Arcimboldo / Auctions / OLD MASTERS - Sept 14, 2019

OLD MASTERS - Sept 14, 2019

Auction: 14/09/2019, 17:00

Masterpieces of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque Art


Convent Palace, Lazenska 4, Praha 1
6. - 13. September 2019 11:00 - 18:00
14. September 2019 11:00 - 17:00

Kaisersteinsky Palace, Malostranske namesti 1 37/24, Praha 1

Galerie Arcimboldo presents its 18th auction, OLD MASTERS, on Saturday, September 14, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. On offer are 67 carefully curated paintings and sculptures by Old Master artists dating from the Gothic period through the 18th century. All works for sale come from private collections in the Czech Republic and surrounding countries. The auction offers a wide range of themes and motifs, from mythological and religious motifs, to male and female portraits, to still lifes and landscapes, primarily from Italian, Dutch, Flemish, and German artists and schools. Of particular interest are a recently discovered painting by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo depicting the Old Testament figures of Hagar and Ishmael, a finely detailed floral still life by Daniel Seghers, a large painting by Francesco II Zugno depicting King Erysichton and the felling of a sacred tree and a very fine gilt bronze figure of Christ on the Column by Antonio Susini.


Hagar and Ishmael

Oil on canvas, 96.5 x 76 cm 

This recently discovered painting might very well be the first idea for the well-known canvas, a pendant to Abraham Visited by the Angels, of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. The pair was bought by the Scuola in 1785 and neither the first owners nor the original location are known. Molmenti attributed the paintings in 1909 to Giandomenico Tiepolo, but following extensive criticism, Eduard Sack, in his 1910 monograph on Tiepolo, returned the attribution to Giambattista, dating it to 1732. In the Scuola’s canvas, the story is more articulated, focusing on the culminating moment of the painful journey of Hagar and Ishmael in the desert. The Egyptian slave, who with the support of the barren Sarah had given a son - Ishmael - to Abraham, is expelled after the unexpected birth of Isaac, son and legitimate heir of Abraham, and forced to return to Egypt through the desert. During the journey, they run out of food and water; exhausted, the young man falls to the ground but Hagar’s despair is alleviated by the appearance of an angel who guides the woman to a well, comforting her with the revelation of Ishmael’s future: his destiny as the founder of a great nation. In the painting of the Scuola Grande, Tiepolo shows a renewed interest in the chiaroscuro taste of Piazzetta, even though the rich and intense chromatic quality and the preciousness of the details reveal a different sensitivity and a human emotion enlivened by an inimitable poetic substance.

A pathos whose intensity is fully revealed in this painting brings the composition of the Scuola Grande back to its original idea. In a bare setting, reduced to an indistinguishable mass in the background on the left, the figures of the mother and the son, as in a Pieta, are hit by a beam of light that illuminates the determined face of the young woman, suffused with a slight redness for the intensity of the moment and the paleness of the young man with his head bowed. The accents of emotion are woven into a light, trembling vibration of light and color that combines the vividness of the pictorial matter to a feeling of spontaneous mystical devotion.

A masterpiece of essentiality, the painting dates back to around 1732 and is precursor to the canvas with a similar subject from the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.

DANIEL SEGHERS (1590 - 1661)

Bouquet of Flowers in a Glass Vase on Stone Ledge with a Butterfly

oil on canvas, 67 x 56 cm

Important Flemish painter Daniel Seghers focused mainly on floral still lifes and excelled in the genre of “flower garland” painting. His paintings were highly valued during his life and became a part of many important aristocratic collections, including William I of Orange, Queen Christina I of Sweden , Charles I Stuart, Philip IV of Spain, Marie de Medici and Cardinal Scipione Caffarelli-Borghese. The artist came from Antwerp, where he became a member of the Guild of St. Luke as a student of Jan Brueghel the Elder, whose influence in his early works is clearly recognizable. In 1625 he became a Jesuit priest and worked in Brussels and Rome (where he co-laborated with Nicolas Poussin and Domenichino). All of his paintings have a live, natural feel and emerge significantly from the dark background. His color palette is full and bright. Seghers favored displaying the flowers that he knew from his homeland, or cultivated garden plants. He painted various kinds of flowers together, regardless of the time of year when these plants bloom. He often showed roses, tulips and other flora just before they blossomed. He mastered the depiction of details and complemented figural paintings by other artists with floral motifs or whole garland wreaths.

FRANCESCO II ZUGNO (1709 - 1787)

Erysichthon Cutting Down the Sacred Tree of Ceres

Francesco Zugno the Younger was active mainly in Venice. He comes from an important Venetian family with long-established painting roots. Francesco taught painting and sculpture at the Venice Academy and worked in the workshop of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, later becoming his collaborator. Together they have created several paintings between 1730 and 1737. His first important commissions were the paintings for the monastery church of San Lazzaro degli Armeni in Venice. The painting depicts King Erysichthon ordering to fell a sacred oak tree (Metamorphoses, Book VIII). The woman in the middle holding the tree is probably Erysichthon's daughter Mestra, whom he sold into slavery. For scorning the gods he was afflicted at once with an insatiable hunger, and eventually gnawed his own flesh and died. 

ANTONIO SUSINI (1558 - 1624)

Christ on the Column

gilt bronze, height 22 cm

Antonio Susini worked in the workshop of the Florentine sculptor Giambologna, one of the most important Mannerist sculptors in Italy. From 1580 - until he established his own studio in 1600 - Susini was one of Giambologna’s closest assistants. This fine bronze sculpture represents Christ tied to a post prior to his flogging. The figure is displayed in contrapposto, with slightly bent legs and his head leaning towards his shoulder. Christ has long flowing hair and his hands are tied behind his back. The column to which he is tied bears the weight of the composition. The statue stands out for its delicacy and elegance as well as refinement of detail that can be seen in the transitions between volumes, the modelling of the drapery, and the facial expression.


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