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Sotheby's London sale of European paintings estimated to bring in excess of £11 million
Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923), Children in the Sea, Valencia Beach. Oil on canvas, 81 x 106cm., 32 x 41¾in. Estimate: 2,000,000-3,000,000 GBP. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sotheby's sale of European Paintings on Tuesday, 22 November, 2011 will bring together some 242 works comprising Spanish Painting, The Scandinavian Sale, The Greek Sale and German, Austrian and Central European Paintings, and encompasses prime works by Sorolla, Hammershųi, Peterssen, Egger-Lienz, Moralis, Ralli and Sykora. The auction is estimated to bring in excess of £11 million.

The Scandinavian Sale will be headlined by three paintings by Vilhelm Hammershųi and a superb selection of works by leading Norwegian artists. Interior with Ida in a White Chair by Vilhelm Hammershųi Vilhelm Hammershųi (1864-1916), estimated at £500,000-700,000, is one of the most important works by the artist ever to be offered at auction and comes to the market from a Danish Private Collection. Painted in 1900 in the artist’s home at Strandgade 30 in Copenhagen, it depicts his wife Ida. A sublime distillation of Hammershųi’s artistic concerns during his lifetime, the painting epitomises his remarkable ability to capture a sense of timelessness and introspective solitude. Interior with Ida in a White Chair can be considered the most poetic of the series of paintings made from this viewpoint in the apartment. The viewer’s eye is gently led from the graceful curve of Ida’s back and the finely carved fan-shaped back of the white chair in which she sits, absorbed in her activity, to the central hallway and through to the light-filled room in this distance, with its expanse of window. The rarefied light is the principal subject here, in all its nuanced richness.

Sotheby’s Scandinavian Sale will also present two further paintings by Hammershųi from different Danish private collections, including an important rediscovered work. Svend Hammershųi. Forarbejde til Mųntsamleren (Svend Hammershųi. Study for the Coin Collector) is a preparatory study for the artist’s 1904 masterpiece Mųntsamleren (The Coin Collector), in the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo. The sitter was the artist's younger brother Svend, a painter and ceramicist. One of only three known studies for the Oslo painting, and the only study to feature the figure, the work offers a fascinating insight into the artist’s working methods, while at the same time evoking the distinctive sense of seclusion and introspection that characterises Hammershųi’s work. The painting is estimated at £30,000-50,000.

Interior by Hammershųi, painted in 1890, displays a remarkable intimacy and informality, and provides a fascinating insight into the creative process underlying the artist’s more studied oils. The light, free brushstokes are in marked contrast to the measured calm of his large-scale oils. The painting exudes a playfulness and joie de vivre with its bright light and breezy atmosphere, reflective of the artist’s personal happiness and professional success at the time. By 1890, his career was in its ascent, following the exhibition of four works in the Danish section of the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris and praise from French critic and collector Théodore Duret, who favoured Hammershųi over any other contemporary Danish painter. In June he became engaged to Ida Ilsted and they married the following year. Interior is estimated at £100,000-150,000.

Leading the group of works by Norwegian artists is Sunshine, Kalvųya by Eilif Peterssen Eilif Peterssen (1852-1928). Estimated at £150,000-200,000 and painted in 1891, the work depicts the artist’s second wife, Magda, engrossed in her needlework within a verdant, sun drenched landscape. Peterssen trained in Copenhagen, in Karlsruhe under Hans Gude, and Munich, leaving in 1878 to travel widely, visiting London and Paris before spending time in Italy from 1879 to 1883. His distinctive style of plein-air subject matter evolved from his association first with Peder Severin Krųyer in the artists' colony that developed in the fishing community at Skagen in Jutland, Denmark, and subsequently in the summer of 1886 with his fellow Norwegian painters Christian Skredsvig, Gerhard Munthe, Kitty Kielland, Harriet Backer, and Erik Werenskiold on a farm at Fleskum in Norway where their work celebrated nature and the great outdoors. The present work shows Peterssen at his most Impressionist, with Magda’s dress executed in a dynamic virtuoso, almost abstract, dazzle of strokes. Painted on an island off Sandvika and just a few miles from Fleskum, the work was produced in a Nordic landscape in full sun on a summer's day. Impressionism was seen as a rejuvenating force for Norwegian painting as a whole.

