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Newly discovered pastoral painting by F. G. Waldmüller leads 19th Century European Art at Christie's
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (Austrian, 1793-1865), A Doric temple in Sicily with Castelmola and Taormina beyond, signed and dated ` Waldmüller 1849.’ (lower right), oil on canvas, 38 ¼ x 54 in. (97.2 x 127 cm.). Estimate: £200,000-300,000.

LONDON.- Christie’s announced two paintings that are fresh to the market, which will be offered at auction for the first time as part of the 19th Century European Art sale, in London, on 22 May 2013. A newly discovered pastoral painting by renowned Austrian painter from the Biedermeier period, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (1793-1865), A Doric Temple in Sicily with Castelmola and Taormina beyond has been confirmed by the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, as being a part of a group of pictures executed by the artist in the 1840’s (estimate: £200,000-300,000). A sketch by the artist reflecting the upper right corner of Castelmola is in the collection of the Belvedere, making the discovery of this painting an exciting moment in art history. The auction will also be led by one of the most important paintings by Franz Von Stuck, Hercules and the Hydra, 1915, which is displayed in the artist’s original frame and has been part of the artist’s family for many decades (estimate: £250,000-350,000).

Presenting a cross-section from different cultural and geographical milieus, the sale will also include a wide variety of works that demonstrate the influence of the many intellectual and social currents of the 19th century. Featuring 89 lots, the sale will be further highlighted by works from the Barbizon, Orientalist, Romantic and Academic schools, which will be led by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot and Gustave Courbet landscapes, a selection of Franz Von Stuck symbolist paintings and sculptures and a marketplace scene by Orientalist Alberto Pasini.

Combining Mythological motifs with powerful sculptural human form, the work of Franz Von Stuck (1836-1928) will be represented by a stellar array of works during the auction. Hercules and Hydra, reflects the iconography of Greek mythology and glorifies concepts such as perseverance, courage and strength (estimate: £250,000-300,000). Presented in the artist’s original frame, the epic composition is softened by the volutes of the stylised and decorative frame. This work has been passed on from generation to generation by the artist’s family and is being offered directly from the family collection. Von Stuck’s work will be further highlighted by Amazon on Horseback, an exquisite example of the artist’s bronze work, which was conceived in 1897 and cast in 1906 (estimate: £20,000-30,000).

The Barbizon section of the sale will be represented by two significant paintings by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875). The first, Les danseurs de Castel Gandolfo is one of the earliest in a large series of poetic Italianate landscapes depicting dancers (estimate: £200,000-300,000). Here the artist has depicted a group of bacchanalian dancers or nymphs against the shores of Lake Albano. The papal retreat of Castel Gandolfo is visible in the background. The leitmotif of a screen of trees, through which a lake and a town are glimpsed, recurs in numerous works. Corot most famously returned to this subject in 1868, with his Souvenir of Castel Gandolfo, which currently resides in the Louvre, Paris.

The second painting, entitled Sous bois- un tronc d’arbre abbattu en travers d’un ruisseau, from 1874, is a singular painting in Corot's late oeuvre that was formerly owned by renowned British collector James Staats Forbes, whose collection of works by Corot and artists of the Barbizon School was one of the most important ever assembled (estimate: £100,000-150,000). A catalogue raisonné on the artist, which archives the last letters written by Corot following the death of his sister, expresses his self-reference as a woodsman returning to the forest. Seen in this context, it is clear that this painting is a memento mori in which the artist alludes to his own mortality.

Other notable examples include Entrée de forêt, a powerful yet unsettling landscape painting by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) (estimate: £180,000-250,000). This composition is characteristic of a number of landscapes painted by Courbet in the mid-1860s, inspired by the mountainous and wooded countryside of his native Franche-Comté in eastern France. The two massive beech trees in the foreground dominate a small area of sky in the background. In the present work, the lack of a horizon line across most of the canvas, the upwards perspective, and the use of dark, densely applied colours, push the entire picture plane towards the viewer, which reinforces the looming presence of the two main trees. The artist has deliberately brought the subject forward to affect the dynamism of the picture plane, ultimately rendering this an immensely powerful image.

Christie’s will offer the light-filled painting A Marketplace at the entrance to a bazaar, by Alberto Pasini, as part of the Orientalist section of sale (estimate: £200,000-300,000). The most important and gifted of the Italian Orientalist painters, Pasini spent several years in the Near East, spread over repeated trips to Persia, Egypt and, above all, Istanbul. His paintings were frequently assembled from his many drawings, often many years after his return to Italy. The present painting, showing a marketplace at the entrance to a bazaar, is typical in this regard, and most likely a conflation of many of the artist's favourite motifs.

Also featured in the Orientalist section of the sale is a beautiful selection of works by Frederick Arthur Bridgman (1847-1928). A fellow pupil of Jean-Léon Gérôme, Bridgman was the most important Orientalist artist of his day. More than any other artist in the Orientalist genre, Bridgman's primary subject was the daily and often private lives of women, either portrayed in exotic, partly-imagined interior settings or, as in the present work, involved in everyday activities. The brightly coloured interior of The Fountain Room elevates a humble everyday subject matter, and stylistically marks an evolution away from the precise style of Gérôme (estimate: £140,000-180,000).

The painting On the terrace, executed circa 1890s, is one of many paintings depicting women in the midst of everyday activity, on the terraces of Algiers, with the sea clearly visible in the background (estimate: £80,000-120,000). The woman, dressed in bright orange and with coloured garments at her feet, glances almost nonchalantly above her arm towards the viewer, providing a picturesque and striking counterpoint to the symphony of subtly shaded whites which play across the majority of the composition.

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