THE PROPERTY OF A COUNT
Titian's original series was painted around 1537-38 for Duke Federigo Gonzaga of Mantua. In 1627-28 the set was sold by the Mantuan government to Charles I of England. They then entered a collection in Spain, were destroyed there in a fire in 1734, and are now known only from Aegidius and Marcus Sadeler's etchings. The Sadelers were a family of Flemish engravers, publishers and print sellers who were active throughout Europe for three generations. They played a dominant role in European graphic art, producing a wide range of high quality work. Although the sources for Sadeler’s portraits of the empresses are lost, it has been proposed that he based them on works by Hans von Aachen (1552-1615) or Bartholomeus Spranger (1546-1611), who like Sadeler, were court artists to Emperor Rudolf II in Prague.
Portrait series showing Roman emperors and empresses were in high demand from the late 17th century onwards, mainly due to the increasing popularity of the ‘Grand Tour’. Of note in this set is the use of marble as a support, which is unusual and seems to have been intended to emphasize the 'all antico' effect of the classical models. The style of these portraits with their opulent use of decorative details and gilding is comparable to the work of the Italian painter and engraver Angelo Guiducci (active in Rome and Austria, 1743 -1779).
Please note that 5 out of the total 25 panels which constitute this lot will be available for viewing by prospective buyers at Sotheby’s New Bond Street premises. The remaining 20 panels will remain in their current location outside the United Kingdom where they will be available for viewing by prospective buyers by appointment with Sotheby’s, and for collection by the successful buyer following the sale of the lot. High resolution images of all the panels are available on Sotheby’s website, sothebys.com. Should you have any queries regarding the sale of this lot please contact Catherine Lynn, Sale Administrator (Catherine.Lynn@sothebys.com or +44 (0) 20 7293 5473).
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