Panel by A. da Messina Will Be Auctioned

A previously unknown and recently attributed devotional panel by Antonello da Messina will be offered at Christie’s sale of Important Old Master Pictures on 9 July 2003 (estimate: £200,000- 300,000) . Further highlights will include works by Goya and Tiepolo. Christie’s sale of Old Master Drawings on 8 July will include sheets by Rembrandt, Rubens and Guercino.

“The emergence of a work by an artist of the first rank is always exciting, particularly when the painter’s oeuvre is relatively small. The panel fuses Italian and northern influences so brilliantly and is an early work, executed before the artist left Sicily for Venice. It is painted with the utmost subtlety and refinement,” said Francis Russell, Senior Director, Christie’s Old Master Picture Department.

A private devotional work, it shows the Madonna and Child with a praying Franciscan, the patron. The gold panel is painted on both sides. On the reverse is Christ crowned with thorns, in a trompe l’oeil quatrefoil surround. The work shows the early development of the artist and in details such as the chiselled profile of the donor, the work prepares us for the compelling portraits that were to be among Antonello’s most influential productions. The panel represents a crossroads of Mediterranean art, helping to explain the stylistic evolution of an artist who, both in his native Sicily and subsequently in Venice, may be seen as one of the protagonists of Renaissance painting.

A superb modello for the magnificent ceiling painting in Ca’Rezzonico by Giambattista Tiepolo (1696-1770), Merit raised to Glory by Nobility and Virtue, will also be offered (estimate: £300,000- 500,000). One of the most beautiful palaces in Venice, in the early 16th century the site of the Ca’Rezzonico housed Titian’s studio. It was acquired in the mid-18th century by Giambattista Rezzonico, a Lombard merchant and banker, who engaged Giorgio Massari to reconstruct the palace. The family was enjoying a glory that reached its height at the time of the 1748 election of Giambattista’s son, Carlo, to Pope Clement XIII. The interiors of the palace, begun in 1752, were designed to reflect the family’s magnificence, and the finest artists and craftsmen in Venice were thus hired. Tiepolo had recently returned from Würzburg, where he had executed a commission at the Kaisersaal, and the ceiling of the Treppensaal, of the Residenz of the Princes-Bishop. On his return to Venice in 1753 he was at the summit of his career, as was recognised by his 1756 appointment as President of the Venetian Academy. In the winter of 1757, he began work on the frescoes at Ca’ Rezzonico. This modello is imbued with all the exuberance, vitality and virtuoso handling of the greatest master of the Venetian rococo.

Following on with the Venetian theme, an important pair of works by Gaspare Vanvitelli, The Grand Canal, looking towards Santa Maria della Salute, 1710, and The Island of San Giorgio, 1709, will also be offered (estimate: £500,000-700,000). These views are excellent examples of Vanvitelli’s work. Possessing all the qualities of light and spontaneity that characterise the finest vedute, the paintings are a vivid reminder of the abilities of the founder of this school of art, the forerunner of Canaletto himself.

A remarkable sketch, The Apparition of the Virgin of the Pillar to Saint James the Great, by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) relates to an altarpiece, now destroyed, that the artist painted for the church at Urrea de Gaén, Teruel, in 1782-3 (estimate: £400,000-600,000). Saint James was praying with his disciples by the River Ebro when the Virgin appeared to him surrounded by angels. She presented him with an image of herself standing on a marble column, and on this site the apostle built a chapel that has remained a place of pilgrimage ever since.

Leading the Dutch section of the sale is The Pelkuspoort on the River Vecht near Utrecht by Salomon van Ruysdael (1600/3-1670) (estimate: £300,000-400,000). Dated 1663, this is a beautifully preserved panel and a fine example of the artist’s later style. Simon de Vlieger’s A Dutch Squadron preparing to make way in a calm, with a man-o’-war firing a salute for a commander in his barge (estimate: £100,000- 150,000) is a further highlight.

Published in: on July 1, 2003 at 1:11 am  Leave a Comment  

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