A group of four works from a Norwegian Private Collection comprise intimate renderings of the nocturnal Nordic landscape by Johan Christian Dahl (1788-1857) and Peder Balke Peder Balke (1804-1887). Dahl’s Clouds in Moonlight (est. £5,000-7,000), The Elbe in Evening Light (est. £15,000-20,000, pictured left) and View over the Elbe and ‘Der Bär’ Bastion (est. £15,000-20,000), and Balke’s Two Sailing Boats by Moonlight (est. £6,000-8,000) are evocative small-scale works. Balke had received a warm welcome when he first visited his fellow countryman Dahl and his children Caroline and Siegfried in the winter of 1835. Arriving in Dresden shortly before Christmas, he was impressed by the thousands of studies from nature Dahl had in his studio. The effect on Balke during the several months that he was Dahl's pupil was to take his own studies of nature more seriously. On his return to Dresden on a government sponsored bursary during 1843-44 Balke presented the present work to Dahl's daughter Caroline, then aged 21.

Leading the Spanish Painting component of the sale is Spain’s greatest exponent of the period, Joaquķn Joaquķn Sorolla Sorolla (1863-1923) with Children in the Sea, Valencia Beach, one of the freshest and most iconic beach scenes to have come to market in recent years. Following the resounding critical acclaim garnered during the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, Sorolla loosened the reins on his creative genius and felt the freedom to develop an artistic language that would be his own and concentrate on the subject matter that was most important to him. The first decade of the 20th century saw him flourish and by 1903 he “reached his full maturity as a painter”, according to his great-niece, Blanca PonsSorolla, who is working on the catalogue raisonée of Sorolla’s work. Painted in 1908, Children in the Sea, Valencia Beach (est. £2,000,000-3,000,000) is the artist’s evocation of childhood innocence. The young boy standing in the foreground shading his eyes establishes a dialogue with the viewer, as his play mates frolic in the waves behind and a fishing boat in full sail sails past in the far distance. This important and innovative composition is a showcase for Sorolla’s consummate skill in capturing the light and movement of a spontaneous instant on the beach.

There is a wealth and variety of artistic expression in the range of styles and approaches to the portraits of women. From aloof society ladies to daring gypsies and from innocent ingénue to brazen nude, the auction includes a select choice of representations of the female form. Madame Souty (est. £400,000-600,000) is the most brazen representation Ignacio Zuloaga (1870-1945) ever did of one of his favourite models and is considered one of his best. The work remained in the artist’s private collection and has never before come to market. Painted in the artist’s Paris studio in 1921, this was the last, and only nude, portrait Zuloaga made of Marcelle Souty. In this unique work the Basque painter pays direct homage to Francisco de Goya and the master’s Maja desnuda, thus binding his artistic legacy with the new social order that had arisen following the end of WWI.

Raimundo de Madrazo (1841-1920) was the most distinguished figure in the “Spanish School” in Paris during the second half of the nineteenth century. He specialised in female portraits and found in Aline Mason, the daughter of the concierge at the home of the Marquis of Casa Riera, the perfect inspiration for many works. Aline, reflections (est. £120,000-180,000), one of the most magnificent portraits of his model, presents Madrazo’s muse as a fashionable young lady looking at a photo album. A master of delicate precision, Madrazo reflects the brightness of her blouse against the gold leaf edge of the album, and the vibrant upholstery and ribbons provide a stark contrast to the black and white photographs.

Julio Romero de Torres (1879-1930) built his career around female portraiture and created some iconic images of women that are firmly embedded in the Spanish psyche. Sotheby’s sale includes three portraits by Romero, each very different in style. In Adela Carbone, La Tanagra (est. £200,000-300,000, pictured right), Romero de Torres presents the Italian performer and writer, and also his sister-in-law, holding a tanagra figure, an ancient Greek terracotta dancing statue and symbol of her calling. Painted in 1911, the overall work is infused with the artist’s fascination with Renaissance masters he had admired during an extensive sojourn in Italy three years earlier. The classicism and serenity of this portrait contrast with the winsome pose of the Andalousian beauty in Melancholy (est. £70,000-100,000).

A full representation of the Spanish female figure would not be complete without that of a gypsy. In the late 1940s during his exile in southern France following the Spanish Civil War, the Catalan artist Hermenegildo Anglada Hermenegildo Anglada--Camarasa --Camarasa (1871-1959) returned to one of his favourite subjects in The Gypsy Dance (est. £150,000-250,000). The sinuous silhouette of the svelte flamenco dancer stands out against the afternoon sun-drenched landscape as the guitarists strum and the other members of the troupe provide rhythm with their pulsating clapping.

