'Portrait of Baron de Robeck Riding a Bay Hunter' (1791), by George Stubbs; estimate: £2 million-£3 million.
Old Masters, New Interest
(Source Wallstreet Journal) Old master dealers and auctioneers have joined forces to launch Master Paintings Week (July 4-10), a new event on London's art-collecting calendar.
Some 23 of the city's top international galleries will stage special painting exhibitions. Auction houses will hold a series of sales featuring works of European art from the 14th to the mid-19th century.
Running parallel will be Master Drawings London, now in its ninth year, where international dealers will offer hundreds of years of art-on-paper up to the present day.
Seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish painting specialist Johnny Van Haeften says that old-master paintings have an image problem in that many people think of them as "dark and dreary, but in fact I think they would be surprised at just how vibrant and fascinating they can be." Among his offerings will be Jan Brueghel the Elder's "Still Life of Flowers in a Blue and White Vase," full of dancing blooms and priced in the region of $5 million.
Old Bond Street's Colnaghi Gallery will focus on the German Renaissance master Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), an artist who has had tremendous influence into the present day. His milk-white, virtuous-yet-dangerous nudes have inspired everything from German expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's colorful sirens to contemporary American artist John Currin's strangely twisted female portraits. Not least, Cranach's Garden-of-Eden painting "Temptation" became known to global TV viewers as the frontispiece for credit lines in the series "Desperate Housewives."
Among the highlights at Sotheby's evening sale on July 8 will be two major equestrian paintings: Goya's 1794 portrait of Spain's Duke of Alcudia seated on a prancing horse with a threatening sky in the background (estimate: £2.5 million-£3.5 million); and star British equestrian artist George Stubbs's delightful 1791 painting of Baron de Robeck on his proud hunter (estimate: £2 million-£3 million).
Another highlight at Sotheby's will be a portrait from 1628 by Dutch master Anthony Van Dyck of his friend Endymion Porter dressed in a rich, satin doublet and a flowing red cap. The work illustrates the artist's incredible ability to capture the essence of his sitter, and has never been offered at auction before (estimate: £1 million-£1.5 million).
A major Van Dyck at Christie's on July 7 will be a portrait of a richly dressed, pregnant "Mrs. Oliver St. John later Lady Poulett" (1636), which was last seen in public at a Detroit Institute of Fine Arts exhibition in 1929 (estimate: £800,000-£1.2 million).