Paris auction house Artcurial has unveiled highlights of its upcoming Old Masters sale. Among the top lots is a 16th century painting of Judith and the head of Holofernes attributed to German artist Melchior Feselen. The work is estimated between €400,000–600,000 ($470,000-700,000) and will go up for sale on November 20.
The painting features the well-known image of Judith’s beheading of Assyrian general Holofernes. The painter has placed a Bethulian elder in the foreground with the heroine, who poses with a sword— a feature typical of other Renaissance and Baroque depictions of the story. According to Artcurial’s catalogue essay, details recall influence from Bavarian painters of the 16th century like Lucas Cranach. Feselen’s style is known for its closeness to Munich painter Albrecht Altdorfer. Feselen is known to have made history paintings for William IV of Bavaria.
The work comes to sale from a private Italian collection. The first owner of the work was 18th Century German urban architect Johann Peter Weyer, who designed the city of Cologne. Its last sale on the market was recorded in 1862 at Lempertz in Weyer’s estate sale, and is believed to have been in Paris in 1899. Several works by German old masters thought to have been in Weyer’s original collection have come to auction in recent years, including The Virgin And Child Enthroned With Saints Catherine And Ursula attributed to The Master Of The Aachen Altarpiece, which sold at Sotheby’s London in 2018 for £150,000.
According to Artcurial’s cataloguing, few works have ever been attributed to Feselen. Other examples of the artist’s work reside in museum collections including, The Siege of the City of Alesia at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich Germany. The Dormition of the Virgin was the last to come up on the market. It sold in 2019 at Lempertz for $43,859.