Follow Us on Twitter

Master Paintings Week 2010

Charles Beddington Ltd. Johan Richter (1665-1745). The Giudecca Canal and the Zattere, Oil on canvas, 84 x 136.5 cm

Event preview

FOLLOWING the success of London’s first Master Paintings Week in 2009, twenty-five of the world’s leading dealers and the three major auction houses will once again demonstrate the unparalleled expertise and quality of works of art available in the city.

Emphasising the importance of London, seven of the participating galleries originated elsewhere: Italy, Paris, New York and Stockholm.

From Saturday, July 3 to Friday, July 9, 2010, the collaborating galleries and auction houses will offer an extraordinary selection of predominantly European paintings dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries alongside another dealer initiative, Master Drawings London (July 3 to July 9), which together will make the city an essential destination for private collectors, museum curators, art historians and art lovers from around the world.

Tiepolo, Rubens, Turner, Guercino, Brueghel, Murillo, Van Ruysdael, Van Dyck, Constable and Benjamin West are just some of the most famous artists of the western world whose works will be available together with those by lesser-known masters of the highest quality.

Amongst the earliest pieces are the moving Bohemian School Martyrdom of St Barbara, c.1390, (Simon Dickinson) and a triptych centred on the Crucifixion by Jacopo di Cione (Florence, documented 1365-1398) (Moretti Fine Art), while one of the more recent is a noble Head of an African by Léon de Troy dating from around 1880 (Ben Elwes Fine Art).

Agnew’s will be showing Old Master Paintings for the first time in their new Albemarle Street galleries. Highlights include Benjamin West’s (1738-1820) Cupid and Psyche, painted in London in 1808 but not seen in this country for over a century.

Born in Pennsylvania, West travelled to Italy in 1760 before moving to England in 1763 where he became the favourite artist of King George III. A founder member of the Royal Academy, he succeeded Reynolds as its second President in 1792, a position he held until his death in 1820 when he was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Italian paintings at Agnew’s will include a superb Holy Family of c.1609 by the rare Parma artist Bartolomeo Schedoni (1578-1615), a beautiful painting that was until 2008 only known to modern scholars from a photograph of c.1972 in the Witt Library, by which time it was in the Herman Correa Borguez collection in Santiago, Chile.

Among the fine works to be offered by Verner Åmell will be Portrait of a young woman with a black scarf by Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805), which was in the celebrated collection of Pierre-Louis Pau Randon de Boisset (1708-1776), who had one of the finest Dutch and Flemish picture cabinets in Europe.

Also of note is the Portrait of David Papillon (1691-1762), standing full-length, holding a bow and quiver, a spaniel at his side by John Closterman (1660-1713). Papillon was the grandson of David Papillon, the French Huguenot and military engineer who built Papillon Hall in Leicestershire between 1622 and 1624.

Charles Beddington‘s particular speciality is 18th century Italian views and he will be showing Venice: the Giudecca Canal and the Zattere by Johan Richter (1665-1745) who was unique among Italian 18th century view painters being of Scandinavian origin but spending over half his life in Venice. This fine work was in the exceptional collection of Venetian view paintings assembled before the Second World War by Dmitri Tziracopoulo.

The gallery also offers the moving Head study of a youth by Jacopo Vignali (1592-1664) which at one time belonged to Sir Thomas Lawrence PRA, one of the greatest collectors of his day.

To commemorate their 250th anniversary, P & D Colnaghi will stage an exhibition Colnaghi: 250 years of dealing in art which focuses on the history of the gallery, particularly one of the most important of its sales, Titian’s Europa bought by Isabella Stewart Gardner and now in the Museum, Boston.

Also on display will be selected material from the Colnaghi archive such as a letter from John Constable. The gallery will also show such luscious works as A basket of grapes, a bowl of cherries, a silver-gilt columbine cup and fruit in porcelain bowls, on a draped table by François Habert (active France c.1650) and The Oyster Eater by Henri Stresor (1613?-1679) depicting a boy guiltily putting an oyster into his mouth.

Ben Elwes Fine Art has gained a reputation for handling anti-slavery paintings, recently selling such works to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Smithsonian. Continuing this theme the gallery will show a major picture by British artist William Gale (1823-1909), The Ranaway Slave, depicting a mulatto female slave being captured by an American bounty hunter. Exhibited in 1856 it was part of the outraged response, both political and artistic, to the notorious Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 under which escapees were obliged to be returned to their owners.

Another fine work of American interest is Portrait of Mary Louise McBride (Mrs Homer Saint-Gaudens), 1929, by the Belgian painter Louis Buisseret (1888-1956). She was the second wife of Homer Saint-Gaudens, son of the great American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Homer had a distinguished career as a critic, stage director and writer as well as being Director of Fine Arts at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, from 1922 to 1950, and was widely decorated both for his military service during the war and his services to art.

