Category: Discoveries

Impressionist discovery in US 'yard sale'

January 28 2011

Image of Impressionist discovery in US 'yard sale'

Picture: Skinner Inc.

A work by the American Impressionist painter Frederick Carl Frieseke has been bought in a 'yard sale' for less than $100. It will be auctioned on Friday 28th with an estimate of $50-70,000. More here.

Update 29.1.11; it didn't sell.

From Sleeper to Museum Wall

January 24 2011

Image of From Sleeper to Museum Wall

I was interested to see this fine portrait of a gentleman by Quentin Metsys in the Metropolitan Museum in New York on Sunday. Not so long ago it had appeared in an auction in Switzerland with a very low estimate and called something like 'Flemish School' (I can't remember exactly). 

I had it eagerly flagged up, but the picture was withdrawn from the sale. It then reappeared at Christie's in London correctly described and with an estimate of £700,000 - £1m. Now, it hangs happily reunited (on loan) with its pendant, which has belonged to the Met since 1931.  

'Lost Rubens' faces Export Ban

January 18 2011

Image of 'Lost Rubens' faces Export Ban

Picture: Sotheby's.

A portrait believed to be by Rubens has been stopped for export by the government's Reviewing Committee. The picture was offered at Sotheby's in December 2009 with an estimate of £4-6m, but failed to sell and is now priced at £1m.

The 'striking portrait of a very real, although unidentified, woman', according to the Committee's Chairman Lord Inglewood, must have presented the panel with a tricky dilemma. The so-called Waverley Criteria, by which a picture is judged to be of national importance, are;

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How much will it make?

January 11 2011

Image of How much will it make?

Picture: Christie's

A previously unknown self-portrait by Andy Warhol will be auctioned by Christie's London on 16th February with an estimate of £3-5m. It is the eleventh version on a 6ft large canvas, and newly authenticated. Previously there were thought to be only ten.

There are more than forty on the smaller 22 inch scale. 

Update 20.1.11; full Christie's catalogue entry here.

Velasquez Upgraded

December 22 2010

Image of Velasquez Upgraded

Picture: New York Times/Metropolitan Museum

After a long campaign of conservation, curators at the Met in New York believe that their ‘workshop’ portrait of Philip IV is in fact an autograph work by Velasquez.  It had been downgraded in 1973. The New York Times has a fascinating article, where you can see the picture before and after conservation. 

Philip’s left eye had been totally obliterated, and has had to be recreated (very well I think) from other versions of the portrait. Despite appearances, the picture is actually in a relatively good state. The story is yet another example of how a picture’s condition can throw people off the scent – ‘dirty’ paintings, obscured by old varnish and over-paint, are often hard to read.

The Met’s attribution of Philip IV follows on from their earlier upgrading of Portrait of a Man from workshop to autograph.

Lucknow at LACMA

December 12 2010

Image of Lucknow at LACMA

Picture: Philip Mould Ltd

A new exhibition on the court art of 18th and 19th Century Lucknow in India (then known as Oudh) has opened at LACMA. It runs until February 27th, when it departs for the Musee Guimet in Paris.

I'm pleased to say that our newly discovered portrait of Ghazi-ud-din Haidar, King of Oudh, by Robert Home will be joining the exhibition in Paris.

74 Times the Estimate

December 8 2010

Image of 74 Times the Estimate

Picture: Bonham's

An interior of a church catalogued as 'Studio of Pieter Jansz. Saenredam (1597-1665)' has sold for £1,476,000 at Bonhams today. The estimate was £20,000 to £30,000.

It might appear at first as if a 'sleeper' has slipped through the net. But reading the text of the catalogue, it seems the auctioneers knew exactly what they were doing - it effectively says, 'we think this is really by Saenredam'. And by leaving open the element of discovery, the (rather dirty) 'studio' picture was the perfect cheese in the trap for the world's Old Master dealers.

The price beat the existing auction record for a Saenredam by some margin.  

Try reading it backwards

December 6 2010

Image of Try reading it backwards

Picture: Guardian

Experts have been baffled by a scrawled 15th Century manuscript recently found in a French library. But holding it up to a mirror reveals it to have been written by Leonardo.

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