First Look: Discover 12 Master Paintings

Launch Slideshow

The upcoming Master Paintings Evening Sale at Sotheby’s includes several exciting rediscoveries. Notable among these are a previously unpublished Jan Brueghel landscape, a long-hidden portrait of the Maggiordomo to Pope Innocent by Velázquez, an early Nicolas Lancret masterpiece that was last seen in 1889, and a charming likeness of a young prince by Anthony van Dyck. Other important paintings on offer include stunning large-scale works by Titian and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, a sensuous Lucretia by Lucas Cranach the Elder, and a pair of Renaissance still lifes by pioneering woman artist Fede Galizia. Click ahead for these highlights and more.  

Master Paintings Evening Sale
1 February | New York

First Look: Discover 12 Master Paintings

  • Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian, and Workshop, Saint Margaret. Estimate $2,000,000–3,000,000.
    This monumental and visually arresting painting, once in the famed collection of Charles I along with other works by Titian, depicts the heroic Saint Margaret as she emerges unscathed from the body of a dragon. It is considered by most scholars to have been painted in the mid-1560s, and is one of two versions of the subject signed by Titian, the other being in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. In its spirited execution, enlivened by rapid brushstrokes and the dramatic contrasts of light against dark, the painting embodies every quality of the artist's late style.

  • Jan Brueghel the Elder, A Wooded River Landscape with a Landing Stage, Boats, Various Figures and a Village Beyond, 1614. Estimate $2,500,000–3,500,000.
    Signed and dated 1614, this exquisite river landscape on copper is one of the finest works by Jan Brueghel the Elder left in private hands. Unpublished until now, it is also one of the most important rediscoveries to be added to the artist's oeuvre in recent years. Brueghel opens a window onto life in an early-17th-century Flemish village on a clear, crisp summer’s day. The painting’s vibrant colours, intact glazes and thick impasto are evidence of its remarkable condition, and a meticulous attention to detail coupled with a lightness of touch and unwavering confidence further contributes to the captivating jewel-like effect so prized in works by this major Flemish master. 

  • Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez and Pietro Martire Neri, Portrait of Monsignor Cristoforo Segni (D. 1661), Maggiordomo to Pope Innocent X, Circa 1650. Estimate $3,000,000–4,000,000.
    This striking depiction of the Maggiordomo to Pope Innocent X was painted by Velázquez during the artist’s second trip to Rome, around 1650. The portrait belongs to a small group of likenesses of sitters drawn from the ranks of the papal court that no doubt followed from the success of Velázquez’s portrait of Pope Innocent X himself. The present work has only recently emerged from obscurity for inclusion in an exhibition dedicated to Velázquez at the Grand Palais, Paris, having remained hidden in the present collection since the mid-20th century.  


  • Lucas Cranach the Elder, Lucretia, Circa 1510–13. Estimate $2,000,000–3,000,000.
    One of the earliest known treatments of the classical subject of Lucretia by Lucas Cranach the Elder, the work was painted during the early years following the artist’s arrival in Wittenberg in 1504 to work in the employ of the Electors of Saxony. Of all the known depictions of Lucretia by Cranach and his circle, this is perhaps the most sensual and beautiful and it is a supreme example of the type of erotic historical painting produced for the artist’s private patrons, ironically right in the geographic and ideological heart of the Reformation, in the very court where Cranach’s great friend Martin Luther enjoyed the protection of the Electors of Saxony.

  • Fede Galizia, A Still Life of a Porcelain Bowl of Grapes on a Stone Ledge with a Medlar, Quinces, a Pomegranate and a Wasp; A Still Life of a Porcelain Basket of Plums and Grapes on a Stone Ledge with Pears. Estimate $2,000,000–3,000,000.
    These exquisite still lifes are the work of pioneering female painter Fede Galizia, an artist who played a fundamental role in the emergence of the genre in Italy and Europe in the first quarter of the 17th century. Galizia trained under her father, the miniaturist Nunzio Galizia, and her precocious talent was already on full display as a young teenager. By age 20, she had achieved international renown for her portraits and devotional compositions, yet it is her remarkable still lifes that established her lasting reputation and are considered her most important works today. Never overfilled or cluttered and always imbued with a degree of naturalism, Galizia’s compositions impart quiet yet indelible impressions. 

  • Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto, Venice, the Churches of the Redentore and San Giacomo; Venice, the Prisons and the Bridge of Sighs, Looking Northwest from the Balcony. Estimate $3,000,000–4,000,000.
    In nearly pristine condition, this impressive pair of canvases demonstrates Canaletto’s inimitable success in capturing the imposing elegance of the architecture that defined 18th-century Venice. Rendered with the artist’s customary attention to detail, these waterfront views depict two of the most recognizable facades in La Serenissima: the Church of the Redentore and the Prisons of San Marco. Set beneath blue skies, bathed with a crisp atmosphere, and animated with fashionable figures, as well as gondolas and sandalos that glide gently atop the water, the pair can be ranked among Canaletto’s most admired masterpieces and is an enduring example of why he has long remained the undisputed leader of the genre of Venetian view painting.

