T his September we are delighted to offer Old Master and British works on paper from the 16th to the 19th centuries, including drawings, watercolours and portrait miniatures from the celebrated collections of Carlos Alberto Cruz and the late Timothy Clowes.
A group of drawings from the Chilean architect and Founder of The Apelles Collection, Carlos Alberto Cruz, were successfully auctioned earlier this year across our July sales, which saw energetic bidding for drawings by Spanish artists, whose works seldom come to market. This final group, offered online this September, includes a number of works by Spanish and other European artists, including Francisco Herrera the Younger, Jeronimo de Bobadilla, Antonio del Castillo and Pablo Cespedes. In addition to this collection, we have other exciting and attractive drawings from the Italian, French and Dutch schools, depicting a wide variety of genres.
During his lifetime Timothy Clowes was an enthusiastic and avid collector, with interests that ranged from Chinese jades to English pictures! In this sale, Sotheby’s is delighted to offer rare works from his collections of portrait miniatures and early drawings. Highlights include works by Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619), Samuel Cooper (1609-1672), Richard Cosway (1742-1821), John Smart (1741-1811), Paul Sandby (1731-1809), Thomas Girtin (1775-1802), John Constable (1776-1837), John Sell Cotman (1782-1842) and Samuel Palmer (1805-1881).
As a collector, Chilean architect Carlos Alberto Cruz, founder of The Apelles Collection, has wide-ranging interests that include Colonial Silver, Twentieth-Century Photography, incunabula and manuscripts, medieval liturgical objects, and contemporary Latin American art.
When, in the early 1990s, his attention was captured by Golden Age Spain in all its cultural aspects, he was one of a tiny minority of collectors looking at Spanish drawings. His activity played an important role in the increasing prominence of the Spanish Golden Age, and coincided with a growing number of international exhibitions to which he lent generously.
This was a new Golden Age, one of scholarly and museological interest - outside and inside of Iberia - in the visual arts of Spain. With greater subtlety and depth than ever before, Golden Age Spanish Art occupies an increasingly prominent place in the panorama of art history and collecting. Mr Cruz recognised that in an Italo-centric art historical discourse, Spanish visual arts were somehow “other” and it was their distinctive qualities - sometimes emphatic, sometimes restrained - that merited his special interest. It is an historical fact that many surviving Spanish drawings reveal a past in which they were studied in painters' workshops, not the cabinets of connoisseurs. Very often, drawings first belonged to and were passed between collections of practising artists, and they existed in the context of the working studio, where they might play a significant part in the creative process.
The connoisseurship and enjoyment of drawings has been likened to the musical taste that prefers chamber music to symphonies. In this sense, appreciation of the delicate intimacy, varied purposes and aesthetic life of Spanish drawings has marked the Cruz collection as one of singular taste and discernment.
A number of the drawings from the Cruz collection come from the eminent collection of the Scottish Art Historian, Politician and author of the Annals of the Artists of Spain (1848), Sir William Stirling-Maxwell of Keir (1818 – 1878). Stirling-Maxwell was an extremely important figure in the development and understanding of Spanish art. He began collecting works by Spanish artists at a time when there appeared to be no strong interest or taste amongst British collectors for this particular field, thus allowing him to obtain works by prominent hands such as Goya and El Greco, with little or no competition. Sir William was one of the earliest collectors of Spanish art in Great Britain and he traveled extensively throughout Spain during his career. His studies and Annals laid the foundations for the following generations of scholars of Spanish art.
As well as paintings, Stirling-Maxwell collected works on paper, both for pleasure and academic purposes, giving him ample material to assist in creating his Annals of Spanish Artists. A large number of Spanish drawings from his collection are now housed in the Courtauld, London. They were bequeathed by Sir Robert Witt, who had acquired them on the art market via Sir William’s eldest son, Sir John Stirling-Maxwell (1866 – 1956). As the majority of drawings from Sir William’s collection have been dispersed in modern times, the group at the Courtauld is an important assemblage in terms of gaining insight into Stirling-Maxwell as a collector and it remains the largest holding of his drawings in the country, aside from the British Museum. Many of the Spanish paintings from his collection are now in Pollok House, Glasgow.
