ‘Junker Jorg’ given to him by the Elector at this time to conceal his identity and used later to deny his rumoured death. Although now fully bearded in the court fashion, the stress and defiance on Luther’s face seems clear. Luther finally returned to Wittenberg in March 1522 and his translation of the New Testament appeared in print in September of the same year. It is clear that he and his supporters understood the importance of Cranach’s painted and printed images of the reformer, and a successful woodcut appeared that same year based on the new portrait.12 Thereafter Cranach painted Martin Luther both in his own right, and then paired with his wife and then his friend and fellow reformer Lucas Melanchthon. So great was the popular demand for these portraits that from the 1530s onwards the Cranach workshop evolved a highly efficient studio practice in order to accommodate the demand. It might be argued that Cranach never quite regained the intensity so evident in this portrait, and indeed his later images of the reformer were inevitably diluted by the sheer weight of repetitions. Cranach and Luther also worked closely together on numerous propaganda pieces against the Church, and Cranach was to devise a series of paintings depicting representations of emerging Protestant themes – Christ summoning the children, for example, or Christ and the woman taken in adultery – which slowly evolved into a pictorial programme of images for the Reformation movement. Cranach did not, however, work exclusively for the Protestant cause, and even numbered Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg among his Catholic patrons.
"It is hard for us today to fully comprehend the courage that Luther showed at Worms in the full knowledge of the dire penalties – including possible death by burning at the stake – that would face him. His powerful testimony of faith at the Diet made a deep impression on all those who heard it, most notably George ‘The Pious’, Margave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1484–1543), who later corresponded with and then met Luther, and was one of the first important nobles to go over to the new Protestant faith. Ultimately, however, the Edict of Worms was never really enforced in Germany because of the protection of many German princes on the one hand (who hoped that by this means the political power of the Papacy would be lessened), and on the other by Luther’s undeniably widespread support among the populace as a whole. Luther himself remained in Saxony, where the Elector Frederick had obtained an exemption from the Edict of Worms. By now the debate about indulgences had developed into altogether more serious issues. On a theological level, Luther had successfully challenged the absolute authority of the Pope himself. He had in addition denounced all doctrine and dogma of the church that was not to be found in scripture as invalid. Most importantly of all, perhaps, he had maintained that Salvation was to be obtained by faith alone (‘sola fide’), without references to alms, penance or the Church’s sacraments. What was initially a genuine effort to reform the Catholic faith eventually transformed into a major schism within Christianity itself."
lot has a modest estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $2,295,000.
"Inchbald is thought to have met Lawrence through the actress Sarah Siddons with whom she had a close friendship. This portrait of circa 1796, left unfinished, provides us with insight into Lawrence’s working method when beginning a portrait. According to his early biographer, Allan Cunningham, “His constant practice was to begin by making a drawing of the head full size on canvass; carefully tracing dimensions and expression. This took up one day.” At the next sitting, Lawrence would begin to paint the head. In this portrait of Mrs. Inchbald, we see exactly this method with the head having been almost fully worked up while her torso is delineated by black chalk drawn directly on the canvas. Though never completed, Lawrence has already captured the beauty and keen intelligence of his sitter."
lot has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $399,000.
"When this Madonna and Child was published by Boskovits in 1968 he noted that an attribution to Agnolo is supported by the rich floral and animal ornamentation of the Virgin’s gown, whose motifs of leaping rabbits and foliage are reproduced exactly in other pictures by the artist, for example in the background of the Madonna from the Contini Bonacossi Collection and now in the Uffizi, Florence. When Boskovits published this panel for a second time in 1975, he proposed that it may have been the central panel of a polyptych, and that it might well have been flanked by the two pairs of saints that are currently framed as one altarpiece with the aforementioned Contini Bonacossi Madonna (see fig.1). Boskovits proposed a dating of the polyptych to the artist’s youthful period around the years 1375-80.
theory placing the present panel with the Contini Bonacossi saints has
been supported most recently by Gaudenz Freuler. Like Berenson,
however,3 Freuler proposed a later dating of the altarpiece to the
1390s during which period Gaddi’s paintings display an increased
linearity, a more substantial volume to his figures, an increased
attention to the detailed handling of the gold elements and their
decoration, all balanced with a harmonious palette of pastel
tones.4 These qualities of his later works were the distinctive
traits that paved the way for the next generation of Florentine artists
such as Starnina (to whom the present panel was erroneously attributed
by Quintavalle in 1939, see Literature) and Lorenzo Monaco.