  • Prague School, An Exotic Dog, the Mexican Xoloitzcuintli, from Two Angles, with an Ornate Collar and in an Extensive Landscape, Circa 1580–1600. Estimate $250,000–350,000.
    This intriguing painting of the Mexican Xoloitzcuintli (or Xolo) is truly one of a kind. It was likely painted by an artist active in Prague towards the end of the 16th century and speaks to the European fascination with curiosities arriving from the New World. While such interest was widespread, nowhere was the passion for acquiring rare animals as insatiable as in the Habsburg Courts, particularly that of Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. Although definitive proof has not yet been uncovered, documents and correspondence do record that a dog of this breed was sent from Iberia to Rudolf II in the 1580s. It may appear that there are two dogs in the painting, but the distinct markings, comparable sizes, and identical collars suggest it is the same canine from different angles. Indeed, the varying viewpoints would allow for a detailed rendering of an exotic breed of dog that was entirely new to European eyes.

  • Jan Wijnants and Adriaen van de Velde, Wooded Evening Landscape with a Hunter and His Dogs, Another Hunter on Horseback Conversing with a Peasant, a Fishermen and a Falconer Carrying a Hoop of Falcons on a Path, a Wagon and Other Figures by a Lake Beyond. Estimate $2,000,000–3,000,000.
    This splendid panorama is by Jan Wijnants, one of the most important Dutch landscape painters of the second half of the 17th century. Throughout his career, Wijnants drew inspiration from the dunes near Haarlem, where he was born, and where he was influenced by landscape master Jacob van Ruisdael.

  • Nicolas Lancret, Winter, 1719–21. Estimate $1,500,000–2,000,000.
    This early masterpiece by Nicolas Lancret was last seen in public in 1889; the reappearance of Winter is one of the most exciting and important discoveries of the artist's oeuvre in recent history. Set in a stately Régence interior, the composition depicts the everyday pleasures of upper-class society in early 18th-century France. A group of figures gathers in a refined drawing room to play cards; a fire lit in the background and fur-lined overgowns worn by the elegant ladies identify the season. Lancret’s masterful allegory of winter is part of a cycle of Four Seasons, a series commissioned by a French diplomat at a momentous point in Lancret’s career that undoubtedly helped established the young artist’s reputation.

  • Sir Anthony van Dyck, Portrait of Prince Willem II of Orange as a Young Boy, With A Dog. Estimate $2,000,000–3,000,000.
    Although they make up only a fraction of his considerable and varied artistic output, Van Dyck’s depictions of children are among the artist’s most memorable and enchanting works. This delightful portrait of Prince Willem II of Orange exemplifies the genre, depicting the young royal at about 5 years of age, wearing a long gown of orange silk (the colour of his princely house) with slashed sleeves, decorated with lace collar and cuffs. This fascinating painting’s recent reappearance, followed by a careful cleaning and subsequent public exhibition at the Rubenshuis Museum in Antwerp, has afforded scholars the opportunity to reassess it, confirming its status as an important work by the master, which in all likelihood is the hitherto lost painting documented as made by van Dyck for King Charles I of England.

  • Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The Presentation of the Virgin. Estimate $1,000,000–1,500,000.
    An extremely rare subject for Murillo, The Presentation of the Virgin serves as testimony to the richness of the painter’s late period, both in terms of the inventiveness of his compositions and as a colourist. The sensitive depiction of the little Virgin demonstrates Murillo’s extraordinary abilities as a painter of children, while the presence of a beggar in the foreground recalls his poignant images of the destitute. The spatial arrangement of different levels, each thrown into light from different sources, is complex. The monumental scale of the canvas allows us to follow the narrative from the beggar who fixes us with his gaze, to the figures of Saint Anne and Joachim who urge their little daughter up the great stone steps of the temple, and into the open arms of the waiting High Priest.

  • Attributed to Bartholomäus Zeitblom, Double Portrait of an Engaged Couple. Estimate $600,000–800,000.
    Three hundred years before Zeitblom painted this serene image of courtly romance, his fellow countryman Gottfried von Strassburg wrote the story of Tristan and Isolde in which the two lovers are described as follows: “They were so joined in love that each was clearer than a looking-glass to the other. They had one heart between them.” Sight was traditionally the most noble and spiritual sense, and such ocular metaphors were particularly suited for the refined sentiments of conjugal or courtly love. The mutual gaze of this young betrothed couple speaks clearly to the venerable poetic tradition that described the eyes as the windows or pathways by which hearts and souls mingled. Here the two lovers are depicted in separate special planes, divided by a wall and window depicted with a primitive naturalism. 

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