Koller to offer Old Masters and 19th century paintings held for decades in private collections

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Koller to offer Old Masters and 19th century paintings held for decades in private collections
Marten van Cleve the Elder (and Workshop?), A village outdoor wedding. Oil on panel. 77 × 107.5 cm. Estimate: CHF 150 000/250 000.

ZURICH.- A monumental, museum-quality tempera and gold ground on panel painting by Florentine artist Bicci di Lorenzo has come to auction at Koller after decades in a private collection (lot 3007, CHF 250 000/350 000). Created circa 1445/50, this is a mature work by Bicci, who received numerous important commissions in his day and worked alongside such masters as Domenico Veneziano and Piero della Francesca. In this masterwork, Bicci artfully blends the International Gothic style with his Florentine roots, utilising his unique and powerful technique to its fullest.

Recently discovered in a Swiss private collection, an early still life by Milan artist Fede di Galizia is an extreme rarity on the art market (lot 3018, CHF 150 000/200 000). The daughter of miniature artist Nunzio Galizia, Fede managed not only to establish her place in a male-dominated profession, but to significantly contribute to the development of the still life genre in Italy in the early 17th century. Only about twenty of Fede Galizia’s still lifes are known, so this most recent addition to her body of work is certain to create a sensation.

Other notable works in the Old Masters auction on 27 March include a pair of large-format harbour views by Charles François Lacroix de Marseille (lot 3073, CHF 200 000/300 000). Lacroix, who most likely trained under fellow French painter Charles-Joseph Vernet, is especially known for his small-format marine and landscape paintings; important works of the size of the present pair seldom come up at auction. An early floral still life by the pioneering master of the genre, Balthasar van der Ast, will also be offered (lot 3027, CHF 200 000/300 000), as well as a boisterous depiction of an outdoor wedding à la Brueghel by Marten van Cleve the Elder (lot 3021, CHF 150 000/250 000), and an early gold ground Crucifixion scene by the Master of the Misericordia, a sensitively-painted example from the rich period in Italian art following Giotto (lot 3011, CHF 50 000/70 000).

The auction on 27 March also features a group of works to be sold in a special session entitled “From Corot to Purrmann: paintings from a Swiss private collection”. No less than three landscapes by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot will be presented, including “Passiance (Landes)” from 1872, with a provenance stretching back to its direct acquisition from the artist (lot 3110, CHF 40 000/60 000). Other 19th-century works from the collection include a harbour view at Trouville by Eugène Louis Boudin (lot 3107, CHF 40 000/60 000), and a floral bouquet by Henri-Fantin Latour (lot 3102, CHF 40 000/60 000).

This same collection also contains an interesting selection of modern works to be offered on 27 March, such as two paintings by Max Liebermann, “Floral terrace in the Wannsee garden facing north”, 1918 (lot 3115, CHF 250 000/350 000), and a dynamic depiction of skaters in the Berlin Tiergarten, 1921 (lot 3122, CHF 150 000/200 000). A portrait by Lovis Corinth, “Mask in white dress”, 1902 (lot 3118, CHF 100 000/150 000) is captivating, and even more so when one knows that it is a portrait of his future wife, whom he met around this time.

Another private collection will be presented in a single-owner auction on 24 March: The Dr Paul and Ursula Müller-Frei Collection. The Müller-Freis collected in a wide range of categories, from fine Meissen porcelain to English silver and 18th-century French furniture. Their tastes extended to Old Master paintings as well, such as a Madonna and Child in a floral surround by 17th-century Flemish painters Daniel Seghers and Erasmus Quellinus the Younger (lot 1524, CHF 40 000/60 000), and a Nativity scene by Ignaz Stern (lot 1521, CHF 20 000/30 000).

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