Victoria Beckham's Favourite Old Master Paintings

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Fashion Designer Victoria Beckham chose a selection of her favourite Old Masters from Sotheby's upcoming sales: Old Masters Evening sale on 4 July and Old Masters Day sale on 5 July. The works will be exhibited at her Dover Street store from 22 to 27 June. She told Vogue:"It has been an absolute pleasure selecting the pieces and learning more about Old Masters while doing so.” Click ahead to view her selections.

Old Masters Evening Sale
04 July | London
Old Masters Day Sale
05 July | London

Victoria Beckham's Favourite Old Master Paintings

  • Netherlandish or South German School, Late 15th Century, Portrait of Mary of Burgundy (1458-1482) .
    Estimate £1,000,000–1,500,000.
    Mary of Burgundy was quite simply the most famous woman of her time. A renowned beauty, she was the extraordinarily wealthy heiress to vast territories in northern Europe. Princes from nearby kingdoms fought for her hand, which was eventually won by young Archduke (later Emperor) Maximilian of Austria. They were famously happy and in love, but less than five years after their marriage Mary was killed in a hunting accident. Although the painter of this portrait remains unknown, it is likely that it and other similar portraits of Mary were commissioned by Maximilian of Austria with a dual purpose: to record the likeness of his beloved wife, whom he described as the most beautiful woman he had ever seen; and to remind his subjects of his right to rule the lands inherited from Mary, whose image he disseminated far and wide.

    Old Masters Evening Sale
    04 July | London
  • Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of a man with a spotted fur collar.
    Estimate £1,500,000–2,000,000.
    This is a rare early portrait by Lucas Cranach, a leading German painter of the sixteenth century. It is thought to have been painted while Cranach was travelling in the Netherlands, around 1508. Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, sent Cranach from his home town of Wittenberg to the Netherlands (‘the land of painters’), in order to show off the brilliance of his own court painter. Certainly this characterful and commanding portrait, with its rich blue background and bravura brushwork used to render the spotted fur collar, makes a bold impact that must have impressed Cranach’s hosts in the Low Countries.

    Old Masters Evening Sale
    04 July | London
  • Circle of Leonardo Da Vinci Portrait of a lady in profile.
    Estimate £200,000–300,000.
    Neither the identity of the artist nor the sitter is known, but she is undoubtedly a courtly woman of some style. The fluttering ribbons, the shape of the bodice, the large ruby brooch worn on the side of her head are all important indications of her status. Her hair is dressed with a coif, a close-fitting cap, half covering the head and secured with a lenza or cord. Her long laced plait is contained in a plait-case called a trinzale. Introduced from Spain, via Naples, by Isabella d’Aragon, this style flourished in Milan in the 1490s and became fashionable throughout Lombardy in the final decade of the fifteenth century and into the early years of the sixteenth. The strict profile format was favoured for court portraits of the Sforza, Milan’s ruling family, and is evocative of Renaissance coins and medals.

    Old Masters Evening Sale
    04 July | London
  • Bernardino de' Conti, Portrait of a lady from the Trivulzio family.
    Estimate £30,000–40,000.
    Bernardino de’ Conti was one of the leading portrait painters in Milan at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries, and numbered many of the city’s most prominent families among his patrons. This painting is one of a group of portraits associated with Bernardino that show sitters at three-quarter length against distinctive striped backgrounds, some of which have been associated with the noble Milanese family of Trivulzio, although the exact identity of this lady is no longer known. Unlike medieval fashions in which women most often covered their hair entirely, Renaissance styles allowed for the hair to be seen. In this portrait the sitter’s hair is only partially covered with an elaborately knotted hairnet made of a pale silken cord.

    Old Masters Day Sale
    05 July | London
  • Attributed to Albrecht Dürer, Portrait of a man against a green background.
    Estimate £300,000–400,000.
    This lifelike, honest portrait is tentatively attributed to one of art history’s most celebrated masters, Albrecht Dürer. The unknown sitter is depicted in forensic detail, with distinct characterisation. The painting is on vellum – parchment made from calf skin – laid onto a walnut panel. Over the years the painted surface has become more translucent, which allows us to see the wonderfully assured and freely executed underdrawing, as well as areas where the artist deviated from his design when he came to apply the paint. See for example, the shift in the position of the man’s mole and the adjustment to the line of the forehead.

