A monthly column featuring mostly lowbrow auction highlights and essential Old Masters news and events.
Originally commissioned by Alfonso I d’Este (1476-1534), this panel (right) was sold at Christie’s and has an absolutely illustrious provenance worth a click to the lot description. The frieze corresponds to a painting at the National Gallery of Art (left) and the canvas was one of ten paintings portraying scenes from the Aeneid commissioned by Alfonso d’Este for his Camerino d’Alabastro in Castello Estense. Thankfully, it was acquired by the NGA and reunited with its counterpart.
Price realized USD 400,000—Estimate: $400,000-600,000 .
From the Alana Collection (see the Jacquemart-André exh from 2019), this is a rare surviving example of a work of this caliber from this period and was thankfully bought by MFA Boston.
Price realized USD 1,470,000—Estimate USD 1,500,000 – USD 2,500,000.
A Book of Hours realized by an artist at the court of Anjou. It’s meticulously preserved and stunning, but where are my medieval animals at??
Price realized USD 3,630,000—Estimate USD 1,500,000 – USD 2,500,000.
Price Realized USD 68,750— Estimate USD 5,000 – 8,000.
For all you DecArts lovers out there, enjoy this outrageously overpriced witchbox: I HIGHLY recommend clicking this link to view the full lot description but highlights include:
A wood baton with a carved grotesque mask finial mounted with bone; A preserved crows head with beak; A silver-metal pendant and chain, the pendant cast with a dragon and verso engraved with a star motif and the word SATAN; A small hand-stitched cloth ‘Voodoo’ doll, fixed to a board, with nails and pins, in linen bag; A cut length of plaited hair; A pressed metal ‘claw’ spangle; A miniature Venetian glass goblet, from a dolls house; and A black scrying mirror in fold-over leather case.
Price Realized 20,160 GBP — Estimate 4,000 – 6,000 GBP.
Finally a bonus lot: I forgot to include this last month but a Bernini drawing set a record for the artist back in March at Actéon, going for €1.9 million. Initially catalogued as French School, 17th century, it was reattributed by Ann Sutherland Harris to Bernini.
If you are a self-respecting millennial, you know that porróns are SO IN right now (although who knows why / this is why I can’t wear white linen shirts). If you can’t get to Little Spain in the soulless concrete complex from Dank Lloyd Wright‘s fevered nightmare (otherwise known as Hudson Yards), why not S P L U R G E on the OG porrón, aka an aquamanile?
Price realized USD 112,500— Estimate USD 12,000 – USD 18,000.
Who cares about Palissy when ~nature~ does it better? Cute, just in time for soft shell crab season.
Price realized 2,016 USD— Estimate 3,000 – 5,000 USD.
So hear me out: if you think about it, the largest Ciré Trudon candle is $750 so you could buy ten of those and let the wax settle into your lungs (thanks NYT for ruining my only pandemic pleasure), or you could just buy this oil lamp and straight up burn some whale oil. The flames comes out of his feet, I think.
Price Realized USD 7,500— Estimate USD 1,500 – USD 2,500.
It seems like everyone’s having kids and for the price of a “fair-trade organic cotton baby blanket featuring a minimalist but tasteful patchwork pattern,” you might as well get them this rattle—the bouquet holder is gratuitous and could probably double as a string cheese holder.
Price Realized 390 €— Estimate 100 – 150 €.
Finally, summer is here and I’ve been shopping for cute folding chairs to bring to parks/beaches. But nothing will flex more than this very rare Ming Dynasty chair.
Very few examples of folding horseshoe-back armchairs survive and this design is inspired by early Han Dynasty huchangs.
Estimate: HKD 8,000,000 – HKD 12,000,000 (USD 1,030,098.40- 1,545,147.60).