Freuler also writes of the possible connection between
this Madonna and Child and the accompanying Contini Bonacossi
saints, and an altarpiece for the Church of San Miniato al Monte in
Florence, for which Agnolo received payment during the last years of
this activity (1394-96). Due to the inclusion of the figure of Saint
Benedict in the Contini Bonacossi panels, it has been thought that this
may be the altarpiece created for the Benedictine Church of San
Miniato. As Freuler notes, this must remain speculative as there are
fragments of another altarpiece by Agnolo preserved at San Miniato,
which have also been associated with the documents noting the payments
to the artist in the mid-1390s."
The lot has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $1,455,000.
"During his lifetime Holbein was one the leading painters in south Germany with a large studio at his disposal. Today, however, we recognize his even greater historical significance because he was a bridge between the lingering Gothic elements of the 15th century, seen in works of great northern masters such as Rogier van der Weyden, and the full blown Renaissance style, as embodied in the paintings of his son, Hans Holbein the Younger. Holbein’s father was a tanner, but his mother, Anna Mair, was related to leading painters and sculptors in and around Augsburg, who provided an important influence for him in his formative years. In this, one of his earliest extant works, we can see his connection to an older generation of artists as well as his own remarkable talent and inventiveness. The Christ Child is seated between the Virgin and St. Anne. He seems quite independent although perhaps somewhat precariously balanced as he reaches for the Virgin’s prayer book with his right hand. On his other side, St. Anne grasps him loosely by his left wrist as she leans forward to offer him an apple. The Virgin, Christ and St. Anne are all seated on an elaborate golden throne; its base is a barbed quatrefoil, a common motif in Gothic architectural design, which is strewn with roses. Two flying angels hold up a cloth behind the Infant while above his head flutters the Dove of the Holy Spirit. The upper corners of the composition are closed off by gilded tracery in a pattern of twining branches.
commentators have noted the influence of the sculptor Nicolaus
Gerhaert, on Holbein’s overall conception of the subject, probably
known to him through a lost drawing or sculptural group.
Certainly in Gerhaert’s Virgin and Child with St. Anne in the
Deutsches Museum, Berlin, we see a similar sense of freedom in the
depiction of the Child, who leans away from the Virgin to reach St.
Anne, as well as that same element of instability, as if in his
enthusiasm, he might well topple over. The figures, too, with
their thin, elegant bodies, large heads, and the sharp, well-defined
folds of the drapery look back to the late Gothic style that
characterizes Gerhaert’s sculpture."
The lot has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $615,000.
"Such devotional half-length depictions of the Virgin and Child are thought to have been introduced into the Netherlands around 1450 by Rogier van der Weyden, who established an artistic tradition that influenced generations of artists to follow him, among the most prominent being Petrus Christus and Dieric Bouts. Indeed, the tender design of the present work seems to derive from a Rogierian source, one that has perhaps now been lost. The elongated face of the Virgin, the ornately trimmed veil, and the sinuous Christ holding a precious prayer book can be compared to those found in Rogier van der Weyden’s Virgin and Child in Half Length of circa 1460-64 in the Huntington Art Collections in San Marino, California. A similar motif of the Madonna Lactans appears in another half-length depiction of the Virgin and Child given to the Workshop of Rogier van der Weyden in the Art Institute of Chicago. Additionally, the theme of the child clasping the cross is repeated in a few examples recorded by Max Friedländer as relating to this artist, including one painting given to a Follower of Rogier van der Weyden in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The success of Rogier's designs and the many iterations they inspired among artists from the second half of the sixteenth century onward bears witness to the impact and enduring appeal of these new types of half-length devotional images dedicated to the Virgin and her Son, and the present panel is an excellent example of the dissemination of his pictorial tradition.
That all of the figures in the present work face in one direction towards the right suggest that they very likely once served as the left wing of a small devotional diptych."
the figures within this painting are very well preserved, the punched
gilding of the background was perhaps added at a later date."
lot has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $495,000.
"Remarkably preserved and in nearly pristine condition, this impressive pair of canvases demonstrates Canaletto’s inimitable success in capturing the imposing elegance of the architecture that defined 18th-century Venice. Most likely completed in England in the late 1740s and rendered with the artist’s customary attention to detail, the pair offers waterfront views of two of the most recognizable façades in La Serenissima: the Church of the Redentore and the Prisons of San Marco. Using a bright and dramatic light, Canaletto illuminates the remarkable grandeur of each building, highlighting their individually intricate yet balanced designs. Set beneath blue skies, bathed with a crisp atmosphere, and animated with fashionable figures, as well as gondolas and sandalos that glide gently atop the waters of the foregrounds, this pair can be ranked among Canaletto’s most admired masterpieces and are enduring examples of why he has long remained the undisputed leader of the genre of Venetian view painting.
