Colin Gleadell gins up interest in New York’s Old Master sales with these backstories to the paintings on offer:
the research teams at Sotheby’s and Christie’s have also identified previously unknown paintings by Guercino, Frederico Barocci, Bartolomeo Schedoni and Watteau, which are to be sold. It seems extraordinary how many paintings by estabkished artists are still uncovered every year.
Washed up on the shore of restituted, Nazi-looted art are several paintings each with its own tragic history. A $300,000 (£210,000) painting by Jan Brueghel the Younger at Christie’s had belonged to Hugo Kaufmann, a banker in Amsterdam in the 1930s who was prevented from escaping to America and died with his immediate family at Auschwitz. It was not until 2006 that his nephew, then 90 years old, was able to reclaim the painting.
Sotheby’s has a 1624 painting of a bagpipe player by the Dutch artist Hendrick Ter Brugghen, which the German industrialist Herbert von Klemperer was forced to sell in 1938. It then hung in a museum in Cologne until last July, when it was returned to von Klemperer’s heirs. Considered one of Ter Brugghen’s masterpieces, it is estimated to fetch a record $4-6 million.
Like forced sales and forgotten pictures, distress sales are all part of the rich tapestry of art-market history. A painting of the Madonna and Child with two angels, once thought to be by Botticelli ($200,000-300,000), was bought by the British banker Robert Benson in the 1880s. But in 1927, Benson fell on hard times and had to sell his collection, which included masterpieces by Duccio, Bellini, and Titian, as well as this painting, to raise cash. That sale, to the art dealer Joseph Duveen for $4 million, made headlines, bemoaning the loss of British-held masterpieces to America.
Old Masters Up for Auction (Telegraph)