London – Christie’s Classic Week in London will present 11 auctions spanning the Decorative Arts, Antiquities, Old Masters, Books and Manuscripts, Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist and 19th Century Works of Art along with the Collection of Raine, Countess Spencer. The week will be highlighted by the sale of Francesco Guardi’s masterpiece The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, which is expected to achieve more than £25 million. Classic Week will be on view and open to the public from 1 July to 13 July 2017.
European Furniture and Works of Art | 4 July
The European Furniture & Works of Art Sale comprises a curated selection of fine French and continental furniture, object d’art, clocks as well as ormolu-mounted porcelain and hard stone, representing the work of some of the most celebrated artists and craftsmen of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Highlights of this sale include a pair of Louis XVI fauteuils attributed to Séné probably delivered in 1785 to the Queen Marie-Antoinette (estimate: £20,000-30,000), a Louis XV Royal commode delivered by Joubert in 1752 to Madame Adélaïde, daughter of Louis XV (estimate: £30,000-50,000), a Louis XVI lacquer commode by Adam Weisweiler (estimate: £50,000-80,000) and a Sèvres plate from the service of Catherine the Great (estimate: £60,000-80,000).
Antiquities | 5 July
A focal point of the sale is the private Swiss collection of Elsa Bloch-Diener, which is led by a large pelike (estimate: £80,000-120,000). This vessel is finely decorated with scenes of athletes exercising in the gymnasium and is a significant addition to the growing list of vases attributed to the Carpenter Painter, active in Athens between 510-490 B.C. Also from the collection is an Egyptian granite head of Sekhmet, made under Pharaoh Amenhotep III, ruler of Egypt from 1388 to 1351 B.C. (estimate: £100,000-150,000). This example once decorated the sanctuary at the Temple of Mut at Karnak, as part of a large group. Sekhmet, depicted as a lion-headed woman, was a feared goddess who could be both destructive and healing, her name means ‘the female powerful one’. More statues exist of her than of all other deities combined which may be due to the seven years of crippling plagues during Pharaoh Amenhotep III’s reign. Statues of Sekhmet were erected to try to bring the pestilence to an end.
A beautifully carved Roman marble torso of Polykleitos’ Dresden Youth (estimate: £100,000-150,000) from the first quarter of the 1st century A.D. is another important work from the collection. Polykleitos was one of the most famous and influential Greek sculptors of the High Classical Period whose career flourished around 460-420 A.D. Polykleitan works can be divided into three groups, which depended on the different age groups in athletic contest. The Dresden Youth is named after another sculpture in the Dresden Museum from the same period.
Old Master & British Drawings & Watercolours Sale | 5 July
The Old Master & British Drawings & Watercolours Sale will be highlighted by three important works by Joseph Mallord William Turner, led by Norham Castle: Sunrise (estimate: £500,000-800,000). The handful of haunting and atmospheric images Turner produced of Norham Castle between 1797 and the mid-1840s remain among his most celebrated works, culminating in the late, unfinished oil painting at Tate Britain. This large watercolour was first exhibited in London at the Royal Academy in 1798, and reveals Turner’s affection for a subject that had inspired a boldly experimental response, effectively liberating him as a landscape painter. The work will be offered alongside Turner’s Colour beginning: A coastal landscape with a figure in the foreground (estimate: £150,000-200,000), a previously unrecorded colour study painted around 1822-4, and Abbotsford from the north bank of the River Tweed (estimate: £70,000-100,000), last exhibited more than 30 years ago.
Two important views of Venice depicting the Doge’s Palace and the Riva degli Schiavoni along with a view of the Giudecca in Venice with the church of San Giorgio by Francesco Guardi (estimate: £500,000-700,000 a pair) will be offered. Among Guardi’s largest drawings, these are studies for the largest known oil paintings (measuring 122 x 167 in.) by the artist, in the Rothschild collection at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire. Further highlights include a collection of early Italian drawings highlighted by Federico Zuccaro’s A flying Angel holding Christ’s robe (estimate: £50,000-80,000). The drawing documents one of the most important projects of the artist’s career, the fresco inside the cupola of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, which he took over after the death of Giorgio Vasari in 1574. The sale will also present the earliest known self-portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds (estimate: £100,000-150,000), drawn around 1740 shortly after he began an apprenticeship in the studio of Thomas Hudson. On the verso, a study of Diana has been discovered, which along with the early self-portrait, offers a fascinating insight into Reynold’s artistic development as an artist.
