Lot 1
  • 1

Workshop of Joos van Cleve

18,000 - 25,000 USD
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  • Joos van Cleve
  • Virgin and Child
  • oil on panel, unframed


Possibly with Wildenstein & Co., circa 1947.1


The following condition report has been provided by Karen Thomas of Thomas Art Conservation LLC., 336 West 37th Street, Suite 830, New York, NY 10018, 212-564-4024, info@thomasartconservation.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. The picture is in excellent condition overall, with remarkably well-preserved, thinly applied paint layers. The delicate modeling in the flesh tone and tiny brushstrokes defining the edges and folds of the transparent veil are particularly striking, remaining unbroken by cleaning damage that can so easily happen over the centuries. Restoration, clearly visible under ultraviolet illumination, compensates for narrow losses following the vertical wood grain running through the child's face and shoulder, between the ear and proper right eye. Minimal strokes of restoration glazes and scumbles address spots in the Virgin's garments and dark cracks traversing the flesh passages. Toning has been applied to the background, possibly to quickly conceal increased transparency of the dark pigments, a normal aging mechanism that develops over time. The background is also coated with a thick, highly fluorescent natural resin varnish; the varnish was selectively removed from the figures. The vertically grained wood panel, comprised of one board, is planar and appears stable. The reverse has been thinned and augmented with a robust cradle composed of ten vertical fixed members and four mobile horizontal members. The painting reads beautifully in its current state and may be displayed and enjoyed as is. Removing the toning and heavy varnish in the background may allow for a more sympathetic appearance.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

As indicated by the many versions of this tender depiction of the Virgin nursing the Christ Child, it was one of the most popular compositions produced by the workshop and followers of Joos van Cleve in Antwerp.  The prime version, in a European private collection, is dated by John Hand to circa 1511/1514.2

1. According to a photograph in the M.J. Friedländer archive at the RKD, The Hague (image no. 0000061865).
2. See J.O. Hand, Joos van Cleve, Yale 2005, p. 115, cat. no. 6, reproduced p. 25, fig. 14.