The master of Spanish symbolism Santiago Rusińol Santiago Rusińol (1861-1931) travelled extensively throughout Spain and found a constant source of inspiration in the country’s landscapes and gardens. This sale includes two important works from his mature period: The Cypress Fountain (est. £80,000-120,000) and Montseny (est. £120,000-180,000). Painted in 1922 in the gardens of a Franciscan convent in Jįtiva, Valencia, The Cypress Fountain was exhibited in Barcelona and Rome in 1923 and in the United States in 1926. It was purchased by a private collector and has remained in the same collection.

The Greek Sale features an important work by Modern Greek master Yiannis Moralis Yiannis Moralis (1916-2009) and three masterpieces by Theodoros Ralli (1852-1909). With the Moralis exhibitions at the Benaki Museum, the National Gallery in Athens and the Alexandros Soutzos Museum this year, Sotheby’s is pleased to be offering Moralis’ Full Moon L, estimated at £300,000-500,000. Painted in 1977, this monumental, harmonious and deeply poetic work shows Moralis at the height of his powers and is one of the most important works from this period to appear at auction. The origins of Moralis' abstract works, of which Full Moon L is a fine example, lie in the portraits he painted during the German occupation (1941-44), which were characterised by a restricted palette, an opposition of light and shadow and a concern for the flattening of form and space. After 1970 Moralis produced works with a predominant schematic presence. His preoccupation with compositional structure and colour relationships is paramount in Full Moon L, which has both a delicate formal balance between its light and dark forms and a chromatic harmony overall.

Holy Friday, painted by Theodoros Ralli in Paris in 1885, comes to auction from a UK Private Collection and has not been seen in public in over 50 years. Estimated at £300,000-500,000, it was exhibited at the Paris Salon in the year of its execution and received an honourable mention. In this beautifully observed work, Ralli depicts a young girl in rustic dress who, having been tasked with watching over the church on Holy Friday, has fallen asleep at her post. The sun is rising, light is entering the church and beginning to illuminate the ancient murals, and the candles are still burning from the night before. Ralli often depicted Holy scenes in Greece and the uniquely Greek setting allowed him to demonstrate his artistic talents with consummate skill - from the still life in the upper left, to the delicately observed play of candlelight in the shadows, to the vibrant flowers strewn across the ground. The scene, as the original Salon plaque on the frame relates, takes place in Megara, Attica. Like many of Ralli's church scenes, the painting is an homage to Greek life.

Countryside by Nicos Hadjikiriakos Nicos Hadjikiriakos--Ghika --Ghika (1906-1994) is an important example of the artist’s lyrical depictions of the Greek landscape he so admired. The sinuous line and undulating dynamic of the rocky ledges and dense foliage lead the eye over an almostabstract architectural network, with strong expressionist strokes and vivid blocks of colour. This pulsing and contorted landscape is a familiar idiom in the oeuvre of Ghika, but his earlier angular geometry is cast aside for an even more emotional and directly descriptive rendering. With a virtuoso wealth of strokes and hues, the present work – estimated at £100,000-150,000 – presents a rich display of Ghika's painterly skill.

The German, Austrian and Central European section of the sale will be highlighted by Albin Egger--Lienz --Lienz’s (1868-1928) Der Sämann (The Sower). The figure in The Sower was conceived for his monumental triptych, Erde (The Earth), which was painted at the height of Egger-Lienz's career. Here the sower is depicted as the salt of the earth in times of peace, his stolid and unquestioning expression epitomising Egger's pareddown, monumental style, setting it apart from his earlier Realist style. Throughout his oeuvre, Egger-Lienz was focused on the everyday agrarian life of his homeland, progressively abstracting his formal language into monumental expressiveness. This work is estimated at £400,000-600,000.

Painted in 1980, Lines no. 11 is an early and seminal work from Zdenek Sżkora's (1920-2011) 'Linie' series of paintings, which he commenced in 1979. This series is the most important in the artist's oeuvre, with other works from it in the collections of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, MUMOK in Vienna and the Steddelijke Museum, Amsterdam. After seeing the works of Matisse at the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg in 1959, his work developed from naturalism to abstraction. Political repression in Czechoslovakia during the 1970s did not hinder Sżkora's experimentation, and he progressively developed an idiom characterised by dense clusters of interwoven, curving lines, in which every aspect of the composition, from the intense hues to the thickness, direction and length of each element, was determined by a computer. This important work is estimated at £280,000-350,000.

