Christie’s, the venerable auction house founded in 1766, is hosting sales of extraordinary art this week.
The first, “The Scholar’s Eye: Property from the Julius Held Collection,” is especially intriguing because of the collector. Julius Held was a distinguished professor of art history who amassed almost 1,000 items on his comparatively modest salary. He searched out good pictures by artists who were not widely known and also bought works by modern artists with whom he was acquainted.
The auction will be held in two sessions, Jan. 27 starting at 2 p.m. and Jan. 30 at 10 a.m.
One highlight to go under the gavel is “Allegory of Folly” by Quentin Massys (1466-1530). According to Christie’s, the grotesque fool “carries a staff topped with the carved figure of a smaller fool dropping his trousers—an obscene gesture that was once painted over by a previous owner who found it overly shocking.”
Massys' "Allegory of Folly"
Estimate for this work? $300,000-$500,000. (Estimates do not include the buyer’s premium.)
Also on tap this week is the “Important Old Master Paintings and Sculpture” sale on Jan. 28 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., featuring more than 200 pieces.
Among the items being sold are exceptional watercolors by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), including an unusual study of a woman. The paintings come from the collection of philanthropists William and Eleanor Wood Prince, the previous owners of Turner’s “Giudecca, La Donna della Salute and San Giorgio,” which sold in 2006 at Christie’s for a record-breaking $35.8 million.
Deemed the “leading highlight of the group” is Turner’s “The Brunig Pass from Meiringen, Switzerland,” estimated at $1,500,000-$2,500,000.
Turner's "Brunig Pass from Meiringen, Switzerland"
Another remarkable piece being offered is the recently discovered “Head of Saint John the Evangelist” by Federico Barocci (1535-1612). Art historians believe that Barocci painted this oil on paper preparing for his “The Entombment of Christ,” an altarpiece for the church of Santa Croce in Senigallia. This painting is estimated at $400,000-$600,000.
Barocci's "Head of Saint John the Evangelist"
A très romantique work by French court painter Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson is of Jacques-Joseph de Cathelineau, son of the peasant general, Jacques Cathelineau. After the general died, Girodet asked the son to pose for a study that would later be used in a full-sized portrait. Christie’s describes the study in oil as “a handsome though highly idealized depiction of the war hero Cathelineau portrayed with a faraway gaze and pleasantly mussed blond locks.” The estimate for this work is $800,000-$1,200,000.
Girodet's "Portrait of Jacques-Joseph de Cathelineau"
These auctions will be held at Christie’s in New York City, 20 Rockefeller Plaza. For more information, visit Christie’s Web site. If you are interested in online bidding, click here.
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