On the stage and behind the curtain of the capital city

Auction 1242 - April 20, 2024 in Berlin

Lempertz traditionally opens its German auction season in Berlin. The stories told by this special city resonate in the works of art from across the centuries and genres.

Barbara Rosina Lisiewska-de Gasc, active on the Berlin art scene of the 1730s, offers us a glimpse into 18th century society with her Allegory of the Sense of Hearing(lot 53, estimate € 80/100,000). She was the daughter of the painter Georg Lisiewski, pupil of Antoine Pesne, sister of Anna Dorothea Therbusch and portraitist of the nobility living in the capital.

Her portraits and fêtes champêtres provide an insight into the high society of her time, and her Allegory of the Sense of Hearing also becomes a society report. The lute player is probably the "flying goddess" Barbara Campanini, one of Europe's most colourful stage stars, whose apartment near Pariser Platz was a meeting place for the Berlin art scene. 

Allegory of Fire(lot 54, estimate € 60/70,000) is by Nicolas Lancret. Friedrich II was one of Lancret's greatest collectors, and 26 of his works can still be found in the palaces of Berlin and Potsdam today. This allegory, designed as a supraporte, was also part of a room decoration and from a series depicting the elements, the other pieces of which have since been lost. A complete series of four allegories depicting the seasons can be found in the Louvre.

The Bust of the Opera Singer Henriette Sontag by Schadow pupil Ludwig Wilhelm Wichmann (lot 263, estimate € 10/15,000) will take us back to the Berlin stage in the auction on 20 April. A century after Barberina, Henriette Sontag conquered the audiences of Europe and especially Berlin as a coloratura soprano. She turned down a marriage proposal from Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau, but he nevertheless erected a gilded bust of the honoured star based on the same model by Wichmann in his famous Branitz Park.

The Kronprinzenpalais stood next to the opera house on the boulevard Unter den Linden until it was demolished in 1961 and has since been replaced by a reconstruction. The original building was also remodelled several times. Wilhelm Brücke takes us back to 1840 in his Parade in front of the Kronprinzenpalais Unter den Linden (lot 269, estimate € 40/60,000).

Unter den Linden is not only the address of the Berlin State Opera: dramatic events also took place on this boulevard in 1878 when an attack on Kaiser Wilhelm I with 48 shotgun pellets seriously injured the 81-year-old monarch. Adolf von Menzel was surprised by the news while working in his studio not far from the scene, where, as he noted immediately afterwards, he had just completed a Portrait Study of a Moroccan (lot 322, estimate € 6/8,000). The sitter belonged to the first Moroccan legation to Berlin. When the visit was overshadowed by the assassination attempt, Menzel also made a sketch of the emperor on the top right of the same sheet. This exciting piece has only recently come to light.

Tropical Landscape in Venezuela with Bathers (lot 281, estimate € 25/30,000) by Ferdinand Bellermann, who knew the country from his own experience, takes us far away from Berlin. Bellermann financed his trip with a scholarship from the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, and Alexander von Humboldt, who was still fondly remembered and held in high esteem in Venezuela, gave him a letter of recommendation.

The KPM porcelains with their fine paintings form a traditional part of the Berlin art auctions and are eagerly awaited by collectors. Views of the city are a popular theme, and this auction also includes a rare vase with two views of the Alps (lot 277, estimate € 12/15,000).

Other special features of the upcoming auction include numerous works made of iron, from the finest pieces of jewellery to the 52-centimetre-high Warwick Krater (lot 163, estimate € 10/15,000),probably from the Royal Iron Foundry. Only three of these iron designs modelled on the famous marble crater from Hadrian's Villa are known. 

The 339-lot catalogue of the Berlin auction is available online and also contains a wide range of silver, glass and porcelain.

Preview in Berlin, Poststr. 21-22, from 12-18 April, 10 am - 5 pm, vernissage 11 April, 6 pm - 9 pm.

Auction Dates

Auction 1242 - The Berlin Sale

Fine Art Decorative Arts
Saturday 20. 04. 2024
Lot 1 - 339
Auction 1242
Saturday April 20, 2024
11 am

Kunsthaus Lempertz
Poststr. 21-22
10178 Berlin
Thursday April 11, 2024
6 - 9 p.m.

Friday April 12 to Thursday April 18
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Friday April 19
by arrangement
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Jan Bykowski
Press and public relations