Christie’s Old Master Prints online-only auction, open for bidding from 19 to 28 January 2021, offers a selection of fine and rare prints that span five centuries of European printmaking. The works presented range from a hand-coloured woodcut from the mid-to-late-15th century by an anonymous German printmaker to an early-19th century French lithograph with watercolour by Carle Vernet.
Albrecht Dürer is represented, in both woodcut and engraving, including a proof-impression of the Crucifixion from the Large Passion (circa 1498, estimate: £25,000-35,000) and two of his most iconic engravings: Adam and Eve (1504, estimate: £100,000-150,000) and Melencolia I (1514, estimate: £80,000-120,000).
Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait, wearing a soft Cap: full Face, Head only (circa 1634, estimate: £15,000-25,000) and Self-Portrait with Saskia (1636, estimate: £7,000-10,000) demonstrate the sensitivity and outstanding draughtsmanship of the Dutch master painter-etcher.
Further work by Rembrandt includes The Star of the Kings – a Night Piece (circa 1652, estimate: £12,000-18,000) and a luminous impression of Christ healing the Sick: ‘The Hundred Guilder Print’ on silk (circa 1648, estimate: £12,000-18,000).
Collections of Italian prints include the late Professor Eric Stanley, and various scholars. Within these extraordinary groups are rarities by the engravers of Raphael’s circle (Marcantonio Raimondi, Marco Dente, Agostino Veneziano), Nicolas Beatrizet and the Scultori-Ghisi Family.
Their prints, after compositions by artists including Raphael, Michelangelo, and Giulio Romano, were instrumental in promoting their fame and disseminating Italian Renaissance art.
A few decades later in the Low Countries, artists such as Hendrick Goltzius and the Antwerp publisher Hieronymus Cock became the leading printmakers in Europe. A first state-impression of The Alchemist is an outstanding example of the many prints published by Cock after Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s quirky inventions (circa 1558, estimate: £20,000-30,000), while Mars and Venus surprised by Vulcan by Goltzius (1585, estimate: £3,000-5,000) epitomises his high mannerist style and the eroticised courtly culture of the period. Estimates range from £100 to £100,000 providing opportunities for collectors of all stages to acquire Old Master Prints.