"Built of Istrian Stone, the church of the Redentore, or officially the Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore, is arguably Andrea Palladio's (1508-1580) masterpiece and represents the apex of his refined architectural ideas. It was constructed on the island of the Giudecca in the years 1577-1592 and was commissioned by the Venetian Senate to give thanks to God for the deliverance of the city from the major plague of 1575-1576, which had decimated around one quarter of the city's population and had claimed the lives of many of the city's luminaries, including that of Titian. The Senators vowed to visit the church annually and to this day the Festa del Redentore is celebrated: each year on the third Sunday of July a temporary causeway made from barges is erected across the Giudecca for people to attend Mass. In the Redentore, Palladio combined the three distinct sections of the church into one harmonious whole, all held together by a horizontal cornice. The Redentore in the present pair is seen slightly left of center from the Canale di Giudecca and is flanked at right by the campanile of the Church of San Giacomo, which was demolished in the 19th century, in front of which appears the stern of a large, moored ship.
"The public prisons of San Marco, also known as the Palazzo delle Prigioni, are among the most prominent buildings on the Venetian Molo. Around 1580, after a fire had destroyed the original prisons in the Doge’s Palace, Antonio del Ponte, who would later complete the Rialto Bridge in 1588-1590, was chosen to oversee their reconstruction and worked from the original designs of Antonio Palladio’s contemporary, Giovanni Antonio Rusconi. Del Ponte’s nephew, Antonio Contino, helped oversee the last years of construction and also built the Bridge of Sighs, which connected the prison to the Doge’s Palace, both of which are visible in the present pair. The prisons included quarters for the nocturnal security police, a wing for women, cells for victims of the Inquisition, an infirmary and a chapel. Completed in 1597 just before Dal Ponte’s death, the prisons were among the earliest purpose-built prisons and remained in use for over three hundred years, until they officially closed in 1919.
"By the late 1720s and early 1730s, Canaletto had established himself as the foremost provider of Venetian vedute to international tourists, many of whom visited the city on their Grand Tours. His most avid collectors, though, were the British, who steadily commissioned works from him throughout his career, usually through Consul Joseph Smith, who acted as agent. Smith was undoubtedly the catalyst to Canaletto’s rapid rise to fame and was instrumental in securing the largest commission of the artist’s young career: a series of twenty-four canvases (two of large format and twenty two of small format) for the 4th Duke of Bedford in circa 1733-1736, all of which hang today in Woburn Abbey and constitute one of Canaletto’s finest achievements as painter and topographer. This series includes Canaletto’s earliest iteration of the view of the church of the Redentore with the Church of San Giacomo.1 The principal differences that distinguish the view in the present pair from the same view at Woburn Abbey can be found in the horizon line, the location of the spire at San Giacomo, and the placement of the large moored ship in the foreground. In moving the stern of the ship to the right of the painting in the present view, Canaletto seemingly creates a more balanced composition.
"Although he did not travel frequently throughout his career, Canaletto moved to London in May of 1746, having already established his reputation among the British clientele. He may have moved as a result, in part, of the War of Austrian Succession in 1740, which discouraged English visitors from undertaking Grand Tours, thereby significantly reducing a large portion of his client base. While here, Canaletto’s output did include views of the English countryside and of London, but at the same time, he was steadily producing views of Venice to satisfy the insatiable demand for such works among British collectors. He found considerable success in England, and, except for an eight-month return to Venice in 1750-1751, he remained there for nine years.
"The present pair of paintings belongs to a group of six works by the artist that are similar in size to the small-format canvases in the celebrated series at Woburn Abbey. The group includes two other pairs, each of which is anchored by an analogous view of the Churches of the Redentore and San Giacomo, one in which the central axis has been moved slightly right and one in which Canaletto populates the scene with a slightly different staffage and vessels. Unlike the present pair, which includes a secular view of the prison, the pendants of the other pairs are both views of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore from the Bacino di San Marco. While the other pairs were separated during their lifetime, and today can be found in separate collections, the present pair has remained together since they were possibly acquired by Sir Richard Neave (1731-1814), in whose family they possibly remained until the late 19th century.
this group of works is uniform in subject and style suggests that all
were likely completed around the same moment. Over the past few
decades, however, very different datings have been proffered.
