Posts Tagged ‘European Art

30
Oct
12

Day 304: Señora Delicado de Imaz, by Vicente López y Portaña

López Portaña, Vicente Señora de Delicado Imaz

Day 304: Señora Delicado de Imaz, by Vicente López y Portaña

The portrait of Señora Delicado de Imaz by Vicente López y Portaña is arguably one of the most talked about works in the Portrait of Spain exhibition at the QAG. This is most likely due to the sheer visual dichotomy between the lady’s ostentatious finery and the lack of physical beauty (as far as the contemporary appreciation of this issue is concerned).

Indeed, Señora Delicado de Imaz wears a splendid fashionable gown of blue velvet, richly decorated with flounces of exquisitely delicate lace; her hair is arranged in an elaborately fashionable style culminating in the Apollo knot; sumptuous jewellery adorns the lady’s head, shoulders, and wrists. The fashionable opulence of this ‘woman of a certain age’ is paradoxically juxtaposed in the portrait to a rather masculine face; bushy eyebrows that almost meet in the middle, and the noticeably downy upper lip and chin.

According to the catalogue article, the portrait shows that López y Portaña, then at the height of his fame as an elite portrait specialist, was not a courtly or aristocratic toady, and did not shy away from the realistic portrayal of his august sitters, in keeping with the veristic tradition of his predecessors Velazquez and Goya.

I, however, am also tempted to consider this portrait of Señora Delicado de Imaz through the prism of an article by Susan Sidlauskas, “Not-beautiful: a counter-theme in the history of women’s portraiture” [in Shifrin, Susan (ed), Re-framing Representations of Women: Figuring, Fashioning, Portraiting, and Telling in the ‘Picturing’ Women Project, Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2008]. Her essay examines portraits of ‘ladies of a certain age’ by Ingres, and contrasts them against the idealised portraits of his younger female sitters. She argues that portraits like these were created at the time when ‘women of a certain age’ were no longer supposed to be objects of sexual desire; and therefore artists of the era, such as Ingres, López y Portaña, and others intentionally portrayed older women as lacking in physical allure.

http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/ / http://www.museodelprado.es/

http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/current/portrait_of_spain_masterpieces_from_the_prado

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

29
Oct
12

Day 303: Portrait of Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, by Juan Carreño de Miranda

Juan Carreno de Miranda - La Monstrua

Day 303: Portrait of Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, by Juan Carreño de Miranda

At first glance, the portrait by Juan Carreño de Miranda (Spain, 1614-85) looks like a Photoshop job gone wrong, for the width of the body is disproportionate to the height of the figure. However, it represents a real-life person, Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, an obese six-year-old girl. For all the corseting and cascading folds of the brocaded crimson dress richly embroidered with gold, it cannot disguise the child’s girth as it pulls and stretches to envelop the girl’s body.

The portrait reflects a fascination among the Spanish courtly and aristocratic circles in people with physical or mental anomalies. More often than not, they were taken from humble backgrounds, adopted by and given employment at court, dressed at the height of Spanish fashions, and painted by the best artists of the era such as Carreño de Miranda and Diego Velázquez, whose works are also present in the Portrait of Spain exhibition at the QAG.

However, as these portraits – as well as the portrait of the Infanta Isabella by Alonso Sánchez Coello discussed previously – show, the presence of these characters as well as exotic animals at court was employed partly as entertainment but also to offset by comparison the visual perfection of the ruling elite, thus maintaining the hierarchical elevation and aristocratic ‘otherness’ of their caste. This penchant was soon adopted throughout the European courts, where society ladies offset their beauty by appearing at court – as well as in their portraits – with pugs or monkeys, and had themselves followed by page boys and servant girls of other races.

http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/ / http://www.museodelprado.es/

http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/current/portrait_of_spain_masterpieces_from_the_prado

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

29
Jun
12

Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the ‘Other’ Demidov Portrait

842a 68 Demidova Meshcherskaia WinterhalterFriday, 29 June 2012

Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the ‘Other’ Demidov Portrait

Further patronage by the Demidov family is suggested by a portrait in the Museum of Fine Arts, Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The painting is known as a Portrait of a Lady, but it has also been suggested that this is a portrait of another woman from the Demidov family (illustrated on the left). In this entry, I would like to firmly establish the identity of this sitter and the date of the painting.

