Distinguished by several exciting discoveries, Sotheby's May 5, 2011 sale of 19th Century European Art celebrates the diverse artistic traditions that preceded and coincided with Impressionism. The select, tightly-curated sale exclusively represents the best works of each artist and is punctuated by a suite of exquisite marble sculptures.
Of the many masterpieces in the sale, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema is prominently represented by his cinematic opus, The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra: 41 BC. In this magnificent painting, Alma-Tadema draws inspiration from Shakespeare's prose and on his own expert knowledge of ancient artifact which contributes to this iconic image that would become the inspiration for theatrical and filmed versions of the famed story. Other Victorian highlights include works by John William Godward, Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys, John Melhuish Strudwick and Albert Joseph Moore.
The sale features brilliant achievements in the Academic tradition, including Jules Breton's critically acclaimed 1872 Salon entry, Jeune fille gardant des vaches, Jean Richard Goubie's L'après midi du dimanche au jardin d'acclimatation, and a selection of works by William Bouguereau and his contemporaries. Of note is the reappearance of Les Oranges, a major canvas and superb example of Bouguereau's virtuosity, as well as two preparatory paintings that remained in Bouguereau's studio and have since been passed down through the artist's family.
Other major discoveries include a lost version of Fernand Pelez's monumental 1888 Salon entry, Grimaces et misère: les saltimbanques, which is featured as the catalogue cover. Viewers will also be delighted to discover the Venetian artist, Frederico Zandomeneghi. Championed by Degas and an exhibitor in four of the landmark Impressionist shows, his beautiful pastel, Young Girl Playing with a Doll, was last recorded in 1901 when Durand-Ruel sold it to a private American collector. Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot contributes a number of paintings, including three rare portraits from the 1830's that are previously unrecorded. Other works by Jean-François Raffaëlli, Adolph Von Menzel and Gustave Courbet round out this collection of works of the highest quality with unparalleled freshness to the market.