European paintings at Bonhams & Butterfields

Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta (1841-1920). A little princess in the gardens at Versailles. 89 x 117 cm
Estimate: $200,000–300,000

An auction house Bonhams & Butterfields will hold sales of European paintings in San Francisco on November 15, 2005. The auction will comprise masterworks from such renowned artists as: Spanish painter Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta; Italian artist Margherita Caffi, known as «la veneziana»; and English-born painter John Glover, who later emigrated to Australia.

Supposedly, the top lot of the sales will be «A little princess in the gardens at Versailles» by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta. Signed, inscribed and dated «R. Madrazo Terminé chez mon ami A. Peacock Pittsburgh 1905», the oil on canvas painting depicts an entertaining court scene where all are striving to entertain a royal child. Surrounded by ladies-in-waiting, servants, dogs and a monkey, the colorful painting captures the essence of daily life for the little Princess.

Taught by his father Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz, the leading portrait painter of XIX century Spain, Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta began his career as a painter devoted to historical subject matter. After electing to continue his education in Paris, Madrazo y Garreta began to shift his focus and follow in the footsteps of his father and teacher in the vocation of genre painting and portraiture.

In 1896 Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta opened a studio in New York City and began to spend the winters painting portraits of this country’s elite. His circle of clients was a long list of who’s who in America at the turn of the century. Patrons included: Pierpoint Morgan; the Posts; the Vanderbilts; and Andrew Peacock, Vice-President of the Carnegie Steel Company. The painting once belonged to the Peacock family.

As a Pittsburgh native and distinguished champion of the arts, Mr. Peacock, greatly admired the work of Madrazo y Garreta and commissioned the artist to produce a series of family portraits. According to Peacock’s grandson, seven portraits were produced while the artist spent a good deal of time at Rowanlea, the family home. «A little princess in the gardens at Versailles» (estimate $200,000–300,000) may have been seen as a token of appreciation for the extended hospitality of the Peacock Family. The painting was the only work by Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta retained by Andrew Peacock and his heirs following a public auction of their art collection in 1922.

The November sale also features «A still life with flowers in an urn and grapes and plums resting on a ledge», by Italian-born painter Margherita Caffi. «La Veneziana», as she was affectionately known, worked towards the end of the XVII century and the first part of XVIII perfecting a new style in still-life. Caffi, often working for the Medici, began to focus on painting garlands around center-pieces of decorative motifs such as stone vases, masks on fountains and other items with symbolic or cultural meaning. Estimated at $35,000–$55,000, «A still life with flowers in an urn» is characteristic of Caffi’s lively style and secures her place in history as one of finest Baroque female artists in Italy.

Also included in the sale is «An Arcadian landscape» with figures (estimate $10,000–15,000), painted by John Glover, the most important XIX century English landscape painter ever to work in Australia. Often known as «the father of Australian landscape painting», Glover was the only major European artist to immigrate to Australia before the gold rush of 1850. Glover has been dubbed the most important landscape painter of the early colonial period and his status has continued to date – honored by the creation of the world-renowned John Glover Prize, established to promote the artist’s memory.

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Published in: on October 5, 2005 at 3:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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