Portrait of a Young Artist attributed to Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson (1767-1824) is a charming painting of a boy of about 14 with his long hair brushed forward in the height of style in Napoleonic Paris.

Deborah Gage, joining Master Paintings Week for the first time, will stage an exhibition entitled The Real and the Idealised: A Selection of European Religious and Mythological Paintings from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

One of the highlights is The Holy Family in the Carpenter’s Shop by Bartolomé Estaban Murillo (1618-1682), a monumental and emotive early work with an illustrious provenance having been in the collection of the Infante of Spain, the Archbishop of Toledo and finally in the collection of the King William I of the Netherlands and by descent to Princess Juliana of the Netherlands.

Other fine works will include John the Baptist preaching by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770), and the recent emergence of an extraordinarily powerful depiction of Christ carrying the Cross is an exciting new addition to a small group of paintings ascribed to Giovanni Bellini (c/1430-1516) and his immediate circle.

Richard Green, who has been dealing in Old Master paintings for 55 years, will feature, among other schools, a number of fine Dutch and Flemish works including A river view with the town of Weesp by Salomon van Ruysdael (1600/03-1670), one of the originators of naturalistic landscape painting and stately river views celebrating the special beauty of Holland’s inland waterways, of which this is a prime example.

It has a distinguished provenance having belonged to the Marquis of Biencourt who in 1791 bought the famous Château d’Azay-le-Rideau on the Loire, later acquired by Gustave Rothan, a diplomat and author whose collection was famous in Paris in 1874, followed by Adolphe Schloss much of whose collection of 355 paintings was looted from France for Hitler and Göring but recovered after the war.

The gallery will also feature the delightful Portrait of an eight-year-old boy, possibly of the Blauhulck family, holding a horse from the Circle of Jan Claesz. (1570-after 1618), which recently came to light in a French private collection. Such portraits are extremely rare and were only painted in West Friesland, the most northerly part of Holland, especially the town of Enkhuizen where Claesz. was born.

Johnny Van Haeften, who specialises in 16th and 17th century Dutch and Flemish artists, has an extraordinary painting on copper by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564/5-1637/8) illustrating Flemish proverbs.

At first sight this work depicts a Flemish walled town populated with people busily engaged in a variety of seemingly absurd activities. In fact the entire picture is dotted with engaging little scenes each representing a popular saying or proverb. Remarkably, more than one hundred scenes are woven into the composition which measures only 49 × 66.2 cm.

In contrast to this humorous depiction of peasant life, the exhibition will include The card players by Gerard Terborch (1617-1681), an exquisitely refined painting depicting three elegantly dressed figures in a sophisticated interior, as well as a beautiful rendition of a vase of flowers painted on copper by Jan Van Thielen (1618-1667).

Fergus Hall will mount an exhibition 17th century Dutch and Flemish Paintings and British Old Masters which will include a beautiful panoramic river valley landscape by Herman Saftleven (1609-1685), and a sporting picture of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel by the Cumberland-born English animal painter Sawrey Gilpin (1733-1807).

Derek Johns will offer fine paintings including Le Lever de l’Aurore by Louis Jean François Lagrenée (1724-1805), part of a set of four depicting The Hours, and Sylvia freed by Amyntas, a beguiling work by Willem van Mieris (1662-1747), which was auctioned in the artist’s lifetime for fl. 220.

John Mitchell Fine Paintings specialises in European flower paintings and will show a prime example by one of the leading painters of the genre, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (1573-1621),Roses, tulips, anemome, cyclamen and other flowers in a porcelain vase with a red admiral butterfly.

The rediscovery of Saint George and the Dragon by Johann König (1586-1642), a jewel-like painting on copper, is an important addition to the oeuvre of the artist, the son of a Nuremberg goldsmith.

A saucy painting of two young lovers, Le voleur adroit ou la cage dérobée by Parisian artist Nöel Hallé (1711-1781) will also raise a smile.

Moatti Fine Arts will stage their first show dedicated to Old Master paintings which will include Arab rider and his horse resting by a stream by the French Orientalist painter Théodore Chassériau (1819-1856) who in 1846 travelled to North Africa and made detailed drawings of the local people.

This romantic work originally belonged to the artist’s second cousin Baron Arthur Chassériau who was an avid collector and gave more than 77 paintings and 2,200 drawings by Chassériau to the Musée du Louvre and other museums.

Portrait of Doña Mariana de Silva y Sarmiento, Duquesa de Huescar, later Arcos (1740-1784) is by the German-born artist Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779), who became Primer Pintor to the Spanish court. It was painted on the day of the sitter’s second marriage and left unfinished due to a crack in the panel support of the picture so the artist painted a second version that entered the collections of the Dukes of Alba.

