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    Sale 7610

    Important Old Master & British Pictures Day Sale Including Property From The Collection Of The Princely House Of Liechtenstein

    9 July 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 146

    North Italian School, circa 1520

    Portrait of a man-at-arms, said to be Gjergj Kastrioti, called Skanderbeg (1405-1466), half-length, in armour, holding a sword

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    North Italian School, circa 1520
    Portrait of a man-at-arms, said to be Gjergj Kastrioti, called Skanderbeg (1405-1466), half-length, in armour, holding a sword
    with Schulenburg inventory number 'no. 8' (painted on reverse)
    oil on panel, the reverse painted with an ogival lattice with crown intersections in the manner of late 17th and early 18th century velvet or damask
    39½ x 30¾ in. (100.3 x 78.1 cm.)


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    Johann Matthias, Count von der Schulenberg (1661-1747) formed one of the foremost collections of paintings of his age. Having commanded the forces of Saxony under Augustus the Strong, Schulenburg was appointed Field Marshal of the Venetian armies in 1715 and remained in the service of the Republic until his death in 1747. In 1716 he scored a monumental victory by driving the armies of the Ottoman Empire away from the besieged island of Corfu. Such was the joy of Venice that Vivaldi's opera Juditha triumphans was commissioned in celebration of the victory; Schulenburg was declared the Saviour of the Republic, commemorated by a statue and given a pension of 5000 ducats a year. This pension, his revered status and presence in Venice--in the early eighteenth century, the centre of the world art market--placed him in a prime position to collect Old Masters, as well as works by his contemporaries. He socialised with the leading artists and collectors of Venice, becoming an important patron and close friend to Giovanni Battista Piazzetta and Giovanni Antonio Guardi. Piazzetta played an important role in supplying Schulenburg with Old Masters as well as his own paintings.

    By 1747 Schulenburg's collection numbered some 957 items, including paintings, drawings and sculpture, split between his Venetian residence --the Palazzo Loredan--and Berlin, where Schulenburg hoped to found a public museum. Alice Binion notes that in 1741 and 1746 the largest category of paintings in the collection were portraits, 199 out of a total of 789 pictures (see Binion, op. cit., p. 75). Schulenburg had a special penchant for portraits, surrounding himself himself with representations of monarchs, relatives and famous military men. The present picture was purchased as a portrait of Scanderbeg, the celebrated leader of the Christian Albanian resistance to Ottoman dominion. This identification would have appealed to Schulenburg, who himself had fought against the Turks, and who may have identified with the exploits of the famous Albanian general. The armour worn by the sitter is stylised, of a Germanic character, and probably suggests a date of circa 1520; the sword is of a type produced circa 1510-1530, while the breastplate is of a type that would have been fashionable circa 1515-1525.

    The Schulenburg collection is well-documented by a number of inventories, which often scrupulously record valuations made by the Professori of Venice, a group of art experts that included Giovanni Battista Pittoni, Francesco Simonini, Angelo Trevisani, and Piazzetta himself. The Schulenburg inventories record that the Professori had valued the present picture at 300 ducats by 1738, and at 400 ducats by 1741.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Purchased by Field Marshal Count Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg (1661-1747) on 23 April 1738; by whom bequeathed to his nephew,
    Christian Günther von der Schulenburg, Berlin, and by descent to the present owner.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR


    Literature

    Schulenburg libri-cassa. Hanover, Niederschsisches Staatsarchiv, MS, entry for 23 April 1738, recording 'Contati per un quadro di Giorgion, che rapresenta il ritratto del Scanderbeg, cecchini vinti cinque, giusto ricevua in libero'.
    Inventario Generale della Galleria di S: Eccelza Felt Marescial Conte di Sculembourgh ... La qual Galleria pincipiò a formarsi dal 1724, e Fino al presente 1738 30 Maggio. Hanover, Niedersächsisches Staatsarchiv, MS, Dep. 82, Abt. III, N. 37, as the 'Quadro con cornice dorata rappresenta Scanderbeco' by Giorgione, purchased for 75 ducats and subsequently valued at 300 ducats by the Professori of Venice. Specificazione de Quadri spediti in Germania, Settima Spedizione, Fatta in [between March 1739 and 17 January 1740]. Hanover, Niedersächsisches Staatsarchiv, MS, Dep. 82, Abt. III, N. 37, as 'Scanderbecco, over il ritratto del famoso Guener' by 'Giorgion, o Olben', purchased for 75 ducats.
    1741, 30 Giugno Venezia, Inventario Generale della Galleria di S.E. Maresciallo Co: di Schulemberg ... La qual Galleria pricipio à formarsi l'anno 1724 ripartita coll'ordine che segue. Hanover, Niedersächsisches Staatsarchiv, MS, Dep. 82, Abt. III, N. 37, as the 'Quadro Cornice dorata in Tella rapresenta il famoso Scanderbec 7ma spne' by 'Giorgione overo Olben', valued at 400 ducats by the Professori of Venice.
    Inventaire de la Gallerie de Feu S. e. Mgr. Le Feldmarechal Comte de Schulenburg, annotated copy. Hanover, Niedersächsisches Staatsarchiv, Dep. 82, Abt. III, N. 95. No. 113, as the 'Tableau en planche, représ. le fameux Schanderb' by 'Giorgione ou Olbein'.
    Alice Binion, La Galleria scomparsa del maresciallo von der Schulenburg, Milan, 1990, pp. 159, 200, 226, 270 and 277.