Global Specialists Tour Sotheby’s European Art Sales

S otheby’s is excited to have a dynamic month of European Art sales this June across New York, London and Paris showcasing the diversity and magnificence of this period of art history during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. In this feature, our team of global European Art specialists select their favourite painting from across these series of sales.

Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, At Rest

ESTIMATE $20,000-30,000 | Offered in 19th Century European Art, 4–11 June, New York

"I really feel I am there in Benjamin-Constant’s little vignette set in a North African street, in which a merchant enjoys a siesta perched on the wall outside his stall. His face shielded from the blistering midday sun, the heat and the intense light are made all the more palpable though the artist’s clever use of chiaroscuro, contrasting the light-bleached wall with the cool shade inside the shop, in which all manner of arms and a fine leather saddle await custom to resume. This spontaneously observed scene could only have been painted by an artist traveler who had actually been there and seen it."
Claude Piening, Head of 19th Century European Paintings, London

Hippolyte-Camille Delpy, Le Pont Neuf et Le Quai des Orfevres, Paris

ESTIMATE £20,000 – 30,000 | Offered in European Art: Paintings & Sculpture, 12–18 June, London

"Over the past several months, I’ve rarely journeyed outside of my Brooklyn neighborhood — making Hippolyte-Camille Delpy’s composition a welcome window to my other favorite city: Paris. As a student of Charles-François Daubigny, Delpy was also influenced by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (whose The Crystal Palace, London, lot 28, is another favorite of the sale). And while Delpy is perhaps most well-known for his vibrant compositions of the French countryside, this urban scene is an equally expressive view of late nineteenth century Paris. With panoramic arrangement, Delpy explores the banks of the Seine, where one of the city’s iconic colonnes Morris is plastered with advertisements as a crowded omnibus crosses the Pont Neuf. Like any great destination, Delpy’s detailed cityscape invites repeat visits."
Seth Armitage, Head of 19th Century European Paintings, New York

Gaston La Touche, Open Fields Under a Cloudy Sky

ESTIMATE $20,000 – 30,000 | Offered in 19th Century European Art, 4–11 June, New York

"We might take for granted today what makes up a great landscape painting; divided into two halves by a cloudy blue sky on the one hand and beneath the horizon a golden field of wheat. However such a composition was actually surprisingly uncommon in 1892, when Latouche painted this great landscape. Renowned for his naturalist scenes as well as his ‘scènes de la vie mondaine’, Latouche was also capable of an uncommon originality. An underestimated artist such as Gaston Latouche, although usually considered as academic and superficial, is also able to paint with the utmost modernity, creating an image which is already close to abstraction. That is what I love about nineteenth century paintings - their hidden richness.”
Olivier Lefeuvre, Head of 19th Century & Russian Paintings, Paris

Eduard Gaertner, View of Moscow From the Church of Nikita the Martyr

ESTIMATE £200,000 – 300,000 | Offered in European Art: Paintings & Sculpture, 12–18 June, London

"My favourite painting in this series of European Art sales is Eduard Gaertners’ extensive panorama of Moscow viewed from the church of Nikita the martyr. Best known for his exquisite views of his hometown of Berlin, Gaertner’s skill at capturing beautiful architecture, his mastery at depicting light, and his ability to bring his compositions to life through his depiction of people who inhabit the space, rightly led to him being considered the most important German architectural view painter of the 19th century. Painted following a trip to Russia on invitation by Tsar Nicholas I, this rare view of Moscow with its unusual composition perfectly exemplifies why Gaertner is considered a master of this genre."
Tessa Kostrzewa, Senior Director, Senior Specialist, 19th Century European Paintings, London

Sir Alfred James Munnings, Unsaddling at Epsom, Summer Meeting

ESTIMATE $300,000-500,000 | Offered in 19th Century European Art, 4–11 June, New York

"Unsaddling at Epsom, Summer Meeting by Alfred Munnings captures all the excitement of a shared social experience in the summer sunlight, which we have all missed in the last few months. It represents the artist at his very best, painting a subject that brilliantly shows his understanding of horses and the men whose lives were lived amid the clatter of hooves and the roar of a crowd. Munnings was a true master of his art, sophisticated, technically brilliant and capable of powerful representation. I love the realism of the jockeys and grooms calming their horses whose bodies still surge with the adrenalin of the race – some are disappointed by their performance whilst others are buoyant with pride but they will not show either to the crowd of race-goers who have lost or gained with the betting-slips which litter the ground."
Simon Toll, Head of Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist Paintings, London

John Atkinson Grimshaw, Glasgow Docks

ESTIMATE £200,000 – 300,000 | Offered in European Art: Paintings & Sculpture, 12–18 June, London

"John Atkinson Grimshaw‘s attention to and treatment of light has always amazed me, and the technical precision exemplified in Glasgow Docks marks it as a favorite. Even though light is everywhere, from the blazing shopfronts to the distant glow of the city beyond, I especially love the subtle attention the artist paid to the palest corona around the full moon, which itself just peeks from between the clouds. No detail is too small for Grimshaw, and the legible street and shop signs make me feel as if I too could grab an apple from the street display and wander into Allsops for a bottle of wine. Grimshaw’s works never fail to remind me of my time studying in London, and in particular Glasgow Docks reminds me of rainy night walks home from the library and leaves me craving a strong cup of good tea."
Alexandra Allen, Specialist, Head of Sale, 19th Century European Paintings, New York

Charles Sprague Pearce, Saint Geneviève

ESTIMATE $60,000-80,000 | Offered in 19th Century European Art, 4–11 June, New York

“I love this modern reimagining of the fifth-century Saint Genevieve by Charles Sprague Pearce. It’s a great example of the Naturalist movement which reinvigorated academic painting, borrowing from Impressionism and photography. Led by Jules Bastien-Lepage, the style was practised internationally by artists from Glasgow to Helsinki, or as here, a Boston-born painter trained in Paris and working in Auvers-sur-Oise. Strange to think that this is the village where Vincent Van Gogh lived and died just a few years later.”
Richard Lowkes, Deputy Director, Specialist, 19th Century European Paintings, London

Ary Scheffer, Dante and Virgil meet Francesca da Ramini and Paolo Malatesta

ESTIMATE $10,000-15,000 | Offered in 19th Century European Art, 4–11 June, New York

"I will forever remember having to learn off by heart some of the most famous canti from Dante’s Inferno when in high school. Paolo and Francesca’s eternal conviction to suffering is unravelled in some of the most touching verses of the Divine Comedy, and I am sure they stuck in my mind as in that of many other readers. Yet here, I find comfort in Francesca’s seraphic expression, which recalls the eternal beauty of Raphael’s madonnas. She is indeed an anchor of hope to the many troubled and ill-fated lovers around the world."
Benedetta Pedrana, Cataloguer, 19th Century European Paintings, London

19th Century European Paintings
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