• Old Master Prints auction at Christies

    Sale 7781

    Old Master Prints

    8 December 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 1

    Circle of Baccio Baldini, the Master of the Otto Prints (circa 1436-1487)

    Aristotle and Phyllis, surrounded by a Young Man and Woman with Eros, and a reclining nude Woman with two Children (Hind A.I.26; Bartsch 29)

    Price Realised  

    Circle of Baccio Baldini, the Master of the Otto Prints (circa 1436-1487)
    Aristotle and Phyllis, surrounded by a Young Man and Woman with Eros, and a reclining nude Woman with two Children (Hind A.I.26; Bartsch 29)
    engraving, second half of the 15th century, without watermark, the only known impression, printed slightly later from the reworked plate, trimmed just outside the outer borderline, a tiny thin spot at left, a small printer's crease below, in very good condition
    S. 160 mm. (diameter)


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    Albeit not by the hand of Baccio Baldini or his immediate workshop, this remarkable print forms part of a group of early Florentine engravings known as the 'Otto Prints'. Named after the Leipzig collector Ernst Peter Otto, who in the 18th century acquired 24 of them, these prints were probably created for the decoration of betrothal or wedding chests. Such wooden boxes, adorned with a print of this type - subsequently coloured by hand - probably served as a less costly, yet refined, substitute for boxes in precious metals or stones. All of these prints are of a circular or rounded shape, and nearly all share representations on the themes of love, courtship and the 'battle of the sexes'. The present engraving, with its rich and humorous iconography of love and marriage, is a fascinating example of the secular culture of 15th century Florence and the use of prints at the time. It is an integral part of this important and rare group of prints and now possibly the only one of the 'Otto Prints' not in a public collection.

    To this day, the present impression remains the only example to have come to light. As Hind and Bartsch had already assumed, examination under the microscope reveals that this is indeed a later impression from the reworked plate. Contrary to recent speculations however, it does not show any enhancements in pen and ink.

    We are greatful to Mark McDonald, British Museum, for his help in cataloguing and examining this lot.

    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

    Marchese Jacopo Durazzo, Venice (according to Bartsch).
    A. Freiherr von Lanna (1836-1909), Prague (Lugt 2773), Gutekunst, Stuttgart, 11 - 22 May 1909, lot 342.
    Rudolf Ritter von Gutmann, Vienna (Lugt 2770); confiscated in 1938; then in the Albertina, Vienna; restituted to the heirs of Rudolf Ritter von Gutmann in 2006.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY OF THE HEIRS OF RUDOLF RITTER VON GUTMANN