aintings Sculpture Drawings 1300-1900 brings together over a hundred works of art and spans 600 years of art history, from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. The sale features a wide variety of paintings and sculptures, from an important Gothic diptych in ivory to a rare bust of a Renaissance Humanist, through to an exceptional pair of Baroque vases in marble. The sale includes a number of previously unrecorded works and major discoveries and culminates with a group of major paintings from the 18th century by Joseph Vernet, Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Hubert Robert.
Vernet’s Magnificent Tribute to His Beloved Italy
Eugène Modeste Edmond Le Poittevin’s 'Bathing in Etretat'
Opting for a panoramic format that is astonishing in its originality – and indeed its modernity – Le Poittevin seems to have created, over one and a half metres, an almost cinematic tracking shot along the length of the beach at Etretat. Arrayed across it, from left to right, is a throng of figures enjoying themselves: bathers, fashionable women in crinolines, well-dressed men and peddlers.
The boards that were laid on the beach at Etretat allowed bathers and walkers to cross the sand and shingle with ease. Le Poittevin has inscribed the name of the town and the date of the painting on one of them.
Le Poittevin included several portraits of his friends in this painting. This adolescent has just emerged from the sea, wearing a black bathing costume and a cap, stooping and no doubt shivering from the cold water of the Channel. This is the famous French writer Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893), Le Poittevin’s great-nephew.
The bearded man in the centre of the composition may well be the painter Charles Landelle (1821-1908).
The other elegant bearded man on the right, reading his newspaper, is probably the illustrator and caricaturist Bertall (1820-1882).
An elegant crowd, most probably from Paris and dressed in city clothes, discovers a new pastime: sea bathing, but not without forgetting everyone's social rank.
The bathing huts evoke the delightful atmosphere of a Normandy summer and continue to be part of French seascapes for almost a century. We can find an example of them on this lithograph of Etretat's coast around the same time, by Léon-Auguste Asselineau.
Fragonard's Fascinating Painted Portraits
Dirk van Delen's 'The Lawyer's Cabinet'
This is probably one of the most accomplished paintings by the Dirck van Delen, primarily because of its subject matter and its original composition. Van Delen usually depicts imaginary Baroque architectural scenes populated by members of the court, but this painting is rather more elegant and anchored in the day-to-day life of 17th-century Holland. The children playing in the foreground, combined the size of the painting convey a more intimate dimension, but also invite the viewer to penetrate this sober and familiar interior, with a certain Dutch influence. The exquisite finish and the shimmering silks of the people's costumes are highly notable too.
A prosecutor is shown in his office, writing a document behind his lectern. As a public officer, his role is to receive complaints and to claim before a judge. As per an engraving from the same subject, the woman could be filing a complaint about her aide, who might be the man standing next to her holding a hat, who would not “cultivate her garden” with enough enthusiasm. The other figures are probably waiting for their turn. All the delicate figures in this composition are by Anthonie Palamedesz. (1602-1673).
Above the doorway the signature of the artist and the date of the painting (1642) have been proudly incised into the wood below the pediment, which features a sculpture of two angels supporting a laurel wreath, further enhancing the ‘figural’ coronation of the artist and his reputation.
As often in a lawyer’s or prosecutor’s office, books, paperwork, folded contracts and bags containing papers and money are hanging, all neatly ordered in a wall cabinet.
In the foreground a girl and a boy holding a mask are playing. The children here are depicted as ‘little adults’ as was often the case in the 17th Century, not just in their attire but also in their size.
A rather large painting depicting a mountainous landscape (possibly by Hercules Seghers?).
Perhaps conceived more freely, this scene reveals the true personality of the artist. Far from his usual obligations, Dirck van Delen realizes with this painting a masterpiece of an extremely high quality. Its originality, its renowned provenance – the Steengracht van Duivenvoorde family – and its exceptional condition are remarkable.
Van Delen himself was a socially prominent figure, for over four decades he served almost continuously on the town council, mostly as burgomaster of Middelburg. He would have found clients in this circle also, for architectural pictures of the kind he painted were expensive in Van Delen’s day, and appealed to sophisticated collectors with an interest in refined execution, perspective effects, and architecture per se.
The European Sculpture section of this sale ranges from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, offering works of art of every époque in a large variety of materials: stone, bronze, terracotta and marble, as well as enamel and ivory.
An important Gothic Ivory Diptych with Scenes of the Life of Christ, made in Paris around 1350-75, stands out for the high quality of its execution and its fantastic condition.
A rare 16th-century Renaissance painted Limoges enamel plaque, attributed to Pierre Reymond (active 1537-1578) and formerly in the Yves Saint Laurent collection, forms part of a series of enamels illustrating the Life of Christ, some of them in the Louvre.
Another major lot of the sale is this rare bronze and onyx Portrait bust of a Humanist, which captures the remarkable sense of an Intellectual and cultivated Humanist, perfectly illustrating the virtuosity of North Italian, Mantuan, Renaissance portraiture.
A pair of rare Veneto life-size stone figures of Apollo and Paris, attributed to Giacomo Cassetti (1682-1757), as well as an important pair of French, mid-18th century Baroque marble vases decorated with satyrs, bouquets of flowers and cornucopia, from the château de Pontchartrain are notable for the fine quality of their carving and fantastic modelling.
Previously unrecorded, these six important works on paper by Giuseppe Cadès and Jacques Gamelin probably belonged to the famous Toulouse-based art collector Jean-Pierre Marcassus de Puymaurin (1757-1841). He was especially interested in artists from his native region, like Gamelin. It is therefore likely that he acquired Cadès’ works directly from the Toulousian artist, who befriended Cadès during his trip to Rome.