A Family Affair: Bacri Frères Highlights

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Heirs to 18th century ‘connoisseur’ collectors like the Fabius and Seligmann dynasties, the Bacri brothers were prominent art dealers of the mid-20th century. Their collection reflects both the individual taste of the private collector and the professional competence of the antique dealer and highlights will feature in a sale in Paris on 30 March. We owe the brothers several discoveries now gracing the walls of major museums: Lucas Cranach the Elder's Naiad in the Bremen Kunsthalle, a portrait attributed to Corneille de Lyon now in New York's Metropolitan Museum, mediaeval sculptures now housed in the Musée Rodin, and one of the best-known tapestries of the late Middle Ages: The Life of the Virgin, bequeathed to the Musée de Cluny. Click ahead to see highlights from the sale.

Bacri Frères – Antiquaires, Paris
30 March 2017 | Paris

A Family Affair: Bacri Frères Highlights

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    Corneille de La Haye called Corneille de Lyon, Portrait of Madame de Pisseleu, circa 1500-1575, oil on panel. Estimate €200,000-300,000  and A carved oak cabinet, early 17th century. Estimate €1,200-1,800


    One of the highlights of this collection is the portrait of Anne de Pisseleu, Duchesse d'Étampes (1508-1580), painted c. 1545 by Corneille de La Haye, known as Corneille de Lyon. This painting is one of two versions by Corneille. The first, now in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, is the liveliest and most touching picture of the Duchesse d'Étampes: the "amye parfaite" of the knight-king, and "the most learned among the beautiful and most beautiful among the learned."

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    Master Johannes, Saint John Baptist & Saint Agnes, oil on panel, a pair, wings of a triptych. Estimate €150,000-250,000


    Outstanding lots include two wings of a triptych by the extremely rare Master Johannes, belonging to a very small corpus of five paintings now found in Flanders and Spain. Only these two sections, showing St John the Baptist and St Agnes and the baptism of Christ, are still in private hands.

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    Bruges School circa 16th century, circle of Gérard David, Saint Joseph preparing the milk soup, oil on panel, fragment. Estimate €50,000-70,000. A pair of South German candlesticks, Nuremberg, circa 1500, dark brown patinated bronze candlesticks figuring two Wildemann. Estimate €5,000-7,000. Two South German candlesticks, Nuremberg, circa 1500, bronze candlesticks figuring a Landsknecht and a Wildemann. Estimate €5,000-7,000. A Rare Iznik 'Damascus' Style Pottery dish, Ottoman Turkey, circa 1540. Estimate €40,000-60,000


    The core of the collection is dominated by Old Master paintings and drawings but it also illustrates the brothers’ passion for works from different periods and civilisations. Medieval tapestries, one of Jacques Bacri's great specialities, respond to paintings by Flemish masters; antique torsos mingle with sculptures from Burgundy, and remarkable Iznik ceramics rub shoulders with porcelain vases from China and Sèvres.

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    Bruges School circa 16th century, circle of Gérard David, Saint Joseph preparing the milk soup, oil on panel, fragment. Estimate €50,000-70,000


    This remarkable image of a man in a turban stirring a bowl of soup is probably a fragment of a larger painting of the Holy Family. We know of at least seven versions of this religious subject by Gerard David, set in an everyday context - a composition very much in vogue in 17th-century Holland and Flanders. Its iconography, specific to early 16th century Flanders, is characterised by detailed, expressive faces and painting so clearly delineated that it seems almost drawn. The strong reds and figures standing out clearly against their background of Flemish architecture are also typical of the style found in Bruges at that time.

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    Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Couple dans un parc, brown wash on black chalk. Estimate €25,000-35,000. A carved walnut armchair, early 17th century. Estimate €600-800. A marble Esculapios torso, Roma, circa 2nd century AD. Estimate €50,000-80,000


    According to Clotilde Bacri Herbo: "My father Jacques adored discovering things, and was very keen on research, leaving behind valuable documentation on every object that passed through his hands. Collectors were his friends, and they all trusted him implicitly. Florence Gould gave him a free hand to design an entire room in her Cannes house for her mediaeval objects, which he chose with care and displayed with love. The Middle Ages and Renaissance were his great passion."

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    Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Couple dans un parc, brown wash on black chalk. Estimate €25,000-35,000


    One of the drawings highlights is this landscape by Jean-Honoré Fragonard of c. 1760. This ink wash drawing of a couple embracing, rapidly painted against a background of luxuriant vegetation, marvellously embodies the qualities that made the artist successful. Here we can see his penchant for love scenes. This composition, marked by his stay in Italy and discovery of Tivoli, is no longer a minutely detailed observation of nature, but an interpretation now free of any formal constraints.

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    A classical tapestry fragment, Southern Netherlands, circa 1450-1460. Estimate €70,000-100,000


    The Bacri collection contains some magnificent tapestry models, mostly from the 15th and 16th centuries, woven in the major production centres of the southern Netherlands, when the Dukes of Burgundy governed Artois, Flanders and Brabant. One of these shows an impressive battle scene with knights fighting it out among a horde of foot soldiers, while another, halfway between a scene of courtly love and allegorical representation, features three elegantly clothed figures on a ravishing mille-fleurs background.

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    A French, Burgundian, circa 1480 alabaster figure of the Virgin of a Calvary. Estimate €30,000-50,000


    With sculpture, an alabaster Madonna of the Calvary, c. 1480, was certainly placed at the foot of a Calvary scene to begin with, as a pendant to St John. It is a perfect example of the Burgundy style during the period of Jean de la Huerta (1413-1462) and Antoine le Moiturier (1425-1497): the meditative position, the treatment of the face and the folds in the heavy drapery she wears are also found in various Pietàs now in the Dijon Musée des Beaux-Arts.

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    A marble Esculapios torso, Roma, circa 2nd century AD. Estimate €50,000-80,000


    Bacri's eclectic taste can also be seen in works from antiquity, like this marble torso of Aesculapius, 2nd century AD: a reduced Roman copy of a Greek statue of the 4th century BC (estimate: €50,000-80,000), and a collection of Ottoman ceramics from the celebrated Iznik group, dating from the first half of the 16th century to the 17th century.

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    A Roman marble head of a woman, circa second half of the 1st century AD. Estimate €20,000-30,000. A Roman marble head of a bearded man, circa 1st century AD. Estimate €3,000-5,000. 18th century French school, Hubert Robert follower, landscape, black pencil. Estimate €1,000-1,500


    The Bacri collection reflects both the individual taste of the private collector and the professional competence of the antique dealer. Their impeccable taste translates into a precious ensemble of various provenances and periods.

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