The research into the Demidov family history suggests that the woman in the portrait is no other than Princess Maria Elimovna Meshcherskaia [Княжна Мария Элимовна Мещерская] (1844-1868), who married in June 1867 Pavel Pavlovich Demidov, 2nd Prince di San Donato (1839-1885), son of the sitter discussed in the previous post (Avrova Karlovna Demidova-Karamzina, née Stjernvall, 1808-1902). Her identity is confirmed by contemporary photographs of Princess Maria just before her marriage, which show the same distinctive, almost Oriental beauty, elongated oval of the face, large soulful eyes, and the prominent nose (see the three images below).

Meshcherskaia-Demidova 04

Meshcherskaia-Demidova 03

Meshcherskaia-Demidova 01

Princess Maria Meshcherskaia is predominantly known today as the first love of Alexander III, Emperor of Russia when a Grand Duke and only third in line to the throne. However, upon the death of his older brother, Alexander stood to inherit the Russian Imperial Crown, and under the pressure from his parents, he gave up Princess Maria Meshcherskaia to marry a girl from his own caste, Princess Dagmar of Denmark, the future Empress Maria Feodrovna. Princess Meshcherskaia was ordered to leave St Petersburg, and while in Paris she met – and married shortly afterwards – Prince Paul Demidov, one of the most eligible bachelors and wealthiest Russian aristocrats.

But her newly found happiness in married life was not to last. Princess Maria died in August 1868 two days after giving birth to her only child, Elim Pavlovich Demidov, future 3rd Prince di San Donato (1868-1943).

842 68 Demidova WinterhalterWinterhalter’s portrait of the ill-fated Princess was most likely painted within a space of fourteen months, between June 1867 and August 1868. The existence of Winterhalter’s portrait of Princess Marie’s mother-in-law, Avrova Karlovna Demidova-Karamzina, which also dates from around c. 1868 (oil on canvas, 60.0 x 50.0 cm, Private Collection, FXW cat no 842, illustrated left), suggests a possibility that both portraits were commissioned from Winterhalter simultaneously, and there are numerous precedents in Winterhalter’s practice to paint various members of the same family within a short period of time, more often than not within a space of a few months. The date of the portrait can be further confirmed by its comparison with the recently-surfaced portrait of Sophie, Duchesse de Morny (née Princess Troubetzkaia; 1838-1896), also from c. 1868 (oil on canvas, present location unknown, no 846, illustrated lower right). Both portraits bear striking compositional similarities and show both sitters within an oval portrait format, standing at three-quarter-length, enveloped in a fur-edged wrap.

663 59 Troubetzkaia Winterhalter

846 68 Morny WinterhalterTherefore, both the date and the identity of the sitter can now be firmly established, as the portrait  of Princess Maria Elimovna Meshcherskaia, Princess Demidova di San Donato, of c. 1868 (FXW cat no 842a).

It is an interesting twist of fate, that the widower, Prince Paul Demidov, married secondly, three years later, in June 1871, Princess Elena Petrovna Troubetzkaia [Княжна Елена Петровна Трубецкая] (1853-1917), whose mother, Princess Elizaveta Esperovna Troubetzkaia (née Princess Beloselsaia-Belozerskaia; 1834-1907), was captured by Winterhalter in the famous, effervescent 1859 portrait (oil on canvas, 147.0 x 108.0 cm, Private Collection, FXW cat no 663, illustrated lower far right).

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012.


28
Jun
12

Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Demidov Portrait

842 68 Demidova WinterhalterThursday, 28 June 2012

Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Demidov Portrait

My research on Franz Xaver Winterhalter continues, and with this entry, I propose that one of his works, which was traditionally identified as a portrait of Princesse Mathilde Bonaparte, Princess Demidova di San-Donato (1820-1904), is in fact a portrait of Avrora Karlovna Demidova-Karamzina, née Stjernvall [Аврора Карловна Демидова-Карамзина, ур. Шернваль] (1808-1902).

BONAPARTE MATHILDE

The first inference that the Demidov family offered patronage to Franz Xaver Winterhalter is to be found in Franz Wild’s posthumous list of Winterhalter’s works, which includes a reference to a portrait of a woman from the Demidov family: Mme Demidoff 1868 (Wild 1894, 45). As with all references on Wild’s list, no further information is given.

