Christies presents sculptures sale 'Maitres anciens: Peintures' in Paris
Some significant rediscoveries will be showcased during this auction
Christies presents sculpture sale Maitres anciens: Peintures in Paris on June 15. It features a curated selection of around fifty works with a global estimate of between 4 and 6 million euros. Some significant rediscoveries will be showcased during this auction, Christies experts regularly shining a light on — sometimes vanished — artworks from little-known collections all across France and Europe.
One such work is the sale highlight, La Nature morte au vase de fleurs, a masterpiece by Anne Vallayer-Coster (1744-1818) much admired at the 1783 Salon (The Academie des Beaux-Art's annual exhibition) (Estimate: 600,000-1,000,000 euros). The June 15 sale will include paintings — many new to the market — by Jusepe de Ribera, Pierre Patel the Elder, and Jan Brueghel the Younger. The sale is rounded out with a section devoted to sculptures, such as a Pieta restituted to its rightful owners by the Louvre on April 18 of this year, and an online sale will be organised from June 1-16.
Renowned female artists
Anne Vallayer-Coster (1744-1818), a defining figure in 18th-century art world, was often compared to Chardin, a major source of inspiration. Defending her own work, she managed to get all the attention and recognition she deserved during her lifetime. She was even allowed to enter the very male-dominated Paris art academy, the Academie royale de peinture et de sculpture. Nature morte au vase de fleurs et ananas, painted by the artist in 1783, was considered a crowning achievement by Vallayer-Coster herself and her peers. This is why she never parted from this masterpiece. The exceptionally well-preserved painting, close to its original state, is making its first market appearance in almost two hundred years. It is estimated at 600,000-1,000,000 euros.
A set of four never seen paintings by Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807), all from the same British collection, will also celebrate the role of women artists during the Enlightenment. Whether allegorical or literary, the works for sale epitomise Kauffmann's skill in compositions with romantic tones, such as Virtue triumphing over vice, estimated at 30,000-50,000 euros.
Another significant rediscovery is a powerful Saint Jerome by Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652), one of the great Spanish masters displayed in major museums worldwide. Ribera's pared-back approach in this remarkably well-preserved 1648 painting reveals sculptural shading, demonstrating his widely-acknowledged mastery of chiaroscuro. It is estimated at 500,000-800,000 euros.
The sale will also showcase Pierre Patel the Elder (1604-1676), one of the most gifted landscape artists during the French golden period referred to as the Grand Siecle. His painting, Paysage ideal avec monuments antiques anime de personnages, has never been seen on the market before. It is datable to the 1650s, when the artist was working for Paris' celebrated Hotel Lambert. Its composition is reminiscent of a drawing in the Fondation Custodia's collection. It is estimated at 400,000-600,000 euros.
Another highlight of the sale is Allegorie de la vue by Jan Brueghel the Younger, a rare piece depicting the great intellectual breadth and ongoing quest for discovery of an era where the passion for collecting led to a surge in cabinets of curiosities. The painting's appealing, almost playful collection of objects contrasts with the peaceful vista over Antwerp on the right-hand side (Estimate: 300,000-500,000 euros).
A life-size Saint John the Baptist by Jacopo di Antonio Negretti, also known as Palma Giovane, will also be offered for sale. The work, with very prestigious provenance, was owned by Diego Felipez de Guzman (1580-1655) for many years. The marquess of Leganes was one of the most significant Spanish collectors of his time, remembered for having brought together an astounding collection of over 1,700 paintings. (Estimate: 100,000-150,000 euros). Finally, the auction will feature two beautiful compositions by Jean-Baptiste Vanmour, a French painter who spent almost his entire life in the Ottoman Empire in the early 18th century. Collectors have always been fascinated by Vanmour's detailed observations on the Levant's art de vivre.
A section devoted to sculpture
The Sculpture Department will present an impressive Pieta, created in Gil de Siloe's circle, circa 1500 (Estimate: 80,000-120,000 euros). The sculpture belonged to Harry Fuld's private collection but was looted by Nazis during the Second World War. It was on display at the Louvre in recent years and was restituted this past 18 April. The sale proceeds will benefit the Magen David Adom UK organisation and its efforts in Israel.
A rare reliquary cross with enamel plaques is also offered for sale. This fine example of Mosan art from the end of the 12th century was drawn from an aristocratic Belgian collection (Estimate: 35,000-45,000 euros). Additional highlight: an extremely fine alabaster sculpture, possibly depicting King Charles II of Spain, made by a sculptor in Giovanni Travaglia's circle in the late 17th century (Estimate: 25,000-35,000 euros). The one-metre-tall sculpture's movement, coat folds, and hair curls are all hallmarks of Sicilian baroque art.