Christie’s recently announced Classic Week, a marquee series of nine auctions that feature works of art from antiquity to the 20th century. Sales will be held from 18 June – 15 July and include Old Masters Evening Sale, The Exceptional Sale, Old Master and British Drawings and Watercolours including a Fine Collection of Old Master Prints; Antiquities; Old Master Paintings and Sculpture online; Valuable Books and Manuscripts; and British and European Art along with two dedicated Collection sales, The B.J. Eastwood Collection: Important Sporting and Irish Pictures and The Collection of Rita Espírito Santo Family and Three Other Collections.
The Classic Week highlights exhibition and view are taking place at Christie’s, King Street from 3 – 7 July.
Leonardo da Vinci’s, Head of a Bear (estimate £8,000,000-12,000,000); Bernardo Bellotto’s, A View of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi, (estimate £12,000,000-18,000,000); Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s Portrait of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford (1593-1641), (estimate £3,000,000-5,000,000); a Charles I silver inkstand attributed to Christiaen van Vianen (estimate £1,000,000-1,500,000); Isaac Newton (1642-1727) Autograph manuscript, [Cambridge, c. May-July 1694], revisions to the Principia, (estimate: £600,000–900,000); an Egyptian granite head of Sekhmet, New Kingdom, 18th dynasty, reign of Amenhotep III, 1390-1352 B.C. (Estimate £2,000,000-3,000,000); a Giovanni Battista Tiepolo Design for a ceremonial barge representing the Triumph of Poland (estimate £400,000-600,000); and a Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) Study of Alexa Wilding, her head turned three-quarters to the right, (estimate £300,000-500,000).
The Old Masters Evening Sale – 8 July 7.00 pm Live
Encompassing six centuries of European art and sculpture, the Old Masters Evening Sale is led by a majestic view of Verona by the prodigiously talented nephew of Canaletto, Bernardo Bellotto, which has been on long-term loan to the National Galleries of Scotland since 1973.
Other notable highlights include an arresting portrait of the Earl of Strafford by Sir Anthony van Dyck, originally in the collection of King Charles I; a haunting image of Saint Andrew by the enigmatic Georges de La Tour, one of the last pictures by the artist remaining in private hands; a lavish banqueting scene by Jan Davidsz. de Heem, recently restituted to the heirs of Jacob Lierens and one of the most widely admired and extensively published Dutch still-lifes in the modern era; and Sir Edward Burne-Jones’ celebrated rendering of The Prince entering the Briar Wood.
The theme of music and theatre is picked up in various works in the sale, including an exquisitely rendered cabinet piece by Frans van Mieris of a Music Lesson, a monumental Merry Company by Dirck Hals and Dirck van Delen, a pioneering painting by Marco Ricci of an Opera Rehearsal and a witty and engaging painting of David Garrick in Ben Johnson’s The Alchymist by Johann Zoffany, widely regarded as one of his greatest theatre pictures.
The sale has works by three female artists – Artemisia Gentileschi, Michaelina Wautier and Angelica Kauffman, and incorporates important topographical views such as a panoramic view of Venice by Vanvitelli, and a dramatic view of the Neapolitan coast with Vesuvius erupting in the distance by Joseph Wright of Derby.
Sculpture spans the chronological period from the late mediaeval era to the Rococo, with representation from both traditional sculptures in bronze and marble to works of art such as the 13th century Limoges enamel processional cross from the Koenigs collection (lot 33). Among the highlights is the marble group by Bonino da Campione of the Madonna and Child (estimate £200-300,000) which represents the rare iconographic theme of the young Christ reading in his mother’s lap. Bonino was the most important proponent among a group of 14th-century Italian sculptors in a Swiss enclave close to Lugano. The marble group is distinguished by its excellent state of preservation.
The Exceptional Sale 8 July 5.00 pm Live
The Exceptional Sale will be led by an exquisite drawing of Head of a Bear by Leonardo da Vinci (estimate £8,000,000-12,000,000), one of a very small number of sheets by the artist in private hands. The work is a precious example of Leonardo’s scientific interest, sensitivity to the natural world, exceptional gifts of observation, and unmatched mastery as a draughtsman. The extraordinary and monumental inkstand (illustrated left), until recently on long term loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, is attributed to the Utrecht born silversmith Christiaen van Vianen for its design in the sinuous auricular style and fine virtuoso chasing, which culminates in figural cartouches emblematic of the Seven Liberal Arts (estimate £1,000,000-1,500,000).
The Baron de Besenval garniture comprises three pairs of ormolu-mounted Chinese celadon vases, exceptionally reunited for sale, which belonged to the Swiss-born Pierre-Victor, Baron de Besenval (1722-1791), Commander of the Swiss Guards and intimate friend of Queen Marie-Antoinette (offered as consecutive lots estimated at £300,000-500,000; £250,000-400,000; £70,000-100,000).
Other highlights include a wonder of horology, an orrery clock designed by Jacques-Thomas Castel, conseiller-secrétaire to the King, and sold from the fabled Rothschild collection at Mentmore Towers (estimate £400,000-600,000); a ‘Gothick’ style library desk to a design by Thomas Chippendale (estimate £250,000-400,000); an extraordinary ‘Japonisme’ corner cabinet by Christofle et Cie rumoured to have been made for the Marquise de Païva (estimate £500,000-800,000); a monolithic slice of the Fukang meteorite, the most beautiful extraterrestrial substance known (estimate £350,000-550,000).