Old Masters, New Clothes: Highsnobiety Drops Sotheby's Streetwear Line

Old Masters, New Clothes: Highsnobiety Drops Sotheby's Streetwear Line

A tag from the Sotheby's and Highsnobiety collaboration.

I n the last year Sotheby’s has illustrated just how many people look to the Masters for inspiration, from fashion designer Victoria Beckham, who championed women artists with The Female Triumphant, to The Strokes drummer Fab Moretti, who recently collaborated with art dealer Fabrizio Moretti on an interactive exhibition (and 100% sold sale). For its latest Masters Week, beginning 24 January, Sotheby’s New York has partnered with the streetwear savants of Highsnobiety for a limited-edition collection featuring Italian, Dutch and Flemish auction highlights. Designed by Highsnobiety, the line includes T-Shirts for €65, crewneck sweatshirts for €105 and hoodies for €125. Starting 20 January, the collection will be available for purchase through Highsnobiety’s online store, as well as at Co.Lab, Highsnobiety’s special pop-up shop at Selfridges in London. Below, discover a sneak preview of the collection and learn more about the featured artworks.

T-Shirt featuring An Imaginary Landscape with Allegories of Abundance and Charity by the Prague School, circa 1600. €65. Highsnobiety.com

A n elaborate allegorical scene unfolds across this large canvas. As abundance, a female figure with golden hair and a crown of red flowers is surrounded by the traditional features like her cornucopia, and at her feet rest animals nursing their young. As charity, she holds her hand to her breast, and the children that normally would closely surround her instead appear in the guise of putti, each representing one of the four earthly elements. While this work may at first seem to recall the large allegorical paintings made in Florence in the last quarter of the sixteenth century by Northern artists, in composition and handling it correlates with works that arose from Rudolf II's court in Prague around the year 1600, where there was an increased interest in exotic animals, flora, fauna and allegorical details.

"We hope that through this partnership, we are able to introduce a new type of collector to Sotheby's, and share the exclusive Old Master Paintings collection with people who never dreamed of owning this art. Furthermore we at Highsnobiety always seek out to align our brand with the most iconic and best in every field, while surprising our audience with partnerships and collaborations that they would not expect every day."
David Fischer, Highsnobiety CEO and Founder

A s a memento mori, this image calls attention to transience of life and the inevitability of death. Yet, the old Netherlandish text that runs throughout provides a moralizing tale, reminding audiences of the last judgement and the possibility of divine salvation. Particularly after several plagues swept Europe in the Middle Ages, Netherlandish and German artists were fascinated with the subject of death and regularly explored the theme.

T-Shirt featuring A Sea-Nymph, Probably Galatea by Ginevra Cantofoli. €65. Highsnobiety.com

A lthough many of her paintings are lost, Ginevra Cantolofi specialized in female figures, and her appearance is known thanks to a self-portrait; the features of many of her female figures resemble her own. Sea-nymph is one of her masterpieces and most likely depicts Galatea, a popular subject in seventeenth-century painting. Here, she wears a crown of diverse mollusk shells and holds a coral, though she typically appears riding a shell chariot pulled by dolphins. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, Galatea transformed her mortal lover Acis into a river spirit after he was killed by the jealous Cyclops, Polyphemus. The nymph's white, almost transparent skin demonstrates that Cantofoli was familiar with classical texts describing Galatea, whose name means "milk-white."

T his dramatically lit and painstakingly detailed forest-floor still life is wholly characteristic of the output of Matthias Withoos, a Dutch artist also active in Italy whose style remains indebted to his teachers Jacob van Campen and Otto Marseus van Schrieck. The painting's rich color palette of shades of green, silver, yellow is enlivened by delicate touches of blue and white, and from with its variety of foliage appear lizards, butterflies, berries.

T hese oil-on-canvas works are a trompe l’œil evoking the work of Belgian artist, Piat Joseph Sauvage whose paintings imitated marble bas-reliefs. Examples of his grisailles can be found at the King's and Queen's Apartment at the Château of Compiègne, the Grand Salon of the Mesdames de France at the Château of Bellevue, the Petit Trianon in the little rotunda drawing-room of the small farm, and the Château of Chantilly's theater.

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