First Look: Master Paintings Spring Sale

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This year’s Spring auction of Master Paintings in New York is led by a strong group of 18th century Italian vedute, including views of Venice, Florence, Messina and Rome, and featuring paintings by the great masters Canaletto, Michele Marieschi, and Francesco Guardi, amongst others. The sale also includes an interesting and varied selection of 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings from private collections, including a number of works from the family of the distinguished New York collector Emile Wolf. Click ahead for a look at some of the auction’s highlights.

Master Paintings 
8 June | New York

First Look: Master Paintings Spring Sale

  • Salomon van Ruysdael, Winter landscape with figures skating and sleigh-riding outside a town. Estimate $800,000–$1,200,000.
    Ruysdael’s winter landscapes are some of his most beautiful and evocative works, and relatively rare in his oeuvre.  He painted three in 1627, at the beginning of his career, and would not return to the subject again until after 1650.  From the last two decades of his life, about twenty winter landscapes are known, including a number of impressive compositions incorporating townscapes, such as the present work.

  • Giovanni Antonio Canal, Canaletto, Venice, a view of the equestrian monument to Bartolomeo Colleoni and the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. Estimate $600,000–$800,000.
    Canaletto painted this charming view shortly after his return to Venice following a highly successful sojourn in England. The painting's provenance can be traced back to 1790, identifiable as the “S. Giov. e Paolo – Canaletto,” alluded to in correspondence between the renowned Venetian art dealer, Giammaria Sasso and John Strange, a British resident in Venice. Sasso sold this Canaletto view, along with numerous other paintings, to the British aristocrat Sir Abraham Hume for his collection at Ashbridge Park. 

  • Francesco Guardi, Venice, a view of the Piazzetta with the Palazzo Ducale, oil on canvas. Estimate $500,000–$700,000.
    Francesco Guardi’s View of the Piazzetta looking south with the Palazzo Ducale was first published in 1973 by Antonio Morassi, who dated it between 1755 and 1760. Guardi chose to depict the bustling Piazzetta from the Campanile di San Marco, looking out at the Bacino di San Marco toward the Isola di San Giorgio. From this viewpoint he was able to take in the iconic façade of the Palazzo Ducale while incorporating the southern-most arch of the Basilica di San Marco at left and the columns of San Marco and San Teodoro to the right. 

  • Gaspar van Wittel, called Vanvitelli, Messina, a panoramic view of the city towards the sea from the Colle del Tirone. Estimate $500,000–$700,000.
    This splendid and rare view of the Sicilian city of Messina, painted by Vanvitelli between 1710 and 1720, serves as an historical document which maps out the city before the destruction wrought by the earthquakes of 1783 and 1908. Of the seven known views of Messina by Vanvitelli, the present work is the most impressive, both for its quality and in its subtle use of light, as the shade of the foreground makes way to the warm glow of the city and the glistening sea in the distance.

  • Michele Marieschi, Venice, a view of the Grand Canal with Ca' Pesaro and Palazzo Foscarini-Giovanelli. Estimate $400,000–$600,000.
    Unpublished prior to its sale in 2008, when its attribution was endorsed by Ralph Toledano and Dario Succi, this serene depiction of the Grand Canal by Michele Marieschi has since been included in Succi’s 2016 monograph on the artist Succi dates the painting to 1738 and attributes the lively figures to the battle-painter Francesco Simonini, with whom Marieschi frequently collaborated. For this painting Marieschi revisited the same view as that formerly in the collection of Henry Howard, 4th Earl of Carlisle, and now in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

  • Melchior d'Hondecoeter, A peacock and pea hen with a crane, chickens and other birds in a landscape. Estimate $300,000–$500,000.
    This splendid painting demonstrates Hondecoeter’s remarkable skill as a painter of birds, for which he was justly famed in his own time.  The popularity of his work endured and in the 19th century he was known as the “Raphael of birds.”  This work depicts an assortment of exotic birds and fowl in a vast park-like setting.



    The composition is dominated by a male peacock whose magnificent tail cascades diagonally down into the foreground.  Also included are a pea hen, a black crowned crane, chickens, a waxwing, a pelican and several other species.  The compositional format of this painting—with the foreground occupied by an array of meticulously observed birds, a stone wall in the middle ground blocking one side, and the other side opening up to a distant vista —was a favorite of Hondecoeter’s.  

  • Sebastiano Ricci, Venus in the Forge of Vulcan, oil on canvas. Estimate $300,000–$500,000.
    This impressive large-scale canvas by Sebastiano Ricci is almost certainly identifiable as the painting once belonging to the celebrated architects, Robert and James Adam. The painting was first published in 2006 by Annalisa Scarpa who believed it to depict Thetis in the Forge of Vulcan, an episode from Homer’s Iliad in which the goddess requests armor for her son, Achilles, for his battle against the Trojan hero, Hector. The prominence of Cupid in the dynamic composition, however, suggests it is more likely to represent “Venus going to Vulcan for the Arms of Aeneas,” as it is listed in the 1765 catalogue of the Adam property.


  • Govert Flinck, 'Tronie' of an old man, possibly a Jewish scholar, oil on panel. Estimate $250,000–$350,000.
    Govert Flinck was a pupil of Rembrandt from 1633 until 1636, when he set up as an independent master and his first dated works appear, although he probably continued to work for Rembrandt's father-in-law Hendrick Uylenburgh for another eight years. Like many of Rembrandt's best pupils from his early Amsterdam phase such as Ferdinand Bol and Jacob Backer, Flinck evolved a style that is distinctive and personal, but until at least the end of the 1640s remains palpably Rembrandtesque. 

  • Joos De Momper and Jan Breughel The Younger, Mountain Landscape with Woodcutters. Estimate $200,000–$300,000.
    Joos de Momper was famed for his depiction of mountain landscapes, drawing on the tradition of the panoramic “world landscapes” developed by such earlier painters as Joachim Patinir and Herri Met de Bles. He was so closely associated with this type of landscape that he was given the moniker “pictor montium” (painter of mountains) on his portrait in the Iconography, a series of portrait prints based on designs by Anthony van Dyck. This beautiful example has been dated by Klaus Ertz to De Momper’s mature period, in the early 1620s.

  • Jacob van Hulsdonck, An elaborate basket of flowers and a tazza with grapes, on a table top. Estimate $200,00–$300,000.
    This beautiful still life by Jacob van Hulsdonck is unique in the artist’s oeuvre. Known for his fruit still lifes, sometimes paired with a small vase of flowers, his lavish food displays, and his rare pure floral still lifes, this is the only known composition by him depicting a basket of flowers as the central motif, here combined with a tazza of grapes.

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