Old Masters Auction

Masters of Light - Sotheby's Old Masters Sale

Old Masters Auction

MASTERS OF LIGHT From the Gold-grounds of the Italian Early Renaissance To the Chiaroscuro of Joseph Wright of Derby Including One of Wright of Derby’s Most Important Candlelight Pictures Two Recently Rediscovered Constables A Luminous View of Venice by Bellotto An Exceptional Group of Glittering 14th and 15th-century Gold-grounds A Gallery of Portraits covering 300 years, From Cranach and Titian to Van Dyck

Sotheby’s London Old Masters Evening sale on 6 December 2017 covers 400 years of art history, from the visually arresting gold-grounds of the Early Italian Renaissance to one of the last and most important candlelight pictures by Joseph Wright of Derby left in private hands. Highlights also include a luminous 18th-century view of Venice by Bellotto, two recently rediscovered landscapes by The Master of the Saint Lambrecht Votive Altarpiece, Recto: The Nativity; circa 1435-40, oil and gold on panel 82 x 66.7 cm, est. £300,000 — 400,000 Joseph Wright of Derby, An Academy by Lamplight, 1769 oil on canvas, 127 x 101.5 cm est. £2.5-3.5 million Constable, as well as a formidable gallery of portraits covering 300 years, from Cranach and Titian to Van Dyck.

Alex Bell, Worldwide Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department: “Strong imagery, luminous works and great names have long been driving the Old Masters market but in the last couple of years, we have witnessed a surge of interest in Early Renaissance and high Renaissance paintings among international collectors. With their simple and striking imagery, these works often find their way in very eclectic collections. We are therefore delighted that nearly half of the works in the sale consist of Renaissance pictures. We are also privileged to present rare works by three of the greatest and most influential British artists of the 18th century whose work transcends national boundaries and speaks to a wider global sensibility: Constable, Wright of Derby and Stubbs.”

Among the highlights in the sale are two recently rediscovered landscapes by John Constable (1776 – 1837). The first, Dedham Vale with the River Stour in Flood is one of the most exciting and important additions to the artist’s oeuvre to have emerged in the last 50 years. Painted between 1814 and 1817, the work belongs to a small group of Constable’s early Suffolk paintings remaining in private hands and will be offered with an estimate of £2-3 million (lot 40). For more details, please see a dedicated release available here and click above to see our teaser video.

The second work by Constable is the first sketch for one of the artist’s most celebrated paintings, The Opening of Waterloo Bridge, today in the collection of Tate Britain. Previously thought lost, the work, dating from circa 1819–20, depicts a rare view of London by the artist and presages Monet’s famous series of views of Waterloo Bridge created almost a century later (lot 51, est. £1-1.5 million). 

Testament to the genius of Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797), An Academy by Lamplight is one of the artist’s most important candlelight pictures, and one of his last major works remaining in private hands. Painted in 1769, the work is a supreme example of Wright’s dramatic rendering of light and shade and his association with the Enlightenment movement. It comes to the market with an estimate of £2.5-3.5 million, the highest estimate for a work by Joseph Wright of Derby ever at auction (lot 11, illustrated p.1). A dedicated release is available here. Important works by George Stubbs (1724 – 1806), the greatest animal painter of the 18th century, rarely appear on the market. Painted in 1789, Two bay hunters in a paddock was commissioned by the Irish peer, Arthur Annesley, 8th Viscount Valentia and is typical of Stubbs’ preferred setting for his portraits of horses in the latter part of his career, often depicting two horses communing face to face (lot 47, est. £1.5-2 million).

Highly sought after, Italian views feature strongly in the sale, with two 18th-century Landscapes depicting the Villa Aldobrandini at Frascati and the Villa Farnese at Caprarola by Vanvitelli, the inventor of the Veduta, (lot 24, est. £700,000-1 million) and a luminous morning view of The Grand Canal, looking north from near the Rialto Bridge, recognised only recently as a work by Bernardo Bellotto. The work is likely to date to about 1738, early in the artist’s career when his works were often mistaken for those of his illustrious uncle Canaletto. In some respects this painting may be seen as an instance of Bellotto surpassing his celebrated master (lot 25, est. £2-3 million). Click here to see a video bringing the work to life thanks to CGI technology. 

  • 06.12.2017
    Auktion »
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus »

    WHEN: Friday 1st December at 10am
    WHERE: Sotheby’s, 34-35 New Bond Street, London W1

    These works will be auctioned in Sotheby’s London Old Masters Evening sale
    on 6 December 2017
    On view in our London galleries, 1-6 December

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  • Masters of Light - Sotheby's Old Masters Sale
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
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