    Old Masters Evening Sale
    04 July | London
  • Northern Netherlandish School, Early 16th Century, Double portrait.
    Estimate £10,000–15,000.
    The author of this characterful double portrait is unknown, but the painting is likely to have been executed in the northern Netherlands by an artist accustomed to serving the newly wealthy mercantile class by producing their portraits. Likenesses at this time were often found on the wings of religious triptychs or on the margins of biblical scenes in the form of the figures of the patrons who had commissioned the works. This painting, by contrast, clearly depicts the couple for their own sake, a tendency that developed over the next century as portraiture became a genre that was no longer the sole preserve of the aristocracy.

    Old Masters Day Sale
    05 July | London
  • Circle of Robert Peake, Portrait of a lady, three-quarter length, wearing an embroidered waistcoat with lace collar and cuffs.
    Estimate £40,000–60,000.
    The sitter wears an impressive necklace formed of spherical and egg-shaped links, perhaps made from crystal. Those that are egg-shaped were sometimes hollow, designed to contain pomanders or aromatic substances to scent foul air and protect against infections. The lady also wears black jet bead bracelets to emphasise the desirable whiteness of her skin. Her embroidered waistcoat is depicted accurately with triangular gores around the waistline. In her skirt a large repeating pattern of red foliage is visible beneath a very fine layer of linen or silk.

    Old Masters Day Sale
    05 July | London
  • Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Portrait of a Venetian nobleman.
    Estimate £3,000,000–4,000,000.
    Peter Paul Rubens, the most influential Flemish baroque artist of his time, painted this vivid and enigmatic portrait after extensive travels in Italy. In Venice Rubens became fascinated by the works of Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese, and indeed he almost certainly based this depiction of a forceful Italian nobleman on a Venetian prototype, quite probably by Tintoretto. Nevertheless the resulting portrait is the product of Rubens’ own immensely creative imagination. Rapidly executed and supremely confident, this study is more sketch than formal portrait and is itself a superb expression of Rubens’ artistic personality. Rubens himself must have been much taken with the portrait, as it is likely to have remained in his own private collection until his death in 1640.

    Old Masters Evening Sale
    04 July | London
  • Attributed to William Larkin, Portrait of a lady, half-length, wearing an elaborately embroidered waistcoat with red and yellow ribbons, lace collar and lace cap, holding a prayer book.
    Estimate £40,000–60,000.
    This richly adorned lady wears black jet bead earrings, collar and cuffs trimmed with punto in aria lace, decorated with elaborate motifs of birds, flowers and crowns, interspersed with silhouettes of dancing figures. This style of collar was particularly fashionable around 1612, which helps date this elegant portrait. The sitter’s distinctive sleeved waistcoat is embellished with flowers and strawberries, their colours picked up by the red and yellow ribbons that fasten it at the front. Over this the lady wears a gown with blackwork embroidery and scalloped edges, trimmed with spangles – an early form of sequins, which were cut from sheets of gold or silver-gilt, often punched through off-centre so they would hang at angles and catch the light.

    Old Masters Day Sale
    05 July | London
  • Ferdinand Bol, Self-portrait.
    Estimate £300,000–500,000.
    Ferdinand Bol, who was among the most talented artists to work in Amsterdam with Rembrandt, painted this self-portrait leaning on a stone balustrade in about 1647. Inspired by Rembrandt’s painted and etched self-portraits, this work pays homage to his master’s celebrated image of 1640 (National Gallery, London), which in turn draws its inspiration from Titian. While Bol looked to the self-portraits of his teacher as his starting point, he has given the composition its own distinctive character. Bol was arguably at his most original in the genre of portraiture and an imaginative interpreter of his own self-image. Here Bol places himself in the pictorial tradition of the elegant gentleman–artist of elevated status. This painting is one of the last of Bol’s self-portraits in private hands.

    Old Masters Evening Sale
    04 July | London
  • Sir Henry Raeburn, Portrait of a boy in a striped waistcoat.
    Estimate £40,000–60,000.
    Sir Henry Raeburn was Scotland’s leading portrait painter in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The demand for his work was so great that he barely left Edinburgh, save for a trip to Rome in the mid-1780s after a stay of only two months in London, when he is believed to have met one of England’s greatest portraitists of the time, Sir Joshua Reynolds. Raeburn executed his paintings from direct observation of the sitter without preparatory drawings, resulting in remarkably fresh, spontaneous and seemingly effortless likenesses, which clearly found favour amongst his clients.