Visitors to Moretti Fine Art Ltd will have the opportunity to admire the Madonna and Child Enthroned between St Anthony Abbot, St Mary Magdalen (?), a Bishop Saint, Saint Catherine of Alexandria and eight angels by Jacopo di Cione, c.1365-70, that was so well received in New York.

They will also be exhibiting a recent acquisition, Nativity by Liberale Da Verona (1445-1526/29), that was in the collection of Philipp von Stosch (1691-1757), a famous antique dealer and Prussian patron.

Philip Mould, the foremost expert in British portraiture, will offer Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s self-portrait of 1640, his last, which is one of the most arresting portraits painted in England in the 17th century and was to become, after his death in 1641, the defining image of the artist.

Also on view will be a charming and unusual English School portrait of Stephen Phesant (1617-1660) and his elder sister Mary (b.1616) who have only recently been identified. A recently rediscovered Flemish School portrait of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Spain (1500-1558) depicts the most powerful man in Europe in the early 16th century who ruled half the known world as well as much of the ‘New World’.

Piacenti Art Gallery, exhibiting for the first time in Master Paintings Week, specialises in Tuscan art and the exhibition will include many distinguished examples including a spectacularly well-preserved panel painting Madonna with Child by Lorenzo d’Andrea d’Oderigo called Lorenzo di Credi (1459/60-1537) who trained with Perugino and Leonardo da Vinci in the shop of Verrocchio. He was praised by Vasari for his rich palette and painstaking technique, both of which are clearly demonstrated in this tender depiction.

Robilant & Voena and Stair Sainty, the latter participating in Master Paintings Week for the first time, will join forces to present an exhibition entitled A History of Taste: Highlights of Italian and French Painting which includes an elegant portrait of a Noblewoman with her daughter by one of the most important Florentine portrait painters Santi di Tito (1536-1603) who, as a young man, had worked on the Studiolo of Francesco I de’ Medici.

Of great interest will be a delightful view of the Spanish king’s favourite residence, The Royal Palace of Aranjuez from the North-East, with King Ferdinand VI of Spain and Queen Maria Bárbara de Braganza on the Royal Barge by Antonio Joli (1700-1777), and The Pantheon by Frans Vervloet (1795-1872), who arrived in Rome in 1822, and whose views were greatly prized.

Other highlights are the lively classical work Ulysses recognises Achilles amongst the daughters of Lycomedes by Louis Gauffier (1762-1801), a scene from the Iliad, Homer’s epic poem of the Trojan War, which was exhibited in the 1791 Salon; and the peaceful Village au pied des montagnes by Louis-Auguste Lapito (1803-1874).

Sphinx Fine Art will present The Collectors: Old Master Paintings, an exhibition comprising 100 works by artists that were prized by a dozen of the world’s most exacting patrons, all of whose works are now in the Hermitage, St Petersburg. The collectors are from all over Europe but what binds them together is the fact that Russia sought to own their works and succeeded in wresting them from their impoverished or disorganised nations after their deaths.

The exhibition includes a pair of Italian landscapes by one of Catherine the Great’s favourite artists, Jacob Philipp Hackert (1737-1807), and such historical works as Philips Wouwerman’s (1619-1668) Hawking Party, a painting Catherine knew well as she owned its pair. From the Walpole family, whose patriarch Horace Walpole’s collection was bought by Catherine provoking intense scandal in 18th century Britain about the demise of British power, is the Portrait of Maria Walpole by Francis Cotes RA (1726-1770).

The exhibition gives a fascinating insight into the tastes of some of the greatest politicians, monarchs, artists, and patrons of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Two contrasting works will be found at William Thuillier, a stunning and rare double portrait of the Earl and Countess of Oxford by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680), who quickly established himself as a portraitist to Charles I after his arrival in London then, swiftly changing his patrons, his reputation and fortune grew steadily and after the execution of the king he served under Oliver Cromwell and his son. In 1660 Charles II appointed Lely his Principal Painter in Ordinary.

A view of the Grand Canal, Venice, with soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian Army crossing in a ferry and Grand Tourists being shown the sights by Ambros Ivo Vermersch (1810-1852) is also of interest. The presence of soldiers in this serene view of Venice may be explained by the fact that Vermersch started his career in the army and, at the time, Venice was still under the dominance of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Michael Tollemache Fine Art will exhibit British Portraits 1640-1810 which will include Maria, 6th Countess of Dysart, in the character of Miranda, in The Tempest by John Constable RA (1776-1837), signed and dated 1807, and Portrait of Lady Mary Maitland, 2nd Marchioness of Tweeddale by Jacob Huysmans (c.1633-1680/96).

Among the works to be seen at Trafalgar Galleries will be A Gypsy Fortune-teller with other figures in a mountainous landscape by David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690), which is in the Illustrated Dictionary of 17th Century Flemish Painters by J. de Maere and M. Wabbes. The artist’s wife Anna Alvolara served as the model for The Madonna and Child with the Infant St John, a landscape beyond, a hitherto lost painting by Pierre Mignard called Le Roman (1612-1695).

