LONDON - Continuing its tradition of bringing to market rare and extraordinary property, Sotheby’s announced a sale which celebrates the 45-year career of esteemed dealer Danny Katz with an offering of works from his sumptuous Bond Street gallery, as Mr Katz undertakes a move to new premises on Hill Street, off Berkeley Square. With estimates ranging from £100 to £120,000, Sotheby’s auction will take place in London on 12th November 2013 and present 285 lots spanning many different collecting disciplines. The sale is expected to realise a total in excess of £2 million and all lots estimated at £5,000 or below will be sold without reserve, creating exciting opportunities for collectors.
Alexander Kader, Head of Sotheby’s European Sculpture & Works of Art