BONAPARTE MATHILDE 02

The next indication of this patronage was a portrait of a lady at Sotheby’s Russian Paintings, Drawings, Watercolours and Sculpture auction in London, 5 March 1981, lot 40 (oil on canvas, oval, 60 x 50cm, sold USD $7,840). The portrait was unsigned and unprovenanced, yet it was described as a Portrait of Mathilde Bonaparte, daughter of Jerome Bonaparte, wife of Prince Anatole Demidoff [sic]. Sotheby’s supported this identification with a short précis of Princesse Mathilde’s biography.

BONAPARTE MATHILDE 03However, as my Winterhalter research was progressing, I began to question the identity of the sitter. Princesse Mathilde Bonaparte separated from Anatoly Demidov, Prince di San Donato (1813-70) in 1846; she was thence known by her maiden name and was commonly referred to by all her contemporaries as Princesse Mathilde. While Wild’s list is rife with spelling errors, the titles for most part are correct. It would have been unthinkable, therefore, that either Winterhalter as late as 1868 or his nephew as late as 1894 would have referred to the Princesse in their books as a mere Mme Demidoff.Unfortunately, I only have a black-and-white image of this portrait, so I would be most grateful if anyone in the ethersphere, who might possess a colour version of it, could forward it to me – this of course would be most dutifully and gratefully acknowledged! Nevertheless, even on the basis of the extant image, the portrait is readily attributable as an autograph Winterhalter from his later period.This identification was accepted by the editors of Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Courts of Europe 1830-70, who in their monumental exhibition catalogue linked the entry on Wild’s list with the portrait at Sotheby’s: “370. Mme Demidoff, 1868. Presumably Princesse Mathilde Bonaparte, Comtesse Demidoff. Head and shoulders, oval, 60 x 50, Private Collection.” (Winterhalter 1987-88, 235).

Demidova_s_synom_PavlomFurthermore, no chroniclers or biographers of Princesse Mathilde mention her sitting to Winterhalter, which corresponds with the alleged animosity between the Princesse and Eugénie, Empress of the French (1826-1920), who was among Winterhalter’s premier patrons; neither is the portrait reproduced in any publications, past or present, on the Princesse. Last but not least, even with Winterhalter’s well-known propensity for the admissible degree of flattery and idealisation, the lady in the portrait looks to be in her fifties or early sixties. Princesse Mathilde Bonaparte was in her late forties, and while every artist who painted her subjugated the Princesse’s visage to his own aesthetic ideal, the subtle mimetic differences are also apparent, especially in the shorter oval of the face and a more pronounced  jaw line.

DEMIDOVAAurora_StjernvallThese observations initiated a research into other Demidov women who were alive and in their fifties or sixties in the late 1860s. One of them stood out most prominently: Eva Aurora Charlotta Stjernvall (1808-1902), more commonly known under her Russian name as Avrora Karlovna Stjernvall [Аврора Карловна Шернваль], who married Pavel Nikolaevich Demidov [Демидов] (1798-1840), and upon becoming a widow, she married secondly Andrei Nikolaevich Karamzin [Карамзин] (1814-54). After her second widowhood, Avrora Karlovna continued to be commonly referred to by her first husband’s name. Through her first husband, who was Anatoly Demidov’s brother, she was Princesse Mathilde’s sister-in-law; and her son, Paul (1839-1885), inherited his uncle’s illustrious princely title. On the other hand, neither Avrora nor her late husband, Pavel Demidov, had a title of nobility. Therefore, both the portrait and the entry on Wild’s list correspond more accurately as a portrait of Avrora Karlovna as a simple Mme Demidoff; who was also turning  60 at the time the portrait was painted.

DEMIDOVA aurora_karamzin PERIGNONThe similarities between the woman in Winterhalter’s portrait and known portraits of Avrora Karlovna Demidova are striking, including a slightly elongated oval of the face, and a very characteristic hairstyle. Furthermore, Demidova appears in several of her portraits wearing a black lace head-dress, which corresponds with her widowed status (no portrait of Princesse Mathilde features a similar head ornament). Avrora’s portrait by Perignon (illustrated on the left) bears the most striking resemblance to Winterhalter’s portrait, including the details and outlines of the lace headdress and the way in which it descends to the shoulders. Demidova’s biographers report that in 1867 she was infected with smallpox, which disfigured her face. It is quite possible that by commissioning her portrait from Winterhalter at the time of her sixtieth birthday, Avrora Karlovna entrusted the artist to eradicate the ravages of illness and age, and attempted to arrest the time and preserve the modicum of her celebrated beauty.

