Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Dorotheum: Auction week of Old Master Paintings, 19th Century Paintings, Works of Art and Jewellery in Vienna

Tuesday the 14th of October 2014 - Featuring numerous highlights in the categories of old master paintings, 19th century paintings, works of art, and jewellery, Dorotheum is pleased to announce its upcoming major autumn auctions. Dorotheum  was founded in 1707 by Emperor Joseph I and, with its history of more than 300 years, it is the oldest of the great auction houses of the world.  One of Vienna’s best-known institutions, the Dorotheum can be said to embody a part of Austrian history. Eighty years after its foundation as a pawnshop, the "Versatz- und Fragamt zu Wien", it moved into the premises of the former Dorothea Convent, whose name it still bears. The magnificent palace – the Palais Dorotheum, which eventually supplanted the old convent in the Dorotheergasse, was completed in 1901. The famous Ringstrasse architect Emil Ritter von Förster had supplied the designs for the new building in the Neo-Baroque style. Since autumn 2001, the Dorotheum has had private owners, who continue to conduct business with a great deal of personal commitment and a lot of enthusiasm for art. It is the goal of the management to further expand Vienna as an auction venue and at the same time preserve the charm of this traditional institution. With an intensified client service, a young image, and the expansion of its excellent international contacts, the Dorotheum intends to preserve and further develop its interesting profile for art lovers and collectors. Key initiatives are being taken especially in the fields of Modern and Contemporary Art. The Dorotheum’s headquarters are located in the Dorotheum Palace or Palais Dorotheum, in the centre of Austria’s culture- and art-minded capital Vienna, right in the heart of Europe. The magnificent palace is a prominent meeting place for art collectors from all over the world and a major platform for the Austrian art market.


Auction 21st October 2014
ENTER THE FOOLS: Old Masters from the North

Frans Verbeeck (1510 - 1570)
The Mocking of Human Follies,
oil on canvas, 135 x 188 cm,
€ 900.000 - 1.200.000
Bizarre and surreal like Bosch, painted in the virtuoso manner of famous contemporaries: There are many reasons why Frans Verbeeck’s large format „The Mocking of Human Follies” has become the poster child of the upcoming Dorotheum auction of old master paintings on 21st October 2014, with an estimated price of 900,000 – 1,200,000 Euro.

Alexander Wied addresses the works exceptionally complex iconography: “ Under a large tree in an open, green meadow landscape, merchants are trading with a number of tiny men, some of which are recognizable by their hats and bells as jesters. The scene can only be viewed as an allegory. It depicts the interminable existence and exercise of foolishness –a satirical take on human folly. In the foreground, merchants at a table are in the process of weighing tiny jesters, while a travelling salesman and his wife are offering others out of baskets and a sack. Something similar to a bridle is attached to the salesman’s head, on his forehead a tiny jester sits with a hammer in hand, alluding to the well-known ”stone surgery”. The surgical removal of a stone from the forehead is a pictural theme which originates from Hieronymus Bosch and was much used in different variations in 16th and 17th century art. The message is short and simple: Stupidity cannot be surgically removed – the operation is futile, which makes the undertaking itself utterly foolish. Just as foolish appear the two pilgrims on the left hand side of the painting who kneel down in worship in front of two elderly jesters. The female jester is at the same time breastfeeding a jester baby and feeding it with porridge.

Verbeeck also depicts the clergy in an unfavourable light: The lovers depicted in the right hand side of the canvas are easily identified as a monk and a nun. They have escaped from the monastery and now indulge in the madness of love.


Pietro Antonio Rotari (1707 - 1762)
Portrait of a young woman
in peasant costume,
oil on canvas, 45 x 34,5 cm,
€ 80.000 - 120.000
The motivation behind, or key to, many of the painting’s allusive, rebus like details can be traced to the satirical rhymed texts that came out of the so called chambers of rhetoric, or “Rederijkerskamers”, whose members were poking elegantly fun at human vices and folly. The small inscription fields included in the painting may well contain short sentences from such “Rederijker” texts, but the words are no longer discernible. One clear example of this is visible in the cage, which hangs above the dancing group on the painting’s right hand side. Inside the cage a jester sits atop a big, hatching egg, out of which slips another small jester. It’s a reference to the Dutch saying ”men mag geen zot eieren laten uitbroeden”, which in English cautions ”not to leave it to a fool to hatch eggs” –because the result will only be more fools.

The well preserved panel „Coastal landscape with fish market“ by Jan Brueghel I. offers an animated and atmospheric view of a busy fish market surrounded by a mysterious littoral landscape (€ 200,000 – 300,000).

A „Wedding Dance“ in a pastoral setting has always been a popular subject among the Brueghel family of painters. The auction features a rare tondo with this motif, probably painted in Antwerp before 1616. Pieter Brueghel II. presents his own masterly variation of his father’s example, portraying the wedding party without the (paternal) ‘moral club’ and adding landscape sections while leaving out the wedding presents (€ 200,000 – 300,000).

PARADE OF BEAUTIES: Old Masters from the South
There is more than meets the eye in the two female portrait by Pietro Antonio Rotari offered at the upcoming auction. Such portraits of young women enjoyed great popularity during the 19th century and made Pietro Antonio Rotari’s name. Born into an aristocratic family, the portrait painter made his career at the courts of Dresden, Vienna, and St. Petersburg by employing a subtle palette of colours and closely observing the volatile moods of his subjects. While in Russia, he was commissioned to produce a series of paintings of young women representing the country’s ethnic diversity. Rotari created a total of 360 portraits of Russian women for Tsarina Elisabeth – as well as an additional 50 portraits which the Tsarina presented to the Russian Academy of Fine Arts. The Tsarina’s own paintings were intended for Peterhof Palace and are distinguished by a charm that comes close to the work of Greuze or Chardin. The „Portrait of a young woman in a cap“ and the „Portrait of a young woman in peasant costume“ are each priced at 80,000 to 120,000 Euro.