One of Rafael Valls‘ great passions is trompe l’oeil painting. For Master Paintings Week the gallery will mount for the first time an exhibition of these entertaining paintings including A Trompe l’Oeil of Hawking Equipment by the Dutch artist Christoffel Pierson (1631-1714).

Among works of other subjects will be a fascinating painting by Jan Brueghel II (1601-1678) & Studio, A landscape with studies of Dromedaries and their Keepers, painted at a time when the dromedary was a rare beast in Europe, only to be seen in such famous menageries as that of Rudolf II in Prague.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of The Weiss Gallery, a celebratory exhibition will include many of the most important works that Mark Weiss has sold to UK institutions and private clients over the years.

Complementing this loan exhibition, which includes works by such artists as Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Franz Pourbus and Jean-Antoine Watteau, will be a selection of paintings for sale such as the intimate study of Alice More, the second wife of Sir Thomas More, from the Studio of Hans Holbein the Younger (c.1497/98-1543).

It is the only surviving contemporary likeness of Alice and, although once considered to be the hand of Holbein himself, it was more likely produced under his supervision by his studio in Basel. Intriguingly, infra-red examination shows it to have been painted over an unfinished portrait of the Humanist scholar and philosopher Desiderius Erasmus, Sir Thomas More’s great intellectual rival and friend.

A recently discovered unique portrait of Elizabeth, Electress of Palatine and Queen of Bohemia (1596-1662), better known as The Winter Queen, was painted in The Hague during her exile by Michiel Jansz. Van Miereveld (1567-1641), one of the most successful Dutch 17th century portraitists.

Whitfield is marking the 400th anniversary of the death of Caravaggio with a major exhibition including important loans, many of which will be exhibited for the first time in Britain.

Caravaggio’s Friends & Foes will include a dramatically foreshortened St Sebastian by Louis Finson (1580-1617) who travelled to Italy from his native Bruges and came to own a number of works by Caravaggio, clearly realising the significance of that artist’s revolutionary painting technique.

There are also three works by the French-born Jean Ducamps called Giovanni del Campo (c.1600-1638) who actually lived with Caravaggio for a time in Rome. His The Liberation of St Peter has long been admired as an outstanding Caravaggesque masterpiece and its recent cleaning has further revealed its quality while the brushwork in St Jerome demonstrates the confidence with which Ducamps took on the challenge of depicting this saint in a new way.

Important Old Master Paintings sales will take place during Master Paintings Week at all three major auction houses.

Highlights of Bonhams‘ sale on Wednesday, July 7 will include The head of a bearded man, a sketch for the left-hand figure in The Visitation, the altarpiece executed between 1584 and 1586 for the Chiesa Nuova in Rome by Federico Barocci (Urbino c.1526-1612), estimate £50,000-£80,000.

Also of note are A young boy making bubbles by Caspar Netscher (1639-1684), dated 1670, which was acquired by Alexander Baring, Lord Ashburton, in 1832 for £157.10, estimate £60,000-£80,000; and A portrait of a young girl holding a posy of flowers and a young boy in a landscape by Ferdinand Bol (1616-1680), which was sold by the Trustees of the Stoneleigh Settlement in 1981, estimate £100,000-£150,000.

Christie’s sale on Tuesday, July 6 includes two highly important paintings from Althorp and Spencer House, the ancestral homes of the Spencer family. Portrait of a commander, three-quarter-length, being dressed for battle by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), estimate £8-12 million, is described by Christie’s as one of the most important works by the artist to remain in private hands in the UK.

And King David by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, Il Guercino (1591-1666), acquired by the 1st Earl Spencer in 1768, has an estimate of £5-8 million. Originally commissioned in 1651 by Giuseppe Locatelli for Palazzo Locatelli in Cesena, it was bought specifically to hang in the Great Room at Spencer House.

Sotheby’s evening sale on Wednesday, July 7 will include Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino, a luminous work by Joseph Mallard William Turner RA (1775-1851), undoubtedly one of the most important Turners ever to come to auction, estimate £12-18 million. Painted in 1839, this breathtaking painting has only appeared once on the market before.

It has an impeccable provenance, having been bought by the 5th Earl of Rosebery and his wife Hannah Rothschild in 1878 and has remained in the family ever since. The painting has featured in no fewer than three exhibitions at the Royal Academy and has also been on public exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Tate and more recently in the highly acclaimed JMW Turner show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

All these galleries are in the heart of London’s Mayfair and St James’s, a short walk from one another, and will be open during Master Paintings Week on Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm, Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 12 noon to 5pm. The auction houses will be open from 9am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday and 12 noon to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.

Master Paintings Week Gallery