On Wednesday 18 November, Artcurial
will hold its major sale of Old Master & 19th Century Art, which takes place twice a year. There will be over 180 works of art on offer, with paintings, drawings and sculptures ranging from a rare German Renaissance panel depicting the story of Judith and Holofernes to an important selection of 19th century works of art. Other highlights to be offered by the auction house include an extraordinary selection of monumental paintings as well as pieces from the Donon Maigret Collection that highlights a predilection for French 18th century art inherited from Dormeuil. The second part of this collection will be offered in the Furniture & Works of Art sale on 9 December.
« Judith and Holofernes » and other Renaissance masterpieces
A highlight of the sale on 18 November will be a magnificent example of the enigmatic production of German Renaissance painters : an oil on board depicting Judith carrying the head of Holofernes, attributed to Melchior Feselen (est: 400 000 - 600 000 ). While the subject of this small painting is well known the biblical heroine Judith, who slaughtered the tyrant Holofernes the manner in which it has been executed, employing a portrait format tightly framed around the bust of the characters, is more unusual and striking. The date it was painted is shown on the fortified door: 1535. This is a particularly rare and early German Renaissance piece that is highly original for the way it combines an elegant and refined style with a harsh realist approach. The stunning Deposition from the cross by Ambrosius Benson and his workshop (est: 150 000 - 250 000 ), the portrait of Antoine de Bourbon, father of King Henri IV, by Corneille de Lyon (est: 50 000 70 000 ), the portrait of Margherita Gonzaga by Frans Pourbus the Younger (est: 70 000 100 000 ) and a village fair by Marten van Cleve complete the artistic panorama of the 16th and early 17th century.
A major discovery in the history of art will be unveiled during this special event session: a Penitent Magdalene by Gian Giacomo Caprotti, known as Salaì, an original work by Leonardo da Vincis closest collaborator. Identified by art historians, this oil on panel is one of the very few works perfectly recognized as being made by him, impregnated as closely as possible with the technique of the master Leonardo da Vinci with whom he worked (is: 100 000 - 150 000 ).
« In the field of Old Masters, it is rare for Artcurial to have such a large number of masterpieces on offer. This will be an important event with many discoveries to be made! » --Matthieu Fournier, Auctioneer, Associate Director, Artcurial
The Donon-Maigret Collection, legacy of the Dormeuil taste Also starring in the sale will be some twenty paintings and drawings from the Donon- Maigret collection. Descended from the Dormeuil family, the preferences of these collectors build on the legacy of the great fashion designer with a strong leaning towards French 18th century art. Artcurial is proud to reveal a vibrant oil on canvas representing Apollon et les muses by Jean-François de Troy, the finest painting to be rediscovered in recent years by this artist, estimated at 100 000 - 150 000 . There will also be works by Joseph-Marie Vien, Jean-Baptiste Huet, Jean-Baptiste Le Prince and Hubert Robert.
Coming from a different collection is a representation of Lévanouissement dEsther, also by Jean-François de Troy and once owned by Karl Lagerfeld (estimate : 80 000 - 120 000 ), as well as a stunning oil on canvas by Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Comédiens italiens dans un parc. This is a rare work by this French artist who is better known for his still life paintings with dead animals and also depictions of exotic animals. It is estimated to fetch between 100 000 - 150 000 .
A selection of monumental paintings
Far from being the prerogative of modern and contemporary artists, it was common for artists to work on a large-scale before the 19th century, whether for tapestry projects or decorative paintings destined to hang in large residences.
An interesting selection of ambitious paintings, measuring between 1.5m to 3m in width or height, will complete the sale, with pieces principally coming from the French school. These include La diseuse de bonne aventure from the studio of François Boucher (estimate: 50 000 - 70 000 ) and Scène de tempête sur la côte méditerranéenne by Henry dArles (estimate : 40 000 - 60 000 ).
Italian painting will also be represented with a painting from the Florentine school from circa 1630, Lucrèce, created by the circle of Artemisia Gentileschi (estimate : 60 000 - 80 000 ) as well as the representation of Renaud and Armide by Pietro Liberi (estimate : 30 000 - 40 000 ). There will also be paintings from the Flemish school such as Garland of flowers, fruits and vegetable framing a landscape by Frans Ykens (estimate : 50 000 - 70 000 ).
The grand masters of the 19th century
The masters of 19th century French painting will be in the spotlight, highlighted by the oil on canvas Barque de pêche by Jean-François Millet, a fascinating and light-filled painting that is a rare example of his seascapes. It is estimated at 400 000 to 600 000 . The back of the painting with numerous labels attest to its rich history. Coming from Millets studio at the hôtel Marcel Dassault, this painting has been hung on prestigious picture rails alongside timeless masterpieces. Duncan, Desfossés, the Cognacqs are the successive owners of Millets Barque de pêche, all known for eclectic tastes that favour the 19th century and the painters active in France who embraced modernism at the turn of the 20th century .
Another highlight in the sale will be a painting by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux « Why born a slave? » (estimate : 60 000 80 000 ). This striking piece bears witness to the artists committed approach towards the end of the 19th century at a time when France had abolished slavery for the second time just 20 years earlier. Painted with expressive brushstrokes typical of the style employed by Carpeaux when working on canvas, this recently rediscovered version of « Why born a slave? » can now be added to the body of paintings made by the sculptor depicting his own works. Three sculptures and another painting by the artist will also be presented in the sale.
Other major 19th century pieces in the section include La nuit et le jour by Hugues Merle (estimate : 25 000 35 000 ) and Portrait de Jules Watelet enfant au bilboquet by Jules Bastien-Lepage (estimate : 120 000 - 180 000 ). A pen and ink study of a cavalier by Eugène Delacroix (estimate : 10 000 - 15 000 ) is one of a set of six drawings by the master of Romanticism.
Sculptures in the sale include Volubilis in white marble by Alfred Boucher, a piece paying tribute to the work of his friend Auguste Rodin and also to Michelangelo (estimate: 20 000 - 30 000 ). Another piece, Salammbô, by Théodore Rivière in bronze and ivory coming from the Château de Gourdon collection is estimated at 20 000 - 30 000 .