Master Paintings Week (MPW), now in its fifth year and already an important event in the London art calendar, takes place from 28 June to 5 July 2013 and, for the first time, will have the support of The Crown Estate. The successful collaboration between twenty leading dealers and three international auction houses highlights the extraordinarily wide selection of European paintings dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries available in London.
A number of newly rediscovered works will be displayed during Master Paintings Week including The Expulsion of the moneychangers from the temple, an important work by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (1591-1666), known as Guercino, to be shown by newcomers Coll & Cortés Fine Art. The unveiling of this painting, lost until now, sheds new light not only on Emilian painting but also Italian painting of the period. Also participating for the first time is Cesare Lampronti Art Broker Finance Ltd who will stage a special exhibition devoted to the Dutch landscape painter Gaspar van Wittel, known as Gaspare Vanvitelli (1653-1736), who settled in Italy. The highlight will be Venice, view of the Bacino di San Marco looking west with Punta della Dogana and the Church of Santa Maria della Salute. Another work by Vanvitelli, The Church of San Paolo fuori le Mura, Rome, from across the River Tiber, will be presented by Charles Beddington Ltd.
Among the fine works to be shown by Colnaghi will be Samson and Delilah by Willem Bartsius (c.1612-after 1639). This superbly executed painting is an important recent addition to the oeuvre of one of the most enigmatic of Dutch 17th century masters. Only six signed works by Bartsius have survived and a further ten paintings have been attributed to him. The sophistication and high quality of the painting makes it a key work, if not the masterpiece, of this intriguing and little-known artist.
Ben Elwes Fine Art will feature Classical Landscape with travellers crossing a river in the Roman Campagna by Herman van Swanevelt (1604-1655), a leading member of the Dutch art colony in Rome where he is likely to have met Claude Lorrain. The majority of Swanevelt’s later career was spent in Paris where this work was probably executed as the transparent light that sparkles on the autumn leaves and the palette are typical of his Parisian period. The figures are by another hand, possibly Jan Asselyn with whom he collaborated on other works.
Still life painting is always popular and Deborah Gage (Works of Art) has a delicate example by the Flemish painter and lithographer Jan Frans van Dael (1764-1840) entitled Flowers in a Glass Vase on a Ledge, dated 1793. Born in Antwerp, Van Dael settled in Paris in 1786, acquiring lodgings next to Gerard van Spaendonck under whose influence he turned to flower painting in which specialised for the rest of his life. Empress Josephine, Marie-Louise Bonaparte and both Louis XVIII and Charles X were among his patrons. In contrast Richard Green will hold an exhibition entitled Three hundred years of Portraiture and Conversation pieces with works by Cornelius Johnson (1593-1661), Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), Nathaniel Dance (1735-1811), Sir Alfred Munnings (1878-1959) and Augustus John (1878-1961).
Around 1600, the still life evolved into an independent genre and, within the field, artists specialised in particular types from flowers or fruit to food and tableware, achieving high levels of technical virtuosity. Johnny Van Haeften will stage In the Spotlight: Still Life Paintings from the Golden Age which will celebrate the accomplishments of Dutch and Flemish artists of the period. A highlight of the show will be a large Banquet Piece by the Antwerp painter Jacob van Hulsdonck (1582-1647), painted circa 1615 at an early stage in his career. Each object is described with great clarity down to the smallest detail, including a fly resting on a piece of fruit. It is indeed a feast for the eyes.
Haldane Fine Art, exhibiting at Alon Zakaim Fine Art, will feature The Tower of Babel by Frans de Momper (1603-1660) who was a member of one of the most important 17th century Flemish artistic dynasties. A popular subject, this example is interesting as the tower is a pyramid, an exotic contrast to the Gothic-style architecture in the background. A more bucolic scene can be found at Fergus Hall where Landscape with Cattle by Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691), one of the leading landscape painters of the Dutch Golden Age, will be on show. The first recorded owner, Hastings Elwyn (or Elwin) Senior (1742-1833), was one of the most distinguished collectors in England who also owned works by Rubens, Van Dyck and Leonardo da Vinci. In the 1806 Elwyn sale, this painting sold for the then princely sum of £178 10s. Birds take centre stage in Stair Sainty Gallery’s Peacock in a landscape, with birds by Melchior de Hondecoeter (1636-1695), who was famous for his depictions of them as living emotive creatures.
Theo Johns Fine Art will focus on portraiture of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the highlight being a portrait of Giovan Battista Nani, the Venetian Republic Ambassador to France from 1643 to 1668, by the accomplished portraitist Nicolas Régnier (1588-1667). Probably commissioned to commemorate this high office, Nani was to become Procurator of San Marco. Derek Johns Ltd’s exhibition Discovering Latin America will include Viceregal and Colonial paintings from the New World, introducing the main schools and artists who created the art of New Spain after the Spanish conquest of the Americas in the 16th century. Amongst the works on display will be a pair of Casta paintings by the Mexican Andrés de Islas, showing the marital unions between the Spanish and American natives.
John Mitchell Fine Paintings will show a particularly appealing Nativity with Donors by the early Renaissance Flemish painter Jacob Claesz. van Utrecht (1479-1525) in a late 16th century North European cabinetmaker’s frame with its original patina. One of the rarities being offered by Moretti Fine Art is The Victory of David over Goliath, a rediscovered masterpiece by Sebastiano Ricci (1659-1734), a leading protagonist of the Venetian Settecento, one of the greatest artistic Golden Ages of all time. Born in Belluno, Ricci went to Venice at the age of fifteen but hastily departed in 1681, having impregnated two women, one of whom he tried to poison.
Well-known portrait specialist Philip Mould & Company will present an exhibition of previously unseen works by the Restoration master, Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680). Described by the diarist Samuel Pepys as ‘a mighty proud man and full of state’, Lely arrived in London from Holland in 1641 and soon enjoyed prestigious patronage, succeeding Van Dyck as principal painter to Charles II. Portrait of a Gentleman, once thought to be John Milton, is a fine example of his early style and technique which can be contrasted with another from his mature mid 1660s, possibly of William Brouncker, 2nd Viscount Brouncker (1620-1684) a prominent mathematician and first president of the Royal Society.
Under the spotlight at Piacenti Art Gallery Ltd will be Portrait of a Noble Woman by Lavinia Fontana (1555-1614), authenticated by Maria Teresa Cantaro, the leading authority on the artist. The daughter of Mannerist painter Prospero Fontana (1512-1597), Lavinia became the portraitist of choice among Bolognese nobility in the 1580s. From a private French collection, this portrait, possibly of a member of the Gonzaga di Sabbioneta household or the family of Sanvitale di Fontanellato, is an exquisite example of the artist’s ability to render sumptuous clothing and jewels in astonishing detail.
Robilant+Voena will present From Milan to Genoa and back: Between Mannerism and Baroque, an exhibition featuring the Virgin and Child with St John the Baptist by Bernardo Strozzi, the leading figure for visual arts in Genoa in the early 17th century. This work is being included in a forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Strozzi paintings by Camillo Manzitti, who dates it to circa 1625 as the same tones can be found in other paintings from the period such as the Ponce Museum of Art’s Incredulity of Saint Thomas and the Allegory of Charity in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.
A Cobbler in his Workshop by David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690) will be exhibited by Sphinx Fine Art. Painted in 1671, it was engraved in 1744 by the noted French engraver Jacques Philippe Le Bas, making it a source of inspiration for 18th century French artists, notably Chardin. By the 1720s, Teniers’ work was highly esteemed by Parisian collectors. Born in Antwerp, Teniers joined the city’s most famous artistic dynasty when he married the daughter of Jan Breughel the Elder (1568-1625). One of the most successful painters in Antwerp, Teniers attracted prestigious commissions from Philip IV of Spain and Willem II of the Northern Netherlands and was court painter to the Governor of the Southern Netherlands, Archduke Leopold Wilhelm.
Rafael Valls Ltd will stage Master Paintings on a Budget, an exhibition of 17th and 18th century paintings under £40,000, to encourage young and new collectors who do not realise the quality and interest of works available at this price level. Among them will be A Portrait of Sir Thomas Ogle, by Gerard van Honthorst (1592-1656). Sir Thomas Ogle was, by all accounts, quite a character. There is little information on him, presumably due to his family’s attempts to cover up his scandals, but a Samuel Pepys’ diary entry of 1 July 1663 relates how Sir Thomas, together with his friends Thomas Sackville (then Lord Buckhurst) and Sir Charles Sedley, got drunk at the Cock Tavern in Bow Street, London, and ‘exposed themselves to the populace in very indecent postures’.
An important rediscovery will be shown by The Weiss Gallery – Study for the Uffizi Self-Portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792). In 1772 Reynolds was invited by the Grand Duke of Tuscany to contribute to the gallery of self-portraits that formed part of the Medici collection at the Uffizi, Florence. The prestigious commission was clearly important to Reynolds, who had been elected a member of the Accademia di Belle Arti in 1752, and he presented himself as a significant intellectual and artistic force. The oil study is dateable to 1774-5, a key stage in the development and execution of the famous self-portrait that was revered almost as it if were a holy relic when it arrived in Florence.
During MPW special exhibitions and other events will be staged by the dealers, all of whom are situated a short walk from one another in the heart of London’s Mayfair and St James’s, the latter forming a core part of The Crown Estate’s holdings. Meanwhile major auctions will be held at Bonhams on 3 July, Christie’s King Street on 2 and 3 July and at Sotheby’s on 3 and 4 July.
Christie’s evening sale on 2 July will include The Molo, Venice, from the Bacino di San Marco by Giovanni Antonio Canaletto (1697-1768) which is estimated at £4-6 million, while amongst the works at Bonhams on 3 July will be Halte de Chasse by Jean-Baptiste Pater (1695-1736), one of eighteen known hunting subjects which have a significant place in the artist’s oeuvre. In 1736 he was commissioned by Louis XV to paint Chasse Chinoise for the Petite Galerie du Roi at Versailles, a group of six hunting scenes, making Pater one of the instigators of what became a fashionable new genre reflecting the particular passions of the king. Sotheby’s Old Master & British Paintings sale on 3 July will offer 141 works from the celebrated collection of Dr Gustav Rau, including paintings by Monet, El Greco and Tiepolo. Proceeds of the sale will benefit UNICEF Germany.
The success of Master Paintings Week, which attracts collectors, curators and art historians as well as enthusiasts from all around the world, has led to a collaboration with Master Drawings and Sculpture Week to create London Art Week, a platform that further illustrates the extraordinary range and quality of fine art from the 15th to 20th centuries on the market in London. Another 2013 initiative is the Master Paintings Week Directory, a free pocket-sized publication available via www.masterpaintingsweek.co.uk. The free iPhone and iPad apps have an interactive map and GPS showing not only the participating galleries and auction houses, but also hotels and restaurants in the area. Both the apps and website are synchronised via DigitisedArt so are continually updated.