Our Specialists’ Favorite Old Master Paintings on Offer This Spring in New York

22 May 2019, 02:00 PM EDT | New York
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This spring’s sale of Old Master Paintings features an exceptional array of works from schools throughout Europe, spanning the 13th to the 19th century. To celebrate, we asked department specialists to select their favorite piece, and tell us exactly why it stands apart.

The Master Paintings Live Auction will take place on 22 May, 2019 starting at 2:00 PM EDT. Auction registration is now open.

Our Specialists’ Favorite Old Master Paintings on Offer This Spring in New York

  • Master of the Magdalen, St. Margaret, the Madonna and Child, and the Crucifixion with Mourning Saints, circa 1280-85. Estimate $300,000 – 500,000.
    There is something particularly fascinating about paintings that are created just on the eve of an artistic revolution, as was this dossal panel of the Madonna and Child with Saint Margaret and the Crucifixion . At the time of its creation, the stage was set for the innovations of Cimabue, and the still-anonymous Master displays the narrative freedom that anticipates what is to come. Three different stories harmoniously inhabit the same space, although all in different scale. Saint Margaret, at far left, is dressed as a Byzantine princess (when that still meant something) and raises a hand to bless the viewer. At far right is the Crucifixion with the group of three Marys, depicted with particular pathos. Finally, left of center is the Madonna and Child, larger and thus visually closer to us. Dating to circa 1280-85, this is about as early a painting as we get to see at Sotheby’s, and its potency as an image and work of art move me.

    Christopher Apostle
    Senior Vice President, Head of Department | Old Master Paintings
  • Central Italian School, Portrait of a Bearded Man in a White Shirt, Black Doublet and Black Cap, Bust-length, circa 1510. Estimate $60,000 – 80,000.
    Every once in a while a marvelous little picture appears at our door, and although the quality of it is extremely high and you can come very close to identifying the date, the artist’s name proves elusive. This painting is such a picture. It was clearly painted in the circle of Raphael circa 1510, and one expert has even suggested that it is a portrait of Marcantonio Raimondi, but we have been unable to conclusively establish who the painting is by and who it depicts. Having said that, it is a sublime picture that I would love nothing more than to bring home with me and hang on my wall, as Renaissance pictures of this kind are hard to find.

    George Wachter
    Chairman, Executive Vice President | Old Master Paintings
    Co-Chairman | Old Master Paintings Worldwide
  • Attributed to Frans Van Mieris the Elder, Man Smoking a Pipe, Half-length, circa 1664 or 1667. Estimate $20,000 – 30,000.
    I have a deep love for the Leiden school of the Dutch Golden Age. Van Mieris was among its leaders, and this painting has a technical specificity which beautifully encapsulates the entire movement. The sitter, who attempts a nonchalant smokers pose, is actually quite intense in his outward gaze. I love that. There has been some debate about the attribution, which is what makes Old Masters so exciting. There is still room for discovery. It is tantalizingly close to van Mieris himself, and whoever takes this home will have a striking little picture.

    David Pollack
    Senior Vice President, Specialist | Old Master Paintings
  • Jean-François Bony, Portrait of Mademoiselle Albert, Full-length, Seated in a Landscape Beside a Stone Vase and Baskets Filled with Flowers, 1817. Estimate $80,000 – 120,000.
    This painting by Bony is my unequivocal favorite from this sale, mostly because its detailed allusions to spring helped me survive the seemingly eternal winter. The lush depiction of blossoming roses and white lilies, combined with the color of the soft blue sky and design of the sitter’s luminous silk dress, transports me to warmer days. This painting captivates me so often in the winter months that it makes me forget, however briefly, of the cold weather outside.

    Alexa Armstrong
    Associate Specialist | Old Master Paintings
  • Ferdinand Bol, Portrait of a Gentleman, Facing Right, in Front of a Red Curtain, with a Landscape Beyond, 1661. Estimate $30,000 – 50,000.
    This mature and arresting portrait by Ferdinand Bol, one of Rembrandt’s most important and accomplished students, is among my favorite works in our forthcoming sale. There is something rather familiar about the handsome gentleman portrayed. Perhaps it’s his engaging and pleasing countenance; perhaps it’s his confident yet approachable pose; or, perhaps it’s his individual facial features, softly modeled to highlight his heavy-lidded eyes, golden hair, and distinct nose. Certainly, though, this air of familiarity is a credit to Bol’s remarkable skills in rendering likenesses of individual sitters that secured him as one of the most sought-after portrait painters of the Dutch Golden Age.

    Elisabeth Lobkowicz
    Assistant Vice President, Specialist | Old Master Paintings
  • Philippe Jacques De Loutherbourg, R.A., Landscape with a Herd of Cattle, a Castle on a Hill Beyond, Known as "Morning after the Rain", 1765. Estimate $80,000 – 120,000.
    My choice, as usual, was not governed by the subject matter. I chose this painting for the same reason I bought most of my inventory as a dealer: because it is in fantastic condition. The superb condition of this picture allows one to fully appreciate why it was entitled “Morning after the Rain” by this remarkably gifted, twenty-five-year-old painter. The artist’s skill and technique make a seemingly simple landscape all the more attractive.

    Otto Naumann
    Senior Vice President, Director of Client Development | Old Master Paintings
  • Leiden School, Christ at Golgotha, circa 1530. Estimate $100,000 – 150,000.
    I am drawn to this painting because the anonymous artist from Leiden combined multiple scenes from the Passion of Christ into one , which encourages the viewer to seek out the events in order and relive the story. The underdrawing, visible with infrared reflectography, shows that the artist tried out different positions for a few figures and considered including additional weapons – it is always interesting to see the artist’s process of invention unfold.

    Molly Harrington
    Senior Researcher | Old Master Paintings
  • Ippolito Caffi, View of the Coliseum from the Interior, Ground Level, 1838. Estimate $100,000 – 150,000.
    Caffi was undoubtedly the painter who best depicted the effects of light in the first of the nineteenth century and his portrayals of Italy, Egypt and the Levant resonate today as much as they did when they were painted. This delightful view of the interior of the Coliseum captures the glory of one of Rome's most iconic buildings. Rather than hinting at a nostalgia for the city's glorious past, it celebrates both the enduring beauty of that warm light which is so characteristic of Rome, as well as the enduring beauty of the wonderful building – which is the highpoint of any visit to Rome, even to this day.

    Edoardo Roberti
    Senior Director, Senior Specialist | Old Master Paintings
  • Angelika Kauffmann, R.A., Portrait Of William Heberden The Younger, M.D. (1767-1845) As A Boy, Half Length, Seated Beside A Table, circa 1779. Estimate $80,000 – 120,000.
    I am struck by the immediacy of this charming portrait by Angelika Kauffmann. With light, soft brushwork and a restrained palette, she beautifully captures the tension between the innocence of a young boy and his serious sense of self, a foresight into the impressive doctor he would become.

    Calvine Harvey
    Vice President, Specialist | Old Master Paintings

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