‘A powerhouse of an art dealer’ — Property from The Collection of Richard L. Feigen
Broadcaster Alastair Sooke and Christie’s specialist Jonquil O’Reilly introduce a selection of Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings and an 18th-century British landscape owned by the respected American dealer, offered on 1 May in New York
The influential American art dealer Richard L. Feigen, who has galleries in New York and London, is renowned for his connoisseurship — spanning early Italian paintings to contemporary art — as well as for the top collectors and leading institutions that he lists among his clients.
Christie’s Old Masters specialist Jonquil O’Reilly describes Feigen as ‘a powerhouse of an art dealer’, who has ‘a spectacular eye for quality’ that he has been able to apply to centuries of art history.
On 1 May in New York, Property from the Collection of Richard L. Feigen, including Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings and an 18th-century British landscape, will be offered in the Old Masters sale. Artists represented in the auction include Annibale Carracci, Guercino, Lorenzo Monaco, and John Constable.
Annibale Carracci (1560-1609) Virgin and Child with Saint Lucy and the Young Saint John the Baptist. Oil on panel. 30⅞ x 24 13/16 in (78.5 x 63 cm). Estimate on Request. Offered in Old Masters on 1 May at Christie’s in New York
An important group of early Italian and Baroque works constitute the core of the collection, led by Annibale Carracci’s Virgin and Child with Saint Lucy and the Young Saint John the Baptist.
The art historian and broadcaster Alastair Sooke describes this early work from the 1580s as ‘beautifully tender, emotionally soft and inviting’. It is also the artist’s first painting on panel which, notes O’Reilly, makes it all the more rare.
Francesco Barbieri called Guercino (1591-1666), Vanitas Still Life. Oil on canvas. 12 1⁄16 x 15⅜ in (30.5 x 39 cm). Estimate on request. Offered in Old Masters on 1 May at Christie’s in New York
Moving on to ‘the only known still life by Guercino in all of his corpus of work,’ the early 17th-century work Vanitas Still Life, O’Reilly points out, ‘You just don’t see still lifes of this kind in Italy at this moment in history.’
‘This is a really paradoxical picture,’ argues Sooke, ‘because ostensibly, it’s so dark, it’s forbidding, but it is actually hugely seductive and compelling.’
Also included in the sale is Lorenzo Monaco’s The Prophet Isaiah, a tondo from his Annunciation triptych in the Galleria dell’ Accademia, Florence.
‘The Prophet Isaiah foresaw the coming of Christ and the immaculate conception,’ O’Reilly explains of this work by the monk who became one of the foremost painters in Renaissance Florence. ‘Although [the painting] works beautifully as an object in itself, this is a tiny fragment of a huge altarpiece — Lorenzo’s masterpiece.’
John Constable, R.A. (1776-1837), The Skylark, Dedham (recto); Study of a Cow Standing in a Stream (verso). Oil on board. 9 x 8 in (22.8 x 20.3 cm). Estimate: $800,000-1,200,000. Offered in Old Masters on 1 May at Christie’s in New York
Turning next to a small work by John Constable, just 9 x 8 in, Sooke immediately recognises the English landscape that the artist ‘painted obsessively’. The work is in fact double-sided: on the front is a landscape of the artist’s native Dedham, in Essex, while the back features a study of a cow.
Richard Feigen represented several artists early in their careers, including Francis Bacon and John Baldessari, and organised Baldessari’s first exhibition in 1970. He has also been influential in placing important works at the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, among other institutions, as well as authoring a semi-autobiographical collection of essays titled Tales from the Art Crypt: The Painters, the Museums, the Curators, the Collectors, the Auctions, the Art.
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