Lot 12
  • 12

Paolo Caliari, called Il Veronese

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
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  • Paolo Caliari, called Il Veronese
  • A sheet of studies: a pair of hands holding a glove, camels and figure studies
  • Pen and brown ink and wash, upper corners made up;
    inscribed: Sopotamia [q]ual avendo [a]dmento molte/[v]olte di fare


Jonathan Richardson, Sen. (L.2184), on his mount, with his attribution in pen and brown ink: Paolo Veronese, and his shelf marks on the backing: Jq. 43./S;
Thomas Hudson (L.2432);
Sir Joshua Reynolds (L.2634);
John, Lord Northwick (1770-1859),    
then by inheritance at Northwick Park,
to Capt. E.G. Spencer-Churchill;
The Earl of Harewood,
his sale and others, Christie's, 6 July 1965, lot 147, reproduced (£3,600 to Calmann);
With Hans Calmann, London from whom acquired by Paul Oppé's daughter, Armide Oppé, in 1965


Venice, Mostra de Paolo Veronese, Ca'Giustiniani, 1939, no. 9, pl. XVI;
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, The Art of Paolo Veronese, 1988, p. 196, no. 101, reproduced (catalogue by R. Rearick)


T. Borenius, 'A Group of Drawings by Paul Veronese', The Burlington Magazine, vol. XXXVIII, no. 215, 1921, p. 59, note 7;
D. von Hadeln, Venezianische Zeichnungen der Spät-renaissance, Berlin 1926, reproduced pl. 27;
P.H. Osmond, Paolo Veronese, his career and work, Bologna 1927, p. 101;
G. Fiocco, Veronese, Bologna 1928, p. 208;
H. Tietze and E. Tietze-Conrat, The Drawings of the Venetian Painters, New York 1944, p. 346, no. 2102, reproduced;
R. Cocke, Veronese's Drawings, London, 1984, p. 239, no. 101, reproduced


Laid down on the old Richardson mount. Overall in good condition. There is a small loss below the thumb of the hand to the right and in the brown wash below the same hand. Some very light blue wash stain in this area. Some very small scattered light brown stains. A small cut to the left of the bottom margin, and a small ridge in the paper below the middle of the right margin. Media strong.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

A handsome example of Veronese's late draughtsmanship, this drawing dates from a moment when the artist was working on a number of important commissions in Venice and beyond. As Richard Cocke has observed, Veronese was by this point unable to complete all the many important commissions that he received without considerable studio assistance, and entrusted more and more of the execution of his painted works to the workshop, so he actually devoted great attention to the preparation of late drawings such as this, which served to guide his assistants in their work.1 

The Oppé sheet was in the past associated with a number of Veronese’s paintings, but as both Cocke and Rearick (in the Washington exhibition catalogue) pointed out, it clearly consists of studies relating to the theme of Rebecca and Eleazar, a subject treated by Veronese in a number of painted versions, all generally dated around 1582, of which the earliest and most monumental is now at Versailles.2  Rearick rightly noted that the closest version to the present drawing is actually the one, mostly if not entirely executed by Veronese himself, now in the Yarborough Collection at Brocklesby Park (fig. 1).3 

In the lower part of the Oppé drawing, Veronese has, in his very characteristic style, made a series of rapidly noted figure studies.  The two standing figures close to the centre of the sheet can be identified as the main protagonists in the story of Rebecca and Eleazer, but the artist is here focussing mainly on resolving the position of a servant with a jewel case.  First he places this figure in between the two main figures, then he tries out an arrangement with the servant to the right, experimenting with different possible attitudes, before finally placing him to the extreme left, kneeling and seen from the back, as he would appear in the final painted version.  Above these quickly sketched ideas, Veronese has studied several camels’ heads, which seem closely related to the camel feeding in the right foreground of the Brocklesby Park painting.  The last part of this drawing to be executed, drawn over the camel’s heads at the edges, is the beautiful pair of female hands holding a glove. 

This last, very realistic, image, totally unrelated to the main subject of the drawing, would appear to have been drawn from life.  Veronese has first sketched the hands in pen and ink, and has then embellished them with abundant dark brown wash, which makes them not only by far the most striking motif within the page, but also almost three dimensional in their visual effect.  As Rearick noted, such a motif would most likely occur in an elegant portrait of a lady, though no related portrait by Veronese has so far been identified.  This is, according to Rearick, a drawing from the last years of Veronese’s life, executed between 1586 and 1588,4 a time when the artist seems to have favoured the use of a very heavy and pictorial dark brown wash to define and strongly emphasize the chiaroscuro in his compositions; see, for example, the Studies for the Raising of Lazarus and the Consacration of St Nicholas, in Berlin.5

Following Paolo Veronese’s death in 1588, and that of his son Carletto only some eight years later, the vast accumulation of unfinished pictures, cartoons, painted modelli, and around 1500 drawings, executed by various members of the family, passed to Veronese’s grandson Giuseppe Caliari. He lived to a considerable age, but after his death in 1681 all this material was finally dispersed, and a large number of the drawings entered the vast and famous Sagredo collection in Venice.

In the story of Rebecca and Eleazer at the Well, taken from the Old Testament and referred to in the truncated inscription, in Veronese's own hand, to the left of the sheet, we read how Eleazer, a servant of Abraham, was sent to Mesopotamia to find a wife for his master's son Isaac.  Encountering Rebecca when he stopped with his camels by a well, he asked her for water, and she gave some not only to him but also to his attendants and their camels.  Convinced by this kindness that she would make a good wife for Isaac, Eleazer presented her with jewels.

1. Cocke, op. cit., p. 227

2. Ibid., p. 238, reproduced fig. 71

3. Exhib. cat., Washington, National Gallery of Art, loc. cit.

4. loc. cit.

5. Berlin, Staatlische Museen, inv. no. KdZ 26361; see R. Cocke, op. cit., p. 237, no. 100, reproduced p. 236