Old Master Paintings & Works on Paper Day Auction

Old Master Paintings & Works on Paper Day Auction

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 267. Three drawings from ‘Claude Martin’s folio’.

Johann Zoffany, R.A.

Three drawings from ‘Claude Martin’s folio’

No reserve

Lot Closed

July 4, 11:46 AM GMT


6,000 - 8,000 GBP

Lot Details


Johann Zoffany, R.A.

Frankfurt 1733-1810 London

Three drawings from ‘Claude Martin’s folio’

including Roman Charity; an allegory of punishment; and the figure of Victory or Hope standing next to an anchor

each black, white and red chalk on grey-green paper

each: circa 252 by 214 mm


Major-General Claude Martin (1735-1800),

Benjamin Wolff (1790-1866), Copenhagen,

by descent until sale, Copenhagen, Bruun Rasmussen (The Wolff Collection), 30 May 2018, part of lot 437,

Where acquired by the present owner 

The drawings that make up this lot once formed part of a larger group of fifty-three works that Zoffany assembled in the late 1790s and that, in 1799, he sent to India for the attention of his old friend Major-General Claude Martin (1735-1800), a Frenchman whom he had met while working on the subcontinent during the previous decade. 

Zoffany’s drawings for Martin were diverse in theme. With images derived from the biblical, mythological, historical and modern worlds, as well as a number of intimate portraits, it is thought that the contents of his gift were designed to reflect both men’s interests, humours and tastes.


Claude Martin died in 1800 with no heirs, so his executors arranged for his extensive collections to be sold. The drawings’ next documented owner was Benjamin Wolff (1790-1866), a brilliant Danish lawyer, who lived in Calcutta between 1817 and 1829. During his time in India, Wolff amassed a great fortune and also began to build what would become one of Denmark’s most revered art collections. In 1829, he moved back to Denmark and bought a substantial house called Engelholm Manor on southern Zealand. Here, he housed his collections which, by the end of his life, comprised more than 2,000 drawings from both the European and Indian schools.


After his death in 1866, Wolff’s drawings remained with his descendants for a further five generations. In May 2018, Brunn Rasmussen Auctioneers in Copenhagen held a major sale within which the Zoffanys appeared as one lot and were acquired by the present owner. Despite the fame of Wolff’s collection, its contents had never been published and, until that point, scholars had been unaware of the existence of Zoffany’s drawings. Their re-emergence has caused great excitement in academic circles, as not only did the group triple the number of known surviving works on paper by Zoffany, but the images themselves also act as windows into the mind of one of the greatest artists of the Age of Enlightenment.