6 Major Rediscoveries of European Art

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Season after season, Sotheby’s European Art department presents exciting discoveries, often exhibiting masterpieces seen for the first time in generations. From scenes depicting bustling French streets to intimate portrayals of opulent interiors, the following works represent unprecedented opportunities for collectors and viewers alike. Click ahead to see six paintings with exceptional provenance that have been in private collections for over a century. –Mark Buck

European Art
22 November | New York

6 Major Rediscoveries of European Art

  • Jean Béraud, Après l'office à l'église de la Sainte Trinité, Noël 1890. Estimate $600,000–800,000.
    Jean Béraud’s iconic scene Après l'office à l'église de la Sainte Trinité, Noël, 1890  was commissioned by the American businessman, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., publisher of the New York Herald. Bennett settled in France and launched the European edition of the newspaper, what is now known as the International Herald Tribune. Promoting cross-cultural friendship was likely Bennett’s objective for the work, which he subsequently illustrated on the front page of the New York Herald’s Christmas edition in 1901 and donated to the Cathedral in 1902.  It has remained in their collection ever since. 

  • Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret, Madone à la Treille. Estimate $60,000–80,000.
    Long thought to be lost, Madone à la treille   marks an important rediscovery within Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan-Bouveret's multi-faceted œuvre. Painted in 1888, it is a magnificent example of French Naturalist painting, a genre that he would come to define, and it foreshadows the Symbolist influence that he embraced at the turn of the century as well as the later religious scenes inspired by Renaissance and Pre-Raphaelite artists.  

  • Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Fortune's Favourite. Estimate $150,000–200,000.
    Alma-Tadema kept Fortune’s Favourite   in his studio for four years, working on it alongside Spring, now in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, where it is among the museum’s most popular works of art. One of the painting’s early owners was Brooklyn’s William D. Hoxie, who bought it at auction in 1917 for a substantial price as a wedding gift for his daughter Isabelle. Kept in the family ever since, Fortune’s Favourite has been known only by an engraving, and its exhibition today is its first in over a century. 

  • Alfred Stevens, Ready for the Fancy Dress Ball. Estimate $500,000–700,000.
    Ready for the Fancy Dress Ball   was bought by the American industrialist and philanthropist William Henry Vanderbilt for an astonishing 50,000 francs in 1879, and he hung it prominently in his home on Fifth Avenue. This work is a masterpiece of 19th Century European Art and this represents the first time that it has been exhibited in decades. 

  • Franz von Stuck, An der Quelle (Lauschende Nymphe). Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    As with much of his production, Franz Von Stuck gave An der Quelle   to Galerie Heinemann, his main dealer, in 1901. It was later acquired by Baron Bela Rudyansky, a Budapest lawyer, art collector and foreign minister to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and it remained with his descendants for over a century. The painting has only been known by a black and white image – exhibited today for the first time in well over a century, marking an important rediscovery in the artist’s œuvre. 

  • Marie-François Firmin-Girard, Le dimanche au Bas-Meudon. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    By the time that he presented his ambitious, panoramic canvas Le dimanche au Bas-Meudon   at the Salon of 1884, Marie-Francois Firmin-Girard was already very established. This painting was so well received that he chose to exhibit it again at Paris’s Exposition Universelle of 1889. Unseen in public for well over a century, the reappearance of Le dimanche au Bas-Meudon provides fresh insight into the work of Firmin-Girard. 


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