May 14-28: Old Masters Spotlight at the IFPDA Fine Art Print Fair
May 20-22: Objects of Devotion: Religion and its Instruments in Early Modern Europe
May 21: Dürer 550
May 25-26: (Im)material Michelangelo: Toward a Visual Historiography of Sculpture – Between Reproduction and Art-Historical Enquiry
May 27-29: Paper Religion: Affordances and Uses in Christian Practices 1400 – 1800
June 10-11: The Sensory Experience in 18th Century Art Exhibitions
June 10-11: Early Modern Cultures of Copying
June 14-15: Performing Objects and the Objects of Performance in the Global Early Modern
- Can’t see “Fleeting – Scents in Colour” at the Mauritshuis? You can order a “Unique Fragrance Box and Virtual See-and-smell tour” here.
- Rijksmuseum uploaded videos of true and personal stories of slavery in the Dutch empire.
- There was a discovery of a Carravaggio which led the Madrid-based auction house, Ansorena, to withdraw the lot initially attributed to the workshop of José de Ribera.
- Interpol launched a new app to help you identify stolen works of art. Will U be the one to find the stolen masterpieces from the Gardner?
- The Salvator Mundi drama continues with a new documentary…
- A Lucas Cranach the Elder painting was sold on April 22 at Christie’s as part of a legal settlement between the estate of Eugene V. Thaw and the heirs of Margarete Eisenmann. The Cranach was sold by the Eisenmann family under duress as payment of an antisemitic WWII tax system known as Judenvermögensabgabe.
- Frescos were discovered in the Uffizi, one depicting Cosimo II de’ Medici and the other of Ferdinando I.
- A cache of objects found in April 2019 by amateur metal detectorists was declared a national treasure.
The Uffizi is minting masterpieces as NFTs, starting with Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo (1505-06). Is it a good idea and an easy revenue stream for museums? Maybe not…
Some New Acquisitions:
- El Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao acquired a painting by Sofonisba Anguissola. You can learn more about the painting at this talk.
- Prado acquired the earliest work documented by Goya.
- Cleveland Museum of Art acquired Aurelio Lombardo’s Dido from the Hester Diamond Sale at Sotheby’s this past January.
- The Portrait of Catherine de Medici with her two children was returned to Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill.
- The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts acquired Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614)’s Portrait of a Lady (1585).
- The National Gallery in London acquired a portrait by Isaack Luttichuys.
This week’s coda:
We’re coming up on the tragic anniversary of the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent explosion of protests. Additionally, the last few months have been tough for me as an art historian of Asian descent, having been a target of a hate crime here in New York and seeing both the outpour of support and simultaneous dismissal from colleagues and friends in the field. It has ostensibly been a year since museums around the world finally got around to establishing DEIA committees and working on diversifying their staff and collections.
Frieze NY’s tribute to Professor Sarah Lewis’s Vision & Justice Project and the critically lauded Speed Art Museum’s exhibition on the Life of Breonna Taylor, Promise, Witness, and Remembrance, are proof that the art world is listening. But what can we do in Old Masters, a field where the majority of the work lies on reinterpretation rather than new additions? HNA’s piercing statements of solidarity and the astounding four-part conference on “Art Museums and the Legacies of the Dutch Slave Trade,” are certainly important milestones. As the media attention fades away from injustices faced by BIPOC, it’s important to not only continue to push institutions, organizations, and associations to recognize underserved voices and narratives, but also use our platforms to promote allyship rather than reinforce gatekeeping.
DIMES SQUARE X DROUOT (aka. Derp of the Week)
WHO IS HE? AND DOES ONE PUT THE LIME IN THE COCONUT?!
J. Cabelle Ahn is a PhD Candidate in History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University where she specializes in eighteenth-century French graphic arts. Her dissertation is titled “Multiple Exposures: Drawing Exhibitions in Eighteenth-century France,” and her project maps public and private drawing displays from late seventeenth-century Florence to early nineteenth-century Paris. Beyond French drawings and prints, her research interests include early modern culinary history, artistic exchanges between the Netherlands and France, history of the art market, and the impact of the Old Masters in Contemporary Art. She is based in Brooklyn, NY.
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