Christie’s announce a stellar selection of paintings by European masters to be offered at auction in the 19th Century European and Orientalist Art sale on 15 June 2011. The sale is led by the magisterial The Dance of Salomé, the greatest painting by Hungarian artist Gyula Tornai (1868–1928) to have ever come to market, which is expected to realise between £1million and £1.5million. The subject was a popular theme in art and literature in the 19th century, as exemplified by Oscar Wilde's sensational play Salomé in 1893, which was later to form the libretto for an opera by Strauss. Drawing on a wealth of art historical influences, from Rubens to Tornai’s Austrian contemporary, Hans Makart, this theatrical rendition of the subject was widely admired by his contemporaries. The picture’s artistic quality and importance is reflected in the aristocratic provenance and connection to the leading royal families of Europe – having been given by His Imperial Majesty Franz-Josef, Emperor of Austria to his granddaughter as a wedding gift and subsequently passed by descent to the present owner.
Alexandra McMorrow, International Head of 19th Century Art: “Christie’s has been entrusted to manage sales from some of the most important Royal and aristocratic collections in Europe. The Dance of Salomé was deemed a fitting gift from an Emperor for his granddaughter’s marriage, reflecting the outstanding artistry and quality of a work which has been regarded as a true family heirloom. It will be presented to the art market for the first time since its conception in the upcoming 19th Century European Art sale and hung alongside a wide variety of European masters.”
Other highlights of the sale include paintings from masters spanning Europe with the superb Portrait of Anna Elisabeth Hansen, 1902, by the great Italian Giovanni Boldini (estimate: £500,000-700,000), a quintessential Belle Epoque portrait of high society. French artists are also strongly represented with three works by Eugène Delacroix, of which The Agony in the Garden, painted circa 1849, is the highlight (estimate: £150,000-200,000) , and a notably large group of nine works by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot that include the timeless Self Portrait, painted circa 1818 (estimate: £150,000-200,000), as well as several of his signature landscapes. Spanish works are led by the well-known La Grasse Matinée, painted circa 1900 (estimate: £150,000-200,000) by the leading avant-garde painter Ramon Casas y Carbó.
Elsewhere in the sale, important Ottoman and Orientalist paintings from the leaders of the genre are featured, with top lots by Alberto Pasini, Gustav Bauernfeind and John Frederick Lewis, along with bronze sculptures from Emile-Coriolan-Hippolyte Guillemin.
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