Restituted Dutch Masterwork 'The Rothschild Metsu' at Sotheby's NY
NEW YORK, 18 MAY 2016 – Sotheby’s spring auction of Master Paintings in New York will be held on 26 May 2016, featuring 102 superb works by celebrated names, including Botticelli, Gabriel Metsu and Jean-Baptiste Oudry.
The auction will open with Property from an Italian Private Collection – a group of 18 works, nearly exclusively of the Italian school, which was brought together in the 1960s and has not been on the market since. No fewer than nine examples of Italian Renaissance depictions of the Madonna and Child are present in this group, together illustrating regional differences in interpreting the subject – Giannicola di Paolo’s The Madonna and Child in a Landscape (estimate $60/80,000) is a charming representation from central Italy, while Bartolomeo Veneto’s Madonna and Child, seated behind a ledge, a river landscape and a town beyond illustrates the Venetian treatment of the subject (estimate: $50/70,000). The collection is led by a large-scale panel from the studio of Botticelli, The Baptism of Christ, which has been hidden from public view for decades and until recently was only known scholars through black-and-white photographs (estimate $400/600,000).
MORE ON THE ITALIAN PRIVATE COLLECTION ON SOTHEBY’S BLOG
The May sale will be led by one of the finest Dutch genre scenes remaining in private hands: Gabriel Metsu’s An Officer Paying Court to a Young Woman (estimate $6/8 million). This refined interior stands as a lasting achievement of painting in the Golden Age of the mid-17th century, when Metsu and his peers – including Johannes Vermeer, Gerrit Dou and Frans van Mieris – were creating vivid scenes of everyday life. The work was formerly in the famed Rothschild collection before being looted by the Nazis during World War II and later recovered by the Monuments Men. Dedicated press release available
Jean-Baptiste Oudry’s striking Still Life with a Violin, a Recorder, Books, a Portfolio of Sheet of Music, Peaches and Grapes on a Table Top, is an outstanding example of the artist’s work in still-life (estimate $600/800,000). The beautifully balanced composition incorporates music and musical instruments, which at the time proved enormously popular and in high demand. The present work falls into the first half of Oudry’s career, when the artist gradually stepped away from portraiture and began to explore the genre of still-lifes, which would make him one of the most successful and versatile artists of the 18th century.
A rare discovery, Botticelli’s An Angel, Head and Shoulders, is a delightfully engaging depiction of an angel (estimate $300/500,000). The painting dates to circa 1495-1500 and marks a significant moment in Botticelli’s late career when he was beginning to experiment with the medium of oil. The distinct crispness of the drapery folds and the sharpness of the outlines are distinguishing characteristics of Botticelli’s late works. Infrared reflextography provides additional insight into the panel’s original format – most notably the hair of the angel. Once more voluminous, the angel’s hair in the upper right corner was tamed and brought closer to his head as we see it today.
The Portrait of Elizabeth, Lady Webster, Later Lady Holland, painted by the last major painter of the Grand Tour, Louis Gauffier deftly captures the intelligence, beauty and charm of his young sitter (estimate: $300/600,000). Several years after marrying Sir Godfrey Webster, Bt. of Battle Abbey, the couple and their two infant sons set out on the Grand Tour. Following the birth of their third son while on the Grand Tour in 1793, Lady Webster met Henry Richard Fox, 3rd Baron Holland in Florence, and her marriage to Lord Webster quickly deteriorated. Lady Webster and Lord Holland went on to marry in 1797, settling in Kensington, Holland House. Lady Webster was known as one of the most influential women of her generation, due in large part to her forceful personality, and her home became the undisputed center of the Whigs’ political and intellectual life.
Following Sotheby’s record-breaking sale of Valentin de Boulogne’s The Crowning with Thorns for $5,178,000 this January, the May sale will offer another striking example of the artist’s Baroque naturalism: David with the Head of Goliath (estimate: $200/300,000). The artist was one of Caravaggio’s most accomplished French followers and arguably his greatest acolyte. Painted in Rome circa 1627 for Cardinal Francesco Barberini, the work demonstrates to what extent the Frenchman had absorbed Caravaggio’s radical and redefining innovations. The work will be offered at public auction for the first time in 25 years.