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Thursday, August 2, 2012

THE CREAM OF THE OLD MASTERS CROP



The cream of the Old Masters crop
Works by Constable, Rembrandt and Hans Baldung Grien come to the block at Sotheby’s and Christie’s

By Paul Jeromack. Published online: 02 July 2012

London. Christie’s is due to offer a splendid selection of works in its evening auction of Old Master paintings on 3 July, crowned by Carmen “Tita” Thyssen’s Constable, The Lock, 1824 (est £20m-£25m), a last-minute addition to the sale.

The auction house received a consignment of 15 works from the Pieter and Olga Dreesmann collection of 17th-century Dutch paintings in early spring, including Rembrandt’s A man in a gorget and cap, 1626-27 (est £8m-£12m), and The interior of the Nieuwe Kerk, Haarlem, 1658, by Pieter Jansz. Saenredam (est £1.2m-£1.8m). These works acted as a powerful magnet for more Dutch pictures, the most notable being a lush, beautifully preserved masterpiece by Jan Davidsz. de Heem, Flowers in a glass vase on a draped table, with a silver tazza, fruit, insects and birds, late 1660s. The work’s estimate of £1.2m to £1.8m seems curiously restrained, given that the painting has long been acknowledged as one of De Heem’s masterpieces.

One of the other Dutch paintings in the sale is an accidental discovery: a Christie’s representative in Paris went to visit a grand household in case there were any worthwhile paintings tucked away. A thorough search yielded nothing, and the disappointed representative was just about to leave when the lady of the house said: “Oh, you might as well check this cabinet.” Inside was Joachim Wtewael’s Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan, 1610, which has been untraced since its acquisition by the family in around 1836.

Several fine pictures by Wtewael have been discovered in recent years, most notably Adam and Eve, 1610-15, which brought a record price of $6.2m at Sotheby’s New York in January 2011. This season’s erotic masterpiece is related to earlier compositions of the subject in the Mauritshuis and the Getty, and is confidently estimated at between £2m and £4m.


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