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E l i s a b e t h O s t h o f f (1918 - 2007)
The present catalogue contains 27 lots from the private collection of Elisabeth Osthoff. Born in the Westphalian town of Bielefeld, she studied sculpture at an early age at the Academy of Arts in Berlin. There, she was part of the artistic group 'Künstlergemeinschaft Klosterstraße' where artists like Käthe Kollwitz, Werner Heldt and Hermann Blumenthal created a new style of modern art.
Widowed in 1958 and with three children to take care of, Elisabeth Osthoff continued the business that she and her husband had started together trading in antiques. She developed an international client base with private collectors and institutions across Europe and the United States and had a particularly strong link with the Corning Museum of Glass in upstate New York.
The Osthoffs were not only passionate as dealers but also as private collectors, specialising in Medieval works of art, coins, portrait miniatures and glass. They were always willing to share their passion with researchers and publishers. In the world of art connoisseurs, the name Osthoff was almost synonymous for its superb collection of European glass from the 16th to the late 19th century (Christies, Amsterdam, 5 May 2007, lots 124 - 259). Technically related to glass is the painstaking art of enamel painting, a field Elisabeth Osthoff felt immediately attracted to. Praised by Liotard as 'le seul genre durable et digne d'un Roi', enamel miniatures were, in the 17th and early 18th centuries, painted for an essentially princely or aristocratic clientele. Unsurprisingly, the Osthoff collection contains several miniatures depicting historical sitters. The outstanding enamel of Frederick the Great (lot 63) was Elisabeth Osthoff's favourite miniature, combining the rarity, historical importance and highest artistic quality she was looking for.
Collecting portrait miniatures painted in the enamel technique has become increasingly challenging for the aficionados during the last twenty years. Public and private collections such as the Gilbert Collection at Somerset House and the Patek Philippe Museum, Geneva, have succeeded in building up stunning cabinets de miniatures celebrating the art of enamelling. The dispersal of the Osthoff collection of enamel miniatures will give established and new enthusiasts the opportunity to acquire enamels of both aesthetic and historical importance which have not been seen on the art market for over half a century.
PROPERTY FROM THE ELISABETH OSTHOFF COLLECTION