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Sotheby's presents highlights of the Sales of 19th Century European Art and Master Paintings
Julius Leblanc Stewart, Five O'Clock Tea, signed JL Stewart, inscribed Paris and dated 1883-4 (lower right), oil on canvas, 65½ by 90½ in. 166.4 by 229.9 cm. Estimate $1/1.5 million.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s announced highlights from their 19th Century European Art and Master Paintings auctions on 22 May in New York. These two spring sales will present nearly 200 works that reflect the rich diversity of artistic production in Europe from the 13th century to the 19th century, with estimates ranging from $7,000 – 1.5 million.

All works are now on view in Sotheby’s newly-imagined and expanded York Avenue galleries.

Auction at 10:00am EST

The morning auction of 19th Century European Art is led by The Embodiment of Dreams, a collection of paintings, works on paper and sculptures that celebrate 19th century artists’ fascination with the aesthetic possibilities of imagination and invention. Inspired by the heroes and goddesses of ancient myth, magic and the explorations of exotic lands, the era’s artists and their patrons were entranced by the strange, the new, the dreamlike. Daring interpretations of ancient mythology include Franz von Stuck’s Dionysos (estimate $30/50,000) and Jean Delville’s epic and monumental Orphée aux enfers (estimate $100/150,000). Alexandre Cabanel’s dramatic recreation of Shakespeare’s Portia (estimate $150/200,000) and evocative scenes of Greco-Roman culture by John William Godward and Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema envision worlds never before realized.

The sale also features three exceptional paintings by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, led by La paresseuse (estimate $600/800,000). As with many of Bouguereau’s paintings, La paresseuse was sold soon after its completion in 1901 to an American collector and has remained in the same family since 1939. The powerful relationship between Bouguereau, his work, and his wealthy patrons throughout the United States is the focus of the current Bouguereau & America exhibition at the Milwaukee Museum of Art.

Featured in the Salon of 1884, Julius LeBlanc Stewart’s Five O’Clock Tea (estimate $1/1.5 million) is an excellent example of the artist’s celebrated renderings of Belle Époque Paris. Known throughout his career as the “Parisian from Philadelphia,” Stewart was part of a glittering social circle of expatriates, business moguls, aristocrats, artists and actors, among them actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Lillie Langtry, Anthony J. Drexel, founder of Drexel, Morgan and Company (later J.P. Morgan) in New York, and James Gordon Bennett, the eccentric founder of The New York Herald and later the International Herald Tribune. Set in a sumptuous drawing room, the eclectic decorations in Five O’Clock Tea demonstrate the vogue for japonisme during the Aesthetic Movement of the late-nineteenth century. Among the fashionably dressed guests are two recognizable portraits: a self-portrait of the artist at far left, and the artist’s collie Jinny at right, eagerly awaiting the lucky drop of a crumb.

The May sale also features a superb group of pictures by Sir Alfred James Munnings, whose legacy as one of the most important equestrian artists continues to be celebrated in 2019, the 50th anniversary of his death. The group is led by Evening at Mendham (The Ford) (estimate $250/350,000), a 1909 work focusing on Munnings’ life-long study of the effects of light and water and featuring his favorite equine model Auguereau. The frieze-like The Queen’s Horses: "Corporal," "Biscuit," and "Aureole" (estimate $200/300,000) depicts three thoroughbreds from Queen Elizabeth’s stables, including Aureole, whose wins in the 1954 season made Queen Elizabeth the leading horse owner in Britain in 1954, the first time a reigning sovereign had topped the winner’s list.

Auction at 2:00PM EST

This spring’s sale of Old Master Paintings is comprised of an exceptional array of works from schools throughout Europe that span the 13th to the 19th centuries. The opening section of the sale features seventeen Italian paintings from a distinguished private collection that span 500 years of art history, including a 13th century gold-ground depicting St. Margaret, The Madonna And Child, And The Crucifixion With Mourning Saints by the Master of the Magdalen (estimate $300/500,000), an impressive tondo of the Madonna and Child by Mariotto Albertinelli (estimate $300/500,000), and a tender depiction of the Madonna and Child by Milanese artist Bernardino de' Conti (estimate $200/300,000). This group of paintings will be offered without reserve.

Furthermore, the sale will offer a deeply intimate Winter Landscape by John Constable (estimate $250/350,000). Painted in 1832, it is a remarkable replica of Jacob van Ruisdael’s painting from the 1660s (today seen in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art). A great admirer of Ruisdael’s works, Constable painted the Dutch artist’s winter landscape as a form of therapy to soothe his heartache after the loss of two of his dearest friends. Sir Robert Peel, a British politician who founded the Metropolitan Police Service and was later Prime Minister, lent Constable the Ruisdael work for a period of time to paint his version of the work, but was insistent that Constable introduce a difference to the canvas so as to distinguish the two. Constable thus added a small dog in the lower left corner of his painting. Constable was so attached to this painting that he frequently used it in his teachings to illustrate Ruisdael’s painterly talent, and kept it in his personal collection up until his estate sale in 1838.

The auction also features a beautiful collaboration on copper by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Hendrick van Balen depicting The Triumph of Love (estimate $300/500,000). Such partnerships were common during the 17th-century and allowed artists to contribute their own specialty to a variety of projects and commissions. In the present example, van Balen was responsible for the myriad of figures and Brueghel the natural and still life elements. Datable to circa 1608, nearly a decade after the two first joined forces around 1600, this work is considered among the pair's most accomplished joint efforts as it exemplifies a seamless blending of their individual artistic minds into one expertly executed whole.

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