842 68 Demidova WinterhalterWhile my research continues, and unless evidence surfaces to the contrary, I am altering the title of this work in my catalogue accordingly as a portrait of Avrora Karlovna Demidova-Karamzina (1808-1902), née Aurora Charlotta Stjernvall (see no 842).

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012.


21
Jun
12

In Search of the Picturesque @ Geelong Gallery

Geelong Art GalleryThursday, 21 June 2012

In Search of the Picturesque @ Geelong Gallery

My immediate university commitments are over for the time being, and a day trip to Geelong with a visit to the art gallery, followed by a luncheon at the Geelong Club afterwards, was a lovely impetus to re-start this blog. The focus of our visit was In Search of the Picturesque: Architectural Ruin in Art. As the title eponymously suggests, the exhibition focuses on images of ruins in European and Australian art from the seventeenth century to the present day. It is most omnisciently curated by Dr Colin Holden, who divided the exhibition into five sub-sections, each of which represents a differing aspect of artistic, literary, and philosophical discourse on the subject of ubiquitous ruins, from the remnants of classic civilisations of ancient Greece and Rome; ruined Gothic castles and abbeys in Germany and England; to some of the derelicts and crumbling structures from the more recent past.

Claude LorrainThe chronological and geographical breadth of the exhibition is quite exceptional, and the generous loans from public and private collections across Australia resulted in a very rich and pleasantly surprising collection, which serves as yet another reminder of the sheer cultural wealth contained within treasure troves of this nation. The National Gallery of Victoria lent a most enchanting landscape by Claude Lorrain (1804-82) of the Tiburtine Temple at Tivoli; while the Art Gallery of South Australia lent a large-scale masterpiece by the same artist, where quite a bit of artistic licence has been used to move a few ruins around in order to present the Forum and Coliseum side by side. There is a painstakingly detailed Bernardo Bellotto (1720-80) of the remnants of the Forum, also from the National Gallery’s collection; the crispness and visual clarity of the painting defy the belief that it was produced at least a century prior to the invention of photography. The British fascination with ruins at home and abroad, especially the ones encountered on the Grand Tour, is related across a rich selection of eighteenth- and nineteenth century watercolours and engraving from a variety of lenders; while the popularity of the ‘classic’ ruin as a coveted, fetishized image among collectors is reflected in engravings and etchings by and after JMW Turner, Rembrandt, Callot, Tiepolo, Salvatore Rosa, Claude Lorrain, van der Velde, and others. Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78) is the undoubted star of the exhibition. His works are ubiquitous in the main gallery and in the dedicated viewing space downstairs. His complex and supremely detailed engravings of Greek and Roman ruins, mainly executed in the middle of the eighteenth century, posit the artist as the nexus between the contemporaneous, parallel, burgeoning neo-classical and romantic movements.

Russell Drysdale and Margaret Olley @ Geelong GalleryThe exhibition is given an Australian perspective not only through the works of Lionel Lindsay, who travelled extensively throughout Europe and captured his impressions in a number of most exquisite watercolours and etchings, but also through those Australian artists looking at ruins and architectural remnants within our own country. Views of derelict buildings in Hobart by Blamire Young (Rat’s Castle, c. 1919, Art Gallery of NSW); and Hill End by Russell Drysdale (1948, Geelong Gallery) and Margaret Olley (1948, NGV) are among the most poignant representations; the sober mood and limited colour palette imbue these works with an overall reflective and contemplative atmosphere.

I have used a number of colourful epithets in the past to illuminate my impressions of various exhibitions, but as far as this show is concerned, only one comes to mind, and it is the one I rarely (if ever) used before – ERUDITE. It is surprising and refreshing to come across an exhibition like this that succeeds in producing a memorable effect by the sheer quality of the exhibits, intellectual gravitas, and the erudite selection of the artworks on display.

