The highlight of this year's Old Masters auction “The Peasant Wedding” by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, is estimated at €1,000,000–1,200,000. The 42 x 59 cm panel is listed under the catalogue raisonné number E877 and is among the most outstanding compositions of the artist's later phase. In this work, Brueghel picks up the peasant wedding motif established in an important composition painted by his father half a century earlier, which our artist was to use in a number of works painted after 1616.
In this work, Brueghel sets his wedding banquet outdoors. The large open square before a row of cottages provides the stage upon which his peasants enjoy their merry feast. Unlike his father's work and other versions of the motif, Brueghel does not focus the composition upon the main banquet table – this is here placed on the right edge of the image, where the bride can be seen seated before a red cloth hung between two trees. Instead, the artist focusses on those guests who did not find a place on the main table and instead partake of their meal seated on the ground, and their cavorting provides much greater pictorial interest. Pieter Brueghel arranges his figures in a rhythmic, frieze-like composition in the foreground, allowing the viewer's gaze to meander from left to right over the comical, and occasionally vulgar, antics of his figures. We see them passing each other food, pouring drinks, playing music and feeding their children, one guest has already nodded off into a stupor and a couple can be seen embracing. Young, old, men, women, children, dogs and birds all join the feast and provide the artist with a fine opportunity to display his extensive figural repertoire (lot 1229).
Jan Brueghel the Elder is represented by the copper panel “Forest Landscape with Ramblers”. The work was painted in around 1600 and belongs to a group of pieces representative of the transition from the “world landscape” of the 16th century to the “realistic landscape” of the 17th (lot 1232, est. €200–250,000). The auction will also include the small, oval copper panel “Forest Landscape with a View of Prague Castle” (lot 1234, est. €60–80,000) and a small panel “Garland of Fruits with the Holy Family” (lot 1235, est. €70–80,000). Lot 1274, “Wooded Landscape with a Game Still Life”, represents a collaborative work between Jan Brueghel the Younger and Lucas van Uden – the pupil of Rembrandt having painted the landscape (est. €80–100,000). Gabriel Metsu's “Ecce Homo” originates from the artist's final period, in which he returned to painting religious works “(lot 1285, est. €40–60,000).
The works “Mountain Landscape with an Ambush” by Josse de Momper and Sebastiaen Vrancx (lot 1249) and “Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden at the Battle of Lützen” by Jan Asselijn (lot 1261) are both valued at €40-50,000. Claes Molenaer's characteristic “Winter Landscape with Peasants and Ice Skaters by a Tavern” is estimated at €60–80,000 (lot 1304). A further highlight of this auction is formed by Nicolas Poussin's “Landscape with Apollo and Marsyas”, which Denis Mahon dates to the artist's early Roman phase, around 1627. In contrast to other artists such as Titian and Ribera, Poussin chooses not to depict Apollo's brutal punishment of Marsyas, instead concentrating on the musical competition described in Ovid's Metamorphoses (lot 1263, est. €200–250,000). Claude Vignon's “The Repentant Saint Peter” (lot 1265) is estimated at €60–80,000 and Abraham Brueghel andGiacinto Gimignani's “Venus and Cupid”, painted in 1679, at €60–70,000 (lot 1315).
One of the earliest paintings in this auction originates from the Workshop of Giovanni Bellini. The panel, depicting the circumcision of Christ, is valued at €60–80,000 (lot 1201). A work showing “Venus and Adonis” by an artist of the Prague School from around 1600 is also estimated at €60–80,000 (lot 1227). Jacob de Backer's “Salome with the Head of John the Baptist” (lot 1228) is estimated at €60–70,000 and a densely populated depiction of the “Raising of Lazarus” by Hans Rottenhammer at €45–50,000 (lot 1231). Johann König's depiction of the “Brazen Serpent” is valued at €50–60,000 (lot 1242). The auction will also include two large-format narrative works by Januarius Zick under lot number 1349: “Alexander the Great and the Family of Darius” and “The Abstinence of Scipio” (together est. at €100–120,000). Jakob Philipp Hackert is represented by one of his Italian vedutas, which were already highly popular in the 18th century. His “Italian River Landscape with a View of the Tiber Valley north of Rome” was painted in 1781 and is estimated at €50–60,000 (lot 1353).
SCULPTURES AND STATUETTES
This season, the department presents 88 lots spanning from the 13th to the 19th century. Alongside large works in wood, the pieces on offer also include ivory and bronze figurines. Focus lies on works of the Late Gothic period (15th – 16th century) originating from Germany, the Netherlands and Flanders. Highlights include a 113cm high limewood figure of the Virgin by Hans Strigel the Elder (recorded in Memmingen 1432 – 1462 / lot 1423, est. €50–55,000), who is also represented by a further figure of a female saint bearing the same valuation (lot 1424). An oaken figure of Saint Agnes made in the Lower Rhine Region around 1530 is estimated at €40–50,000 (lot 1455), and a further, historically significant, figure of Saint Mary Magdalene worked in Utrecht circa 1530–1540 is valued at €20–25,000 (lot 1456).
Among the works in ivory of the 14th – 18th century, one particular highlight is a large representation of “The Good Shepherd” carved in Goa in the 17th/18th century. The figure measures 44cm in height and is estimated at €20–25,000 (lot 1484).
Highlight of the 19th century works on offer this spring is a decorative and atmospheric Venetian scene by Friedrich Nerly. The artist's views of Venice, where he settled in 1837, already enjoyed great popularity during his lifetime. “The Piazzetta di San Marco by Moonlight” from 1849 features one of Nerly's most famous motifs of the Piazzetta bathed in the silvery light of the moon, and is an unusually expansive version of this composition (lot 1512, est. €280–300,000). A further painting by this artist from 1832 shows a wine grower's procession on Monte Circello, a foothill located around 90km south of Rome (lot 1514, est. €80–100,000).
Lot 1527, "Schoolchildren in a Mountainous Landscape”, is a characteristic example of Carl Spitzweg's work, estimated at €80–90,000. The Austrian artist Carl Schuch was barely known throughout his lifetime due to the fact that he only ever exhibited two of his works. His standing as a European artist has only recently begun to be discovered thanks to two retrospective exhibitions in Mannheim/Munich and Vienna. His astonishingly modern work “Still Life with Flowers and Apples” from the year 1885 is here valued at €30–40,000 (lot 1543). Wilhelm Leibl's “Girl's Head – so called Malresl” is estimated at €40–60,000 (lot 1544). The auction also features four paintings by Hans Thoma, including “On the Banks of the River Main near the Gerbermühle”, valued at €30-–40,000 (lots 1550 – 1553).
Alongside depictions of the landscape around Rome, views of the Bay of Naples with Mount Vesuvius and the Island of Capri as well as the Bay of Pozzuoli with Capo Miseno and the Island of Ischia were among the trademark motifs of Franz Ludwig Catel, and were eagerly purchased by collectors throughout Europe. The image featured in this auction shows a coastal view of Naples enriched by a depiction of two fishermen with their boat and two figures collecting shells (lot 1516, est. €38–40,000).
Carl Rottmann is represented by a view of “Dachstein Mountain near Gosau in the Salzkammergut”. His landscape views of Germany tend, unjustly, to be overshadowed by the interest in his depictions of Greek and Italian landscapes, but they nevertheless represent an equally important and outstanding addition to Rottmann's oeuvre (lot 1507, est. €25–30,000). The sale will also feature three of Oswald Achenbach's Italian landscapes under lot numbers 1536–1538, valued at up to €35,000, and the offer is rounded off by the works of Franz von Stuck, Hans Makart and Anselm Feuerbach.