The Exceptional Sale 2017 | 6 July
This Exceptional Sale will be led by a magnificent Carved Marble Group of Two Addorsed Lions by André Beauneveu (circa 1335-1402), dating from 1364-66. Originally executed to form part of the tomb of King Charles V of France at the Abbey of St. Denis, it was acquired in France in 1802 by the English aristocrat Sir Thomas Neave (1761-1848), and has remained in the same collection ever since (please click here for the full press release).
Also offered is The Maria Fitzherbert Jewel, which contains a portrait miniature of King George IV by the celebrated artist Richard Cosway that belonged to the King’s secret and illegal wife, Maria Fitzherbert (estimate: £80,000-120,000) (please click here for the full press release). Another lot with royal provenance is a pair of stirrups (estimate: £40,000–60,000), that are believed to have belonged to Charles I and bear his cypher, CR beneath a crown and the date 1626, the year of his coronation. The stirrups were subsequently used by his grandson, William III at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when he defeated his catholic uncle, James II.
Further highlights of the sale include a Swedish enamelled gold snuff-box by Frantz Bergs (estimate: £500,000-700,000) depicting Adonis and Venus. Intriguingly the box has a double-headed eagle incuse mark that was used for boxes in the Russian Imperial collections. A pair of Italian carved Porphyry vases, circa 1720-60 (estimate: £700,000–1,000,000) will also be offered, which are monumental in scale and a prime example of carved porphyry, a stone which has been prized since antiquity for its lustrous colour and remarkable hardness. Only mined at Mons Porphyrites in Egypt, the material was the Roman Imperial symbol of power and has been highly collected throughout history.
Old Masters Evening Sale | 6 July
Christie’s Old Masters Evening Sale will be led by Francesco Guardi’s masterpiece The Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi (estimate on request). This magnificent, signed picture is one of the celebrated pair of views of the Grand Canal at the Rialto, which are widely regarded as the most accomplished works of Guardi’s early maturity. Ambitious in scale and startlingly innovative both in design and pictorial mood, this work stands among the masterpieces of eighteenth-century European art (please click here for the full press release).
The sale will also present Figures dancing on the bank of a river with a fish-seller by Jan Brueghel the Elder (estimate: £5,500,000-8,000,000). This exceptional picture, formerly in an important Bavarian royal collection, is among the finest works by Jan Brueghel the Elder remaining in private hands. Executed with characteristic precision on a small copper panel, it is signed and dated 1616, and is one of only three works in which the artist included his own portrait within the landscape; the other two are in museum collections.
An important work by El Greco, Christ taking leave of His Mother (estimate: £4,000,000-6,000,000), represents the first treatment of the subject by the artist, painted shortly after he moved to Toledo and displaying the formative influence of his time in Venice. A remarkable collection of eight Tuscan Renaissance cassone panels will be presented, representing the artistic development of this important Italian tradition, from early examples of the genre by the Master of Charles III of Durazzo (active circa 1382) to works by some of the finest cassone painters of the 14th and 15th centuries, namely Apollonio di Giovanni, Giovanni Toscani and Lo Scheggia (please click here for the full press release).
Old Masters Day Sale | 7 July
The Old Master and British Paintings Day Sale offers a diverse selection of works across all schools of European painting, from the mid-14th to the early-19th centuries. A pair views of Padua will star in the sale, created by Pietro Bellotti (estimate: £120,000-180,000), the younger brother of Bernardo Bellotto and nephew of the celebrated artist Canaletto. Bellotti’s view of Dolo is a rare signed work by the artist and is based on a composition by Canaletto. Sir Edwin Henry Landseer’s Lions at a Kill (estimate: £60,000-80,000) is another highlight of the sale. The work dates to an important moment in Landseer’s early career and was painted around 1818, at around the time he was concluding his studies at the Royal Academy of Arts and beginning to fully formulate his artistic identity. The painting is demonstrative not just of Landseer’s early fascination with animals, which would continue to guide his work and establish him as a favourite painter of Queen Victoria and one of the leading artists working in the nineteenth century, but also of his considered yet rapid brushwork, which would continue to be used to great effect throughout the painter’s career.
Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist Art | 11 July
The Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art Sale will offer a beautiful selection of Pre-Raphaelite drawings by artists including William Holman Hunt, Sir John Everett Millais, led by a set of four compositional designs by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (estimate: £30,000-50,000). The drawings will be offered alongside Burne-Jones’s The Garland (estimate: £30,000-50,000), a watercolour, that was one of a series of six that Burne-Jones painted in 1867. The works were based on his designs for stained glass in the Green Dining Room at the South Kensington (now Victoria and Albert) Museum, which had been decorated by William Morris the previous year. Also presented is Isabella and the Pot of Basil by John William Waterhouse (estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000), an outstanding example of Waterhouse’s mature period, which drew inspiration from the poem by John Keats. The sale will further include a study for St George by Solomon Joseph Solomon (estimate: £15,000-20,000), who presented the finished painting for his diploma work when elected as a Royal Academician in 1906, along with important examples by John William Godward, John Atkinson Grimshaw and Sir Alfred James Munnings.
