H eading the auction is the masterpiece The Madonna of the Rosary with Angels by Giambattista Tiepolo – the last major altarpiece by the Venetian artist in private hands. The painting, composed in 1735, dates from a period that is considered to be the Tiepolo’s most significant. The canvas displays an early maturity for the artist; the emotion and grandiosity of the Venetian masters Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese are apparent in Tiepolo’s works of the 1730s.
Despite the artist’s prominent signature and date, as well as the monumental size of the canvas, the original location of the altar where the painting resided has yet to be determined. The altarpiece was most likely commissioned for a Dominican church, which was the order that was closely associated with promulgating the Rosary throughout Europe. Tiepolo would have been aware of this devotional practice, as it experienced a renewed emphasis during the papacy of the Dominican Pope Benedict XIII (1724-30).
An additional highlight is Sir Peter Paul Rubens’s The Virgin and Christ Child, With Saints Elizabeth and John the Baptist – a newly rediscovered masterwork. The extraordinary painting has been in private collections since 1946, when it was last sold at auction.
Rubens is one of the most well-known and revered artists of the Flemish Baroque style that flourished in the early 17th century. The Virgin and Christ Child, With Saints Elizabeth and John the Baptist is a large-scale painting that depicts the popular subject of the Christ Child and young John the Baptist.
Subsequent to World War II, the work was examined by renowned Rubens scholar Ludwig Burchard. However, the last time the painting was publicly exhibited was in 1951 in New York. For this reason, The Virgin and Christ Child, With Saints Elizabeth and John the Baptist was largely unknown to the scholarly community until it was brought to the attention of Sotheby’s Chairman George Wachter and Senior Vice President for Old Masters, Otto Naumann.