As far as this exhibition is concerned, I have only two regrets: that it is closing this Sunday (24 June), and that it is not travelling beyond the present venue, for it truly deserves to be seen and appreciated by further audiences.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

Blamire Young - Rat's Castle

Piranesi

Bernardo Bellotto

07
May
12

Dresden Portrait Re-Identified as a ‘Lost’ portrait of Augusta Großherzogin von Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1822-1916) by F.X. Winterhalter

321 46 Mecklenburg-Strelitz WinterhalterDresden Portrait Re-Identified as Winterhalter’s ‘Lost’ portrait of Augusta Großherzogin von Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1822-1916)

The recent catalogue of Victorian Miniatures in the Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has helped me to shed light on the portrait in the collection of Galerie Neue Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, known hitherto only as Damenbildnis [see no 321, Works by Franz Xaver Winterhalter 1846-1850]

The painting can now be fully identified as a portrait of Augusta Großherzogin von Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1822-1916), née Princess of Cambridge, painted at Windsor Castle between 7 and 16 October 1846.

 

The following research information backs up my suggestion:

  • A miniature enamel copy of this portrait (5.0 x 4.0 cm) by John Simpson (1811-aft 1871), signed, dated, and identified as a copy after Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s portrait of Princess Augusta of Cambridge, Hereditary Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, of 1846, is in the collection of HM Queen Elizabeth II (RCIN 421918).
  • A further copy of this portrait by Henry Melville (fl 1846-86) (oil on canvas, 61 x 50.8 cm, oval), is also in the collection of HM Queen Elizabeth II (RCIN 406676).
  • Both copies were commissioned by Queen Victoria after the original portrait by F.X. Winterhalter, which was given to the sitter’s husband, Friedrich Wilhelm Großherzog von Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1819-1904).

000 Copy - FXW MSThere are numerous references to confirm the dating of the portrait from October 1846:

  • The portrait was commissioned by Queen Victoria from Franz Xaver Winterhalter, who was in England from September 1846 to February 1847 [Oliver Millar, Victorian Pictures, 1: 284]
  • One of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, Hon. Eleanor Stanley, wrote in a letter from Windsor Castle, dated 7 October 1846: “I was on the whole day with some Royalty or other, as the Grand Duchess [of Mecklenburg] sat for her picture from eleven till two to Winterhalter, and desired [me] to go and sit with her… After lunch she had another sitting, and I attended again till four o’clock, when she went out driving with the Queen…” [Eleanor Stanley, Letters (London: 1916), 136].
  • The portrait is mentioned in Queen Victoria’s diary in an entry for 16 October 1846, where the portrait is described as ‘quite beautiful & so boldly, as well as finely painted’ [Oliver Millar, Victorian Pictures (London: 1992), 1: 326].
  • It was given as a joint present from Queen Victoria and the Dowager Queen Adelaide to the sitter’s husband, then the Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, on 17 October 1846 [ibid].
  • The portrait is mentioned on the list of portraits by F.X. Winterhalter, published posthumously by the artist’s nephew, Franz Wild, in 1894, where it appears among other 1846 portraits by the artist [Franz Wild, Neckrologe…, 38].

A confirmation has been recently received from the Galerie Neue Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, accepting this identification.

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2012

11
May
11

Portraits @ Leonard Joel May 2011 Sunday Art Auction

LJ 132 Archibald ColquhounWednesday, 11 May 2011

Portraits @ Leonard Joel May 2011 Sunday Art Auction

As always, a quick overview of portraits that were offered at recent art sales. Because of the all-inclusive nature of Leonard Joel’s auctions (as discussed in the previous post), their sales are perhaps the best places to view and find a wide variety of portraits by local and international artists offered on the Australian art market.

LJ 010 Ernst BuckmasterWhile the cross-section of portraits was more exciting in some of their previous offers, the May 2011 Sunday Art Auction also unearthed some interesting, unusual and unexpected items, perhaps none more so than Ernst Buckmaster’s self-portrait from 1926, painted when the artist was in his late 20s. Buckmaster shows himself in a flattering three-quarter turn against an abstracted background; his face boldly lit from the left-hand side, emphasising the shock of bushy black hair, deep-set eyes, prominent nose and chin, and a slightly haughty expression about his mouth and brow. There is something indelibly Edwardian about this self-representation, clearly emulating the bravura style of John Singer Sargent. One has to love the artifice of the portrait, where the artist chose to represent himself standing in a simple painter’s smock, which covers a formal black-tie dress complete with a bowtie and starched collar, as if the artist presages the popular success he would achieve later in life as a fashionable landscape and still-life painter. Estimated at $2,000-$4,000, the portrait sold for $6,600 (IBP).