A further important highlight is Ferdinand Georg Wa Ferdinand Georg Waldmü ldmüller’ üüller’s (1793-1865) Das Veilchenmädchen (The Violet Girl). This work epitomises his paintings of children for which Waldmüller was so popular and best loved. Against the backdrop of a traditional wooden barn in early spring (the trees are not yet in leaf), a smiling farmer's daughter walks straight towards the viewer, offering up posies of violets, in her hand and on a plate, the first harbingers of spring. Primroses and cowslips lie at her feet. From the 1840s the emphasis of Waldmüller's work shifted dramatically from portraiture and flower painting as he developed an interest in genre paintings or Sittenbilder. Estimated at £150,000-200,000, the present work represents an exciting rediscovery, having remained in the hands of the same family since its purchase, in Vienna, ninety years ago.

Carl Spitzweg’s (1808-1885) Ständchen (The Serenade) contains all the elements which made and continue to make Spitzweg so endearing to collectors and the public imagination. Perched precariously on a ladder, a bespectacled suitor serenades his girl outside her garret window. The scene is an inimitable blend of humour and pathos, for the likely outcome of the lone fiddler's endeavours - that he will be ignored or that the ladder will collapse before he has a chance to find out - goes almost without saying. This hitherto unrecorded painting is estimated at £100,000-150,000.

Jean--Baptiste Corot --Baptiste Corot’s (1796-1875) Faneuses ą Ville d’Avray (est. £50,000-70,000) belongs to a group of views of the village of Ville d’Avray, just outside of Paris, where his parents bought a house in 1817 when he was 21 years old. Corot’s views of the village, one of his favourite and best-known subjects, were exhibited at the Paris Salons of 1859 and 1870.

Set on the terrace of an archetypal Italian tavern, The Winning Hand (est. £130,000-180,000) epitomises Raffaello Sorbi Raffaello Sorbi’s (1844-1931) trademark style of colourful folk scenes, set in the Tuscan countryside surrounding his native Florence. The painting communicates Sorbi's wish to depict Italy as a unified whole at the time of the risorgimento, in which camaraderie prevails and all social classes live in harmony. Here, the nobility as well as local villagers share their enjoyment of a fine summer's afternoon, decked in anachronistic eighteenth-century costumes to transcend the realm of the artist’s and viewer’s present-day. Sorbi's colourful and playful paintings were enormously popular during his own lifetime, recognised through his receipt of the highest Italian accolade, the Commendatore del Regno.

A strong selection of Dutch pictures includes Romantic works, such as Petrus Van Schendel’s (1806-1870) A Moonlit Vegetable Market (est. £100,000-150,000), a superb example of his mastery in nocturnal Dutch market scenes. The artist chose such themes to showcase his skill in recreating the theatrical effects of warm candle and lamplight casting warm glows across the human face and body.

An outstanding example of a work from the Hague School is Midinettes on the Place Vendōme, Paris (est. £60,000-80,000), Dutch painter Isaac Israels Isaac Israels’ (1865-1934) tribute to the French capital that saw him first arriving there in 1903. Inspired by the Parisian life, he decided to stay and develop his craft, which transitioned into a more ‘French’ palette of lighter colours applied in broad, flat strokes that emphasise light, line and movement.

I Guanti Neri (The Black Gloves), estimated at £150,000- 250,000, is a masterful Impressionist composition by Italian painter Federic Federico Zandomeneghi o Zandomeneghi (1841-1917). His fortuitous meeting in Paris with Edgar Degas and Paul Durand-Ruel, the renowned art dealer, marked the launch of his Impressionistic style, but with a distinctly more luminous, Venetian-style palette than that of his French peers – of which this painting of a lady is a fine example – earning him the nickname of Le Vénetien among fellow artists. Unlike other great Impressionist works depicting the hustle and bustle of the bourgeoisie at the theatre, Zandomeneghi’s portrait focuses on the intimacy, serenity and subtle sensuality of the girl getting ready, in the moments just before the fanfare of a night at the opera

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November 3, 2011

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Sotheby's London sale of European paintings estimated to bring in excess of £11 million

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Matthew Barton Ltd's largest sale so far includes section devoted to ceramics

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