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Sotheby's to offer Old Master paintings from the estate of wife of magnate Charles Forte
Pieter de Hooch, Interior with a Child Feeding a Parrot. Est. $1.5/2 million. Photo: Sotheby's.
NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s New York auction of Important Old Master Paintings & Sculpture on 26 January 2012 will feature three paintings from the estate of Lady Forte, whose husband Charles Forte founded the global hotel and restaurant group Trusthouse Forte. The group comprises: Venice, A View of the Churches of the Redentore and San Giacomo… by iconic Venetian view painter Canaletto, which has not been seen on the market since 1986 (est. $5/7 million*); Jan van Huysum’s Still Life of Roses, Tulips, Peonies and Other Flowers in a Sculpted Stone Vase…, which is one of the artist’s most accomplished pieces painted on copper (est. $4/6 million); and Interior with a Child Feeding a Parrot, a charming and Vermeer-like work by Pieter de Hooch (est. $1.5/2 million). The works will be on exhibition in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries beginning 22 January, alongside the full sale.

Born in England, Lady Forte was the daughter of Italian immigrants from Venice. They ran a delicatessen in Soho, London where she worked as a young girl helping her mother, until the building was destroyed during World War II. It was there that she met Charles Forte, who had opened the Strand Milk Bar Ltd. on Regent Street in 1935, at the age of 26. Lord Forte went on to develop a multi-billion dollar empire built on hotels and restaurants, including the George V and Plaza-Athénée Paris, the Ritz Madrid, the Hyde Park Hotel London (Mandarin) and the Westbury and Plaza-Athénée New York. Other enterprises included Posthouses, Travelodges and Little Chefs. Lord Forte served as CEO of Trusthouse Forte from 1971 and as Chairman from 1982. Lady Forte had six children and was devoted to her family throughout her life, as well as the many charities that she supported.

Canaletto painted the present view of the churches of the Redentore and San Giacomo in Venice between 1747 and 1755. The canvas was originally conceived as one of a pair, which was sold at Sotheby’s along with its pendant – now in a private
collection – in 1960. Both views display Canaletto’s customary attention to detail, and additionally demonstrate his strength in painting movement, such as the gondoliers entering the composition at lower right.

Painted on a large sheet of copper, Still Life of Roses, Tulips, Peonies and Other Flowers in a Sculpted Stone Vase… is an important but little known work by Jan van Huysum, the leading still life painter of the 18th century. The work has a distinguished provenance, having belonged to the Counts Czernin von Chudenitz in Vienna throughout the 19th and part of the 20th centuries. It is one of a relatively few number of flower or fruit still lifes that van Huysum painted on a copper support, and along with an example in the Staatliches Museum in Schwerin, it is among his largest and most ambitious works in the medium.

Interior with a Child Feeding a Parrot was painted by Pieter de Hooch around 1668-72, some seven or eight years after the artist’s move from Delft to Amsterdam, and it is one of his most elegant and engaging works that survive from this period (est. $1.5/2 million). As in his earlier years in Delft, the most common subjects of de Hooch’s work at this date continued to be domestic interiors. However, interiors such as the present canvas are increasingly grand and the figures within them more expensively attired, reflecting the artist’s wealthier and more cosmopolitan clientele in Amsterdam.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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December 12, 2011

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