    Old Masters Day Sale
    05 July | London
  • Sir Peter Lely, Lady Penelope Nicholas (1640–1703), seated three-quarter length, wearing a gold dress and holding an orange.
    Estimate £30,000–50,000.
    This elegant portrait of Lady Penelope Nicholas was probably completed around 1662, together with the portrait of her husband Sir John Nicholas, now hanging in the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery. Lady Penelope was the daughter of Spencer, 2nd Earl of Northampton, a heroic Royalist commander during the Civil War, who was killed in battle in 1643 when Lady Penelope was only a small child. Her husband, Sir John, was the son of Sir Edward Nicholas, Secretary of State to two Kings, Charles I and Charles II. Lady Penelope is depicted here holding an orange in one hand and in the other, close to her chest, a sprig of the fruit’s blossom. Associated with marriage since antiquity, orange blossom symbolized purity, chastity, innocence and fertility.

    Old Masters Day Sale
    05 July | London
  • Sir Peter Lely, Double portrait of Henry Hyde, Viscount Cornbury, later 2nd Earl of Clarendon (1688–1709) and his wife, Theodosia Capel, Viscountess Cornbury.
    Estimate £600,000–800,000.
    This magnificent double portrait was painted by Lely in 1661 to celebrate the marriage of Henry Hyde, Viscount Cornbury and Theodosia Capel. It is one of the most sophisticated Baroque double portraits ever painted in England and among the finest works by Lely to remain in private hands. Viscount Cornbury, later 2nd Earl of Clarendon, was the eldest son of the 1st Earl of Clarendon, one of Lely’s most important patrons. Indeed Clarendon is thought to have been responsible for Lely’s appointment as court painter to King Charles II upon his restoration to the English throne, a role to which Lely was appointed in the very same year that this portrait was painted. Theodosia died of smallpox only fourteen months after her marriage, just after giving birth to her son Edward, later the 3rd Earl of Clarendon.

    Old Masters Evening Sale
    04 July | London
  • Joseph Wright of Derby, Portrait of Charles Hurt of Wirksworth (1758–1834).
    Estimate £1,000,000–1,500,000.
    This portrait of Charles Hurt, and that of his wife Susannah and daughter Mary Anne, have been in the possession of his family and descendants ever since Joseph Wright of Derby painted them around 1787­­–90. Charles owned a lead-smelting business at Wirksworth, in the Derbyshire Dales, and was a successful mining engineer. He and Joseph Wright were part of a close circle of acquaintances in Derbyshire society, members of the commercial and intellectual elite of the Midlands, who were the driving force behind the Industrial Revolution. Charles was typical of Enlightenment industrialists in that his intellectual pursuits were many and varied; he was a keen astronomer and mathematician, as well as an avid book collector.

    Old Masters Evening Sale
    04 July | London
  • Joseph Wright of Derby, Portrait of Susannah Arkwright, Mrs Charles Hurt (1762–1835) and her daughter Mary Anne.
    Estimate £1,500,000–2,000,000.
    Susannah was born in Bolton on 21 December 1761, the daughter of Sir Richard Arkwright, widely credited as the ‘father of the Industrial Revolution’ and his second wife Margaret Biggins. Susannah’s parents separated when Arkwright was struggling to perfect the machinery that would later make his fortune. Sir Richard took charge of Susannah’s education, sending her to study at Mrs Latuffiere’s school in Derby and ensuring that she mixed with all the leading families in the area. Susannah married Charles Hurt in 1780, at the age of eighteen. Their marriage joined together two of the most influential families in southern Derbyshire. The county’s green dales are depicted by Wright in the rolling landscapes painted as backgrounds to the couple’s portraits. Susannah had eleven children and is depicted here with Mary Anne, one of her youngest daughters.

    Old Masters Evening Sale
    04 July | London
  • Joseph Wright of Derby, Portrait of the artist, wearing a red fur-collared coat and turban.
    Estimate £60,000–80,000.
    Recently rediscovered, this handsome and enigmatic portrait depicts the great avant-garde painter of mid-eighteenth century English art, Joseph Wright of Derby. Painted in the late 1760s, when Wright was at the forefront of a young and ambitious group of artists making their name on the London art scene, it is very likely a self-portrait by the artist himself. In the late 1760s and early 1770s, following the contemporary vogue for Hungarian style ‘hussar’ costume, Wright painted and drew several self-portraits in romantic attire such as this.

    Old Masters Day Sale
    05 July | London
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