LJ 347 Jean SutherlandIt is interesting to compare this work to a portrait of the same sitter by Jean Sutherland, obviously painted much later, but displaying the same slightly arrogant and self-assured arching of the brow (sold here en suite with Sutherland’s self-portrait, est. $800-$1,200); or indeed against another self-portrait in the auction, that of Douglas Watson of 1945, who also dashingly portrayed himself with a cigarette in his hand and sporting Hollywood mustachios (est $1,000-$1,500; unsold).

LJ 092 Rupert BunnyPerhaps my favourite portrait in the auction has to be a charming and lively study by Rupert Bunny of his wife and muse, Jeanne Morel. Painted c. 1895, the portrait predates some of Bunny’s better known, lavish full-length representations of his wife, many of which appeared at the last year’s retrospective of the artist (and discussed within these pages in a number of earlier posts). The portrait depicts Jeanne boldly in clear and sharp profile, lost in an intent conversation with an invisible interlocutor. The liveliness and immediacy of the image has something of an amazing snap-shot quality to it one would normally associate with a photograph rather than a drawing. Her face is executed in beautiful detail, while her dress is but a hint, a suggestion of folds and outlines of puffed sleeves and a late-Victorian bodice. There are echoes of Sargent’s celebrated portrait of Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, painted a few years previously in 1892-93, especially in the way Jeanne Morel holds on to the side of the chair with her hand. It is undoubtedly one of the loveliest and surprisingly fresh watercolour portraits I’ve seen by the artist in a long time, and the public must have thought as highly of it as I did: estimated at $3,000-$4,000, the portrait drawing sold for $13,200 IBP, more than four times its lower estimate.

LJ 038 Tony TucksonOther portraits on offer included Tony Tuckson’s Matisse-esque interpretation of his wife, Margaret, from the early to mid 1950s (est. $16,000-$20,000, sold $28,800 IBP); David Rankin’s ghostly evocation of his wife, writer Lily Brett, of 1986 (est $1,000-$2,000, sold $2,400 IBP); a rather dashing representation of Violet Teague’s husband (?), Roger Teague, in full riding habit (est $3,000-$5,000, unsold); and a fresh and vibrantly painted portrait of an unknown lady by Archibald Douglas Colquhoun (est. $700-$900, unsold).

LJ 286 Peter ChurcherNorman Lindsay’s oil Rita of c. 1940s made yet another appearance on the auction block (est. $20,000-$30,000; sold $24,000 IBP); and there was also a lively profile portrait drawing of the same model (est. $1,000-$2,000, sold $3,360 IBP). And since we’re admitting identifiable models into the sphere of portraiture, we can’t go past Peter Churcher’s generously proportioned male nude, Simon Seated, which is unfortunately not the most felicitous creation by this otherwise talented artist (est. $7,000-$9,000, unsold).

LJ 212 Francois FerriereAs always, there was also a selection of what one of the former auctioneers of this house inspiringly termed ‘instant ancestors’ – portraits of unknown, soberly dressed ladies and gentlemen gazing at the viewer from the 18th and 19th Century canvasses, such as an unknown gentleman by an early 19th-C. British school (est. $1,000-$2,000, unsold); or a copy after George Romney’s portrait of John Askew of Whitehaven, c. 1800 (est. $2,000-$3,000, unsold). Perhaps the most attractive and romantic of the lot is an 18th-C. Portrait of a Lady by the Swiss François Ferriere, dating from 1786, in full powdered wig and beautifully executed gauze wrap around her shoulders; the lightness of the face, hair, and bodice effectively silhouetted against the overall darkness of the background (est $800-$1,200; sold $1,140 IBP).

This selection shows that portraiture, both as a genre and an area of collecting, continues to fare alive and well in Australia; and it is thanks to the auctions like these that we see gems, rarities, and surprises like those by Bunny, Buckmaster, or Ferriere emerging from the confines of private Australian collections to find new homes, sometimes with surprising (and profitable!) results for their former owners.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2011. This article is copyright, but full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment]




Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

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