Corboz proposed an early date of 1731-1746, Links suggested a
date of around 1754-1760 after Canaletto returned to Venice from
England, and Puppi believed that a completion date of around 1746, just
before the artist’s departure for England, was appropriate. Most
recently, however, Charles Beddington has suggested that the group as a
whole probably dates to the late 1740s, during Canaletto’s stay in
England, for the use of grey grounds and lighter tonality, as opposed
to the Venetian russet grounds, as well as the delicate and translucent
handling is consistent with this period of production for the artist.
"It is thought that Canaletto likely brought various drawings of his native city with him to England, such as his pen and brown ink capriccio drawing of the church of the Redentore, dated 1742, now at The Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge. As Constable rightly noted, the vantage point and distinct lighting found in this drawing can be closely compared to that of the present view of the Church of the Redentore. Although the setting of this drawing is fictional, the façade and architecture of the church is captured with the utmost detail, and such a work would have been an invaluable reference for the artist while working abroad, especially since his views of the church of the Redentore with the church of San Giacomo proved to be one of his most sought after and successful compositions. This comes as no surprise, as the view would have appealed to numerous clients in England, for it is here that the most devout admirers of Palladian architecture could be found. In addition to the version at Woburn Abbey along with the present version and its related pairs, further examples of this view of slightly larger dimensions include one formerly in the collection of Lady Cromwell, now in the Manchester City Art Gallery, and another formerly in the collection of Lord and Lady Forte, offered in these rooms on 26 January 2012, lot 58.
"On the other hand, the present view of the Prisons of San Marco is a unique composition for the artist of which no other version is known. This famed landmark only appears elsewhere in an autograph capriccio which once formed part of a series of thirteen overdoor canvases that decorated the Palazzo Mangilli-Valmarana, a house on the Grand Canal belonging to Canaletto’s great patron, Joseph Smith, and that sold in these rooms on 29 January 2009, lot 89. In this imaginary setting of this capriccio, the prisons are transposed to the Venetian mainland and set as a wing to a villa in a Piazza with a coach and various townsfolk. Because of the unusual setting, the identification of the building in the work long went unrecognized, first listed by Constable as that of the Villa Pisani, Stra(?), but later identified by Mr. Richard Zimmerman as the Prisons of San Marco.
Family of Dagnam Park Essex owned a number of important works by
Antonio Canaletto (and his school) from various moments in his career.
Although Constable only notes that “the group of paintings belonging to
Sir Arundell Neave…were acquired by his forebears in the early
nineteenth century,” according to the Neave family they were acquired
by Sir Richard Neave (1731-1814), and this seems almost certainly the
case. Neave was not only the founder of the family fortunes, but
also a successful merchant and director of the Bank of England, and it
seems very likely that he would have met Canaletto in England, where he
would have commissioned works from the artist and ordered more from him
after he returned home to Venice. The works in the collection that were
likely painted in England may include the present pair, a Venetian
Capriccio, and three views of Rome. Two other pairs of views in
the collection date to the period after Canaletto left England and
returned to Venice. Sir Richard Neave was also almost
certainly a patron of other 18th century
artists, including Francesco Zuccarelli and Thomas Gainsborough, who in
the 1760s painted a full length double portrait of Sir Richard Neave
and his wife, in which he is depicted as a connoisseur of art, showing
a drawing to his wife. After having possibly been in the Neave
Family, this pair of paintings then passed briefly into the famed
collection of G.A.F. Cavendish Bentinck, who collected paintings from
the most illustrious Venetian artists, such as Tintoretto, Veronese,
Giambattista Tiepolo, Guardi, and Canaletto."
The lot has an
estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000. It sold for $4,179,500.
"Little is known about the details of Gutiérrez’s life. He was active in Madrid and is probably the artist cited as 'Don Francisco Gutiérrez Cavello, pintor' in 1662 in relation to the estate of one doña Maria Pérez de Burgos. Stylistically, Gutierrez’s figure groups derive from Juan de la Corte, but his complex architectural renderings betray a likely knowledge of the engravings and designs from Northern and Central Europe, particularly the work of Hans Vredeman de Vries (1527-circa 1606).
lot has an estimate of $175,000 to $225,000. It sold for $350,000.
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