The interesting group, acquired by Carlos Alberto Cruz in 1995, includes drawings by Antonio del Castillo and Pablo de Céspedes, among others. The drawings came from Sir William’s second son, Brigadier-General Archibald Stirling (1867 – 1931), who inherited them from his father.
These sketches and drawings are not only important records of works by some of the lesser-known Spanish artists, but they also convey the passion of two distinguished collectors of Spanish works of art, who both had a similar vision: a desire to promote and encourage the understanding of the art of the Spanish Golden Age.
I first met Tim Clowes at a pre-sale viewing in early 2005. I was just out of university and was over the moon to have secured a long hoped-for job at Sotheby’s. We struck up a conversation where my enthusiasm as much as my inexperience were no doubt equally on display!
Perhaps taking pity upon me, Tim divulged that he had dabbled in collecting and, should I have the time, I would be more than welcome to come over and ‘have a rummage.’ He explained that he lived in Shepherd Market, just five minutes from Sotheby’s and that he very often lunched at the appropriately named L’Artiste Musclé, an excellent French bistro only a few steps away from his front door. Why didn’t we make a plan to meet there the following week?
That lunch turned out to be the first of many. Tim was great company and generous with his time. He was full of stories - always told with a twinkle in his eye - and it soon became clear that he was a man of many interests. He was much travelled, he was an avid follower of motor-racing (indeed for a time he was involved in Formula 1), he loved Kent and in particular Whitstable (where he once owned a house overlooking the sea), and he was a keen and knowledgeable gardener.
I soon discovered that he was a passionate art collector and that his flat was an Aladdin’s cave, stuffed to the gunnels with pictures and objets d’art. Immediately obvious, as they were hung on the walls, were the drawings and watercolours. I was memerized by the early plumbago drawings on vellum and the large groups of elegant portraits and figure studies by later 18th century masters such as John Downman, John Smart and George IV’s favourite, Richard Cosway. Closer inspection revealed the existence of drawings by major 19th century hands, such as the study of cottages by John Constable or the Italian landscape painted by Samuel Palmer on his honeymoon to that country in 1834-5.
What was not immediately obvious, because they were hidden away, was Tim’s extensive and very fine collection of portrait miniatures, where the 17th century was particularly well represented. Tim gave me free rein to explore the drawers and cabinets where these treasures were kept and I was constantly amazed by what I found.
Tim sadly died at the beginning of last year and he is much missed by all who knew him. On a number of occasions he said to me how much fun he had had building the collection – he loved the buzz of a gallery opening or the unique atmosphere of an auction. I am delighted that his family have asked Sotheby’s to prepare this sale, and I have no doubt that now these rare and beautiful works will go on to find another good home.
This sale includes six works on paper by Johan Zoffany, R.A (lots). The drawings 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 sensitive and 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 drawing’s 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, Bruun 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 does 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.
The Indian Mutiny, which ended after more than two years of bloodshed in 1859, had excited the interest of the British public. The printer William Day – encouraged by the sales of William Simpson’s Crimea book The Seat of War in the East (1855-56) which he had printed for Colnaghi’s, and the success of John Frederick Lewis’s book The Holy Land (1842-45) with its 250 lithographic illustrations – thought he could revive the flagging fortunes of his business by producing a book on India. Simpson was commissioned to make the illustrations and spent three years travelling in India drawing monuments, landscapes and scenes of everyday Indian life which seemed so exotic to the public at home.
On his return to London, Simpson spent four years finishing 250 watercolours. Many had even been transferred to stone for lithographic reproduction when Day went bankrupt – a complete shock to Simpson who was unaware of Day’s financial troubles. He had already paid his own expenses throughout the trip to India and was listed as being owed £2,800 by the company even losing all his watercolours after they were disposed of as bankrupt stock. He wrote, ‘this was the big disaster of my life. When the crash came, I was really left a beggar. I had not a penny. Here was the reward of my seven years’ work’.
We are delighted to present three of Simpson’s Indian watercolours in this sale.