Beauty was also a sought after characteristic when casting for allegories, as in the current auction’s allegories of Vanity and Painting: Paris Bordone, whose colour scheme is quite as distinctive as that of his teacher, Titian, represents Vanity as an impressive but pensive woman with a mirror, flanked by Age in the guise of an old woman. Bernardo Cavallino, probably inspired by a painting by Artemisia Gentileschi, depicts Painting – who naturally is shown as a young woman – relating to Poetry. His new interpretation has Painting wear the laurel wreath commonly associated with Poetry (€ 180,000 – 220,000).
The Allegory of Fortitude and Temperance by Pietro Liberi includes a tame lion resting his head on the thighs of a beautiful woman. Beauty and age are also the subject of Lavinia Fontana, a celebrated paintress even in her own day. A noblewoman accompanied by an old maid is seen holding a small dog, symbolising marital fidelity. A second painting of a widow may show the same woman at a later stage in life. The child by her side reaches for the apple in her hand, symbolising her son’s future inheritance (each € 120,000 – 180,000).

Relatable to none less than the „The Seven Acts of Compassion (Madonna del Popolo)“ by Federico Barocci at the Uffizi, two female portrait offered at the auction show a marked resemblance to the figures in the famous altar painting (each € 80,000 – 120,000).

Often considered an everlasting beauty in its own right, Venice, the Serenissima, has provided a motif to countless generations of painters. Particularly idyllic examples by Apollonio Domenichini show a Canale Grande filled with gondolas as well as the Bucintoro, the state barge of the Doges, with the Doge’s Palace in the background (each € 120,000 – 180,000). In addition, Jusepe Ribera and Giuseppe Vermiglio likewise contribute famous paintings to the auction (€ 80,000 – 120,000, € 150,000 – 200,000).

Auction 23rd October 2014
AUTUMN MOODS: 19th Century Paintings

The auction of 19th century paintings on 23rd October 2014 features approximately 250 works, by Austrian as well as international artists, in particular from Italy as well as from Russia, for example Alexei Michailovich Korin or Constantin Jegorowitsch.

Olga Wisinger-Florian’s oil painting of an atmospheric autumn landscape heads the roster of Austrian artist; valued at 80,000 to 120,000 Euro, it comes from a German private collection. Also present will be Emil Jakob Schindler (From Haslau by the Danube, € 50,000 – 70,000) as well as Friedrich Gauermann, whose „Ploughing and Harrowing in the Salzburg Region“ also offers views of the surrounding mountain landscape and the gathering clouds (€ 60,000 – 80,000).

Franz Richard Unterberger’s atmospheric paintings, in particular his Italian views, assured the artist’s early renown. The Dorotheum auction features his „Castellmare Golfo di Napoli“, a large format oil painting with a silhouette of Mt Vesuvius in the background, with an estimated price of 40,000 to 60,000 Euro. Estimated at 50,000 to 70,000 Euro, Thomas Ender’s „Large Landscape in the Tyrol“ is one of the topographically precise paintings that garnered him commissions by the Austrian imperial family. In 1828, he became the chamber painter of Archduke Johann, with the present painting probably belonging to this period.

Conrad Hoff contributes a View of Venice (€ 25,000 – 35,000), and the auction also includes works by Vincenzo Irolli („Communion“, € 70,000 – 90,000) or Fausto Zonaro. The Scottish painter Arthur Melville has not previously appeared at a Dorotheum auction: His 1880, dated and signed market scene „Old Enemies“, exhibited as well as published on several occasions, shows a scared young girl, hiding behind her mother from a persecution of turkeys, is expected to sell for 30,000 to 40,000 Euro.


Auction 22nd October 2014
GOOD AS GOLD: Works of Art

Real or simulated gold appears to have been the stuff dream antiques of the 18th and 19th century were made of, such as those coming up for auction on 22nd October 2014. The bright gold ground of a 31-part porcelain coffee- and tea service made between 1788 to 1799 offers a perfect counterpoint to the hand-painted floral décor – a true rarity on account of its coherence and perfect state of preservation! (€ 100,000 – 150,000)

A Parisian vase of fire-gilt bronze by Pierre-Philippe Thomire proudly displays the allied coat-of-arms of the English Catholic Sir Humphry de Trafford (€ 7,000 – 9,000).

Carved from wood and applied with plaster décor and gilding, the ornamental frame of an exceptional  library globe measures an equally exceptional 71 cm in diameter. Made in 1871 by C. Adami and H. Kiepert in Berlin as a „Terrestrial Globe“ it features such varied images as “Steamer- and sailing boat routs, European and American trading ports in East Asia, discoveries around the South Pole by Cook, Ross, Bellingshausen as well as other discoveries (€ 30,000 – 50,000).

Many items on furniture are also clothed on gold: artfully gilt drawer handles and ornamental keyholes decorate a Baroque writing desk top from 18th century Venice (€ 20,000 – 30,000), while a pair of neoclassical console tables from the first half of the 19th century is decorated with applied gold fittings and gilt female heads in the manner of antiquity (€ 30,000 – 40,000).

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