Four highlights from the upcoming Old Master Evening Sale in London turn the spotlight on an exciting phase in the city's artistic significance during the 1750s, and the enduring legacies of three European masters of landscape painting.
The year 1750 marked a pivotal point in Italian and French Landscape painting and the upcoming Old Masters Evening Sale in London will shed light on some of the most important works produced at the time, as Andrew Fletcher, Head of Sotheby’s London Old Masters Auction Sales explains: “Rome was perhaps the most important cosmopolitan centre and thriving art market in Europe in the 1750s, with grand tourists, European noblemen, collectors, dealers and artists all flocking to the city to admire the sites and acquire works of arts.’’
GIOVANNI PAOLO PANINI, ROME, A VIEW OF THE FORUM LOOKING TOWARDS THE CAPITOL. ESTIMATE £1,000,000—1,500,000
The artists of the day were commissioned to paint the views of the city and its environs by patrons wishing to own a document of this exceptional period in the city. Rome acted as the hub for the contemporary landscape painters of the time, who broke new ground with their style and subject matter. One such figure was Giovanni Paolo Panini – a painter and architect who depicted the most famous landmarks in Rome, in a warm Mediterranean light.
LOUIS-GABRIEL BLANCHET, PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST GIOVANNI PAOLO PANINI (1691–1765). ESTIMATE £150,000—200,000
His work, Rome, a view of the Forum looking towards the Capitol (Lot 38) was the only painting this celebrated artist made from this vantage point and he was able to include many aspects of contemporary Roman life, existing side-by-side with ancient monuments and buildings. The sale will also include the only known stand-alone portrait of the artist – Portrait of the Artist Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765) (Lot 37) – painted by his contemporary, Louis-Gabriel Blanchet, a respected Parisian portraitist known for his depictions of the most wealthy and powerful citizens of Europe.
CLAUDE-JOSEPH VERNET CLAIR DE LUNE: A MEDITERRANEAN HARBOUR BY MOONLIGHT WITH FISHERFOLK BY A FIRE ON THE SHORE, A NATURAL ARCH BEYOND. ESTIMATE £3,000,000—5,000,000
Panini had great respect for the French artists working in the city and was himself affiliated with many French patrons and institutions, having taught perspective at the French Academy in Rome, where he influenced the work of Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Hubert Robert and Claude-Joseph Vernet – whose Le Soir: A Mediterranean harbour at sunset with fisherfolk and merchants on a quay is also offered in the Old Masters Evening Sale in a pair with Clair de lune: a Mediterranean harbour lit by moonlight with fisherfolk by a fire on the shore, a natural arch beyond (Lot 40), both painted in 1752.
CLAUDE-JOSEPH VERNET, LE SOIR: A MEDITERRANEAN HARBOUR AT SUNSET WITH FISHERFOLK AND MERCHANTS ON A QUAY.
Vernet, arguably the most famous view painter of the second half of the 18th century, arrived in Rome from Paris in 1734 and was quickly recognised as a precocious talent. He often worked in pairs like this, fascinated by the contrasts; in light and dark, in land and sea, and in the man-made and organic. This arresting duo was commissioned by Ernst Guido, Graf von Harrach, a Viennese nobleman who greatly admired Vernet’s technical precision and evocative results. They appear for sale here for only the second time in their history, cementing their place as masterful examples of revolutionary landscape painting.