Historical Bust, Frieze Showcase Upcoming Sotheby’s Old Masters Auction

This Houdon bust of Jacques-Antoine-Hippolyte, the Comte de Guibert, was commissioned for the famed French general by his widow in 1791. It is one of several sculptures that will be offered in Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings and Sculpture auction set for Feb. 1.

NEW YORK — A host of important sculpture pieces are set for sale in February, including a marble bust of famed French military tactician Jacques-Antoine-Hippoltye, the Comte de Guibert.

The items are part of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings and Sculpture auction and are set to sell on Feb. 1.

The bust, commissioned on Nov. 2, 1791, from preeminent portrait sculptor Houdon, exemplifies the artist’s mastery of the material and his fondness for both naturalistic detail and psychological realism, conveying the sitter’s strength, intelligence and virility, according to Sotheby’s. Guibert was a general, writer and friend to many of the Enlightenment’s leading intellectuals. His “Essai général de tactique” had an enormous impact on the science of military strategy and was admired by George Washington, Frederick the Great and the young Napoleon Bonaparte. The bust, which remained with the Guibert family through 1918, is currently valued at $800,000 to $1.2 million.

Other items to be offered in the sale include carved pieta serena frieze by Francesco di Simone Ferrucci (1437-1493), a disciple of Verrocchio. The frieze most likely adorned the lintel of a fireplace in the palazzo of a noble Florentine family and features the coat of arms of Guidi di Bagno, one of the largest and most powerful noble families in central Italy in the Middle Ages. Most Ferrucci friezes are currently preserved in museum collections. This example carries a value of $500,000 to $700,000.

A third sculpture, a South German limewood figure of the grieving Saint John from the workshop of Tilman Riemenschneider (circa 1490) is estimated to bring between $250,000 and $350,000. Riemenschneider was arguably the preeminent medieval German sculptor and this figure was probably carved for an altar. Few sculptures by Riemenschneider and his workshop remain in private hands.

All three items are set for sale on the second day of the event, which begins on Jan. 31. For more information, visit the Sotheby’s website.

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