Valuable Books and Manuscripts | 12 July
The sale of Valuable Books and Manuscripts offers an eclectic cross-section of literary, scientific and artistic culture from the 7th century to the present day. The top lot is a deluxe copy of the first edition of the most celebrated botanical work ever published, Besler’s Hortus Eystettensis (estimate: £600,000-900,000) – or, in English, Garden of Eichstätt – luxuriously coloured and illuminated on Besler’s instruction for his patron, the Bishop and Chapter of Eichstätt. Of particular importance among the autograph lots are six intimate and personal letters from Albert Einstein to his lifelong friend and collaborator Michele Besso, which include discussions on special and general relativity, the cosmological constant, the objective significance of space and time and ‘time’s arrow’. The six letters will be offered alongside, Einstein: Letters to a friend, a dedicated online sale of 50 further correspondence between Einstein and Michele Besso, from 6 to 13 July (please click here for the full press release).
The sale includes a work by one of the great illuminators and frescoists of the Italian Renaissance, Liberale da Verona (estimate: £60,000-90,000), and a remarkable collection of Venetian dogali in their original bindings, giving a unique insight into the political machinations of the Most Serene Republic of Venice. A rare first edition of the foundational document of the Society of Jesus, St Ignatius of Loyola’s Exercitia Spiritualia (estimate: £120,000-160,000), a Aldine Aristotle (estimate: £300,000-500,000), a collection of Protestant reformation pamphlets, personal artefacts including Einstein’s pipe (estimate: £5,000-8,000) and Walter Scott’s cane (estimate: £3,000-5,000) and a first edition of Terence’s Eunuchus (estimate: £200,000-300,000) – the first of any classical play in the vernacular – are among other highlights.
19th Century European & Orientalist Art | 13 July
Presenting a diverse selection of styles and schools, the sale will open with a superb private collection of 46 Orientalist works. The collection presents a unique dialogue between cultures and traditions through subtle stylistic coherence and will be led by Ludwig Deutsch’s At Prayer (estimate: £400,000-600,000), one of the best examples of the artist’s work to have appeared on the market in recent years. Largely influence by Jean-Léon Gérôme’s academic style, Deutsch’s At Prayer is a remarkable example of the artist’s mature style and his striking use of colour.
The sale will also feature a collection of seven watercolours by Amadeo, 5th Count Preziosi, who, after being born into Maltese nobility, found fame in Turkey depicting the cosmopolitan life and landscape of Istanbul in works such as A market in front of the New Mosque (Yeni Cami), Constantinople (1879, estimate £30,000-50,000). The auction presents an excellent range of works by the leading artists of the era such as Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Théodore Rousseau from the Barbizon School, Realist Gustave Courbet and pre-impressionist Henri Fantin-Latour. Also included is a monumental watercolour by Antonio Maria Fabrés y Costa and a wonderfully impressionist beach scene by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida titled Llegada de las barcas (estimate: £300,000-500,000). Sorolla is best loved for his ability to give a strong sense of immediacy, depicting the sunlight, wind, and daily life of fishermen on a Spanish beach. Portraits by Italian artists present a diverse range of techniques used to capture their subjects. This includes bold impastos by Antonio Mancini and jewel like detailing and precision by Giovanni Boldini. Belle époque works by Giovanni Boldini Signora seduta con gatto (estimate: £200,000-300,000), Giuseppe De Nittis, Gaston la Touche and Jean-François Raffaëlli offer a glimpse at life at the turn of the century in Europe.
The Collection of Raine, Countess Spencer | 13 July
Christie’s will offer for auction the collection of Raine, Countess Spencer (1929-2016). Lady Spencer, the only daughter of celebrated romantic novelist Dame Barbara Cartland, enjoyed a position at the centre of London society for over 60 years, having been named Deb of the Year in 1947. She had an appreciation of the fine and decorative arts; 18th century France was of special interest, and she assembled a collection of paintings by some of the greatest artists of that period, including Boucher, Fragonard and Vernet. Lady Spencer also collected fine furniture on which she displayed ormolu clocks, objets d’art and Chinese works of art – including intricately carved jades; the Art Deco was also a period of particular inspiration. Please click here for the full press release.