Christie's announces highlights included in the Old Masters Evening Sale

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Christie's announces highlights included in the Old Masters Evening Sale
Gaspar Van Wittel, called Vanvitelli, The Molo, Venice, looking West towards the entrance of the Grand Canal. Estimate £600,000-800,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.

LONDON.- Christie’s announces the Old Masters Evening Sale taking place live on 15 December as part of Classic Week. The sale, which comprises 48 lots encompassing six centuries of European Art, presents a rich array of paintings, as well as sculpture and works on paper, covering a multitude of subjects and mediums. The sale is particularly strong in works by Netherlandish artists of the Golden Age, led by a monumental pronkstilleven by Jan Davidsz. de Heem (lot 10), one of the finest still lifes to come onto the market this generation, (estimate £4,000,000-£6,000,000). Among the largest and most ambitiously conceived in the artist’s oeuvre, this painting marks a highpoint in his career, being the culmination of a series of four monumental canvases embarked on between 1640 and 1643, which together re-defined the genre and established de Heem as the pre-eminent still-life painter of the Golden Age. This picture has remained hidden from public view in the same private collection since the nineteenth century. It has only recently been brought to the attention of scholars and is offered here for sale, uncleaned, for the first time in more than two centuries.

A further notable work from this period is a rare and immaculately-preserved cabinet picture of cattle by Paulus Potter (lot 15), executed in 1647 when the artist was just 22, (estimate £2,000,000-3,000,000). This painting is a consummate example of Potter’s best work in the genre, combining scrupulous observation of the anatomy of the cattle with richly detailed renditions of texture and vivid effects of soft, glowing sunlight. With an especially distinguished provenance, this is arguably the finest painting by the artist still in private hands, unseen in public and untraced since the last time it was sold at auction in 1928.

Frans van Mieris, The Elder’s The Drummer Boy (lot 27), is a work of striking originality that can be considered one of the most important child genre scenes painted in Holland during the second half of the seventeenth century, (estimate £800,000-1,200,000). Untraced since its de-acquisition from the Alte Pinakothek Munich in 1929, and feared to be lost, the picture can now be properly re-instated into van Mieris’s oeuvre and its qualities appreciated at large for the first time in almost a century.

Turning to the Italian school, there is a beautifully-preserved panel of The Nativity, with the Journey to Egypt beyond by the Milanese artist Bernardino Luini, who was strongly influenced by Leonardo, (estimate £3,000,000-5,000,000). This painting can be counted among the masterpieces of Luini’s full maturity and has notable provenance: having been acquired by the Scottish agent, James Irvine for one major Scottish collector, Sir William Forbes, 7th Bt., it was subsequently sold to another, Sir Archibald Campbell, 2nd Bt. of Succoth. It has been in the same private collection since the early-nineteenth century and is one of finest and the best preserved of Luini’s religious panels to remain in private hands.

The sale also includes two exceptional panoramic view paintings of Venice and Messina, (lots 39 and 40) by Gaspar Van Wittel, called Vanvitelli, the pioneering painter of Italian vedute -, (lot 39), the Molo, Venice, looking West towards the entrance of the Grand Canal, (estimate £600,000-800,000). These works were originally commissioned by the influential French scholar, Michel-Ange de La Chausse.

Jean-Baptise Simeon Chardin’s bold painting of a dead rabbit (lot 35), is one of the earliest still lifes by the artist, who is celebrated as one of the greatest painters of the genre during the eighteenth century, (estimate £600,000-800,000). In a century that saw a certain frivolity at the height of fashion, Chardin’s calm, quiet, meditative works eschewed the seductive art of the age, and went on to influence subsequent generations of painters, including Manet.

London Classic Week comprises a marquee series of ten sales celebrating craftsmanship and the story of creativity across time, from Antiquity to the 21st century, to be offered across five online and five live auctions taking place from 24 November to 17 December. Classic Week features Old Master Paintings and Sculpture, British & European Art, Antiquities, and Valuable Books and Manuscripts. Works on paper are strongly represented this season, ranging from manuscript illuminations, Old Master and British Drawings and Watercolours, and Quentin Blake illustrations.

An exhibition and viewing for the Classic Week sales will take place at Christie’s King Street from 3 December – 16 December.

The exhibition, viewing and live sale will be taking place under socially distanced regulations, strictly adhering to government guidelines.

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