Christie’s Paris, 18 May 2022 at 2:30 pm.
Ahead of the Salon du Dessin, which will be held from the 18th until the 23rd of May, the auction house Christie’s will be presenting its sale dedicated to the Old Masters which will be led by an unpublished drawing by Michelangelo, exceptional work, one of the few by Michelangelo still in private hands.
The Old Masters sale will highlight a set of drawings, paintings, and sculptures, which has been carefully selected by our specialist. Major artists such as Théodore Gericault, Elisabeth Louise, Vigée le Brun whose the painting has not been seen on the market since 1847, Jean-Baptiste Oudry, and Nicolas de Largillierre will be showcased and will set up a dialogue with the masters of drawing, such as Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Charles Natoire and Jean-Antoine Watteau.
The medium of sculpture will be represented including a splendid pyxis, enamelers such as Pierre Veyrier II, Jean II Pénicaud and Léonard Limosin. The works will be exhibited alongside new creations by interior designer Hugo Toro. The sale consists of 264 lots for a global estimate between €6 and 9 million.
The Old Master and 19th-century drawings department will be particularly highlighted with the sale of the rediscovering of the drawing by Michelangelo, A nude man (after Masaccio) and two figures behind, but also through a selection of about a hundred sheets under the common theme of rediscovery.
They begin in the 17th century, with three unseen drawings by Martin Fréminet (1567-1619), an emblematic painter of the Fontainebleau school, titled Sketch for the ceiling with an allegorical figure of faith (€70,000-100,000, ill. left), Study for a biblical king (€20,000-30,000) and Medallion with two harpies and garlands (€7,000-10,000).
These studies, rendered in graphite and brown wash, are preparatory sketches for the painted decoration of the Trinity Chapel of the Château de Fontainebleau.
The French school will be very well represented by such artists as Charles de La Fosse (1636-1716), Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806) Charles Natoire, Jean-Antoine Watteau (1732-1806) including red chalk representing a Couple walking in a landscape (estimate: €100,000-150,000) and Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805) with another beautiful ink and wash sheet representing Silenus’ march (€30,000-50,000, ill. p. 1). The drawing comes from the collections of Vincent Donjeux (1793), Baron Charles de Vèze (1855), and François Walferdin (1860).
The Old Master Paintings department will present some beautiful rediscoveries, such as a charming portrait of a child by the artist Jacques Joseph André Aved (1702-1766) which illustrates perfectly the sometimes profoundly intimate art of portraiture in the 18th century.
This drawing, called the ‘La dessineuse’, also testifies to the close artistic links between the painter Aved and his friend, Jean Siméon Chardin (1699-1779). Coming straight from the descendants of the artist, this painting will be sold for the first time since its inception. Estimated at €150,000-250,000, it will be presented with another important work from the same collection.
Another highlight from the painting section is a rare oil on canvas from Nicolas de Largillierre (1646-1756), whose religious subject makes it stands out within the artist’s corpus. This Saint Barthélemy (around 1710), with naturalistic features and bathed in divine light, was only attributed to the artist in 2003 by Dominique Brême, on the occasion of the exhibition at the musée Jacquemart-André in Paris.
The latter is recognized in our painting of one of the apostles who decorated the painter’s elegant Parisian home on the rue Geoffroy-l’Angevin. It is estimated at €60,000-80,000.
Finally, with a distinguished provenance which includes Delacroix’s personal collection, as well as Prince Napoléon’s and the collection of the Elie de Rothschild, a portrait of a soldier titled Lancier from the 1er Régiment de Chevau-Léger-Lanciers de la Garde, called Polonais by Théodore Gericault (1791-1824) will number among this sale’s exceptional works (estimation €80,000-100,000).
Here, we find a few of the themes that were so dear to the artist and which herald romanticism, such as horses, battle scenes, and soldiers; themes that celebrate the artist’s ideals of liberty, heroism, and wonder.
Alexandre Mordret-Isambert, a new specialist in sculpture in Paris, will highlight a selection of high quality, including a rare liturgical object executed in Limoges during the second half of the 13th century, a Virgin and Child forming a pyxis. No equivalent is known in museums or private collections.
The sculpture, in a very good state of preservation, has remained hidden from view since the Universal Exhibition of 1900 where it was presented.
The pyxis comes from prestigious collections: first the Frédéric Spitzer collection (1815-1890), then the Victor Martin Le Roy collection (1842-1918), then by descent to his daughter Jeanne, wife of Jean-Joseph Marquet de Vasselot (1871-1946), curator at the Louvre and then director of the Cluny Museum, a great art historian and important collector of medieval and Renaissance art objects.
In November 2011, Christie’s sold 24 works from the Marquet-Vassselot collection, including a carved ivory group representing the Virgin and Child enthroned for €6,337,000. The family still kept this treasure. Many objects from the collection are now in museums, including the Louvre and Cluny.