In a few weeks, July 3rd to be precise, Master Paintings Week opens within London Art Week. The central draw, of course, is the auction houses’ Old Master offerings which are now viewable online. Here are Bendor Grosvenor’s picks from the catalogues:
an epic Bellotto of Dresden, at £8m-£12m. There’s a Gainsborough three quarter lengthportrait of Sir Richard Brooke at £2m-£3m. I particularly like an English School 1567 full-length portrait on panel of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, which is cheap at £150k-£250k.
The portrait type is derived from Holbein’s original in Rome, which shows the king as a younger man. Here, the head type is re-used – as was common practice – and you can clearly see the pencil tracings used to lay out the details of the face. The detail in the rest of the costume is good, but not perhaps up to Holbein quality. So it’s correctly catalogued I think as ‘Workshop of Holbein’. The estimate is £800,000-£1,200,000. The price compares to a recent ‘Workshop’ Henry VIII that sold at Christie’s in July 2011 at £657k. The Castle Howard isn’t the same celebrated composition as the Christie’s picture, but it’s in better condition.
Of course, we don’t know for sure if Holbein had a studio – there is documentation to attest to assistants – but it seems likely that he adhered to the conventions of the day. I suspect that somewhere out there is a ‘prime’ Holbein original of this type.
Also from Castle Howard is a full-length portrait by Ferdinand Bol, thought to be the artist’s son. The estimate is £2m-£3m.
Sotheby’s highest estimated pic is a Cranach the elder of ‘The Mouth of Truth’ at £6m-£8m.
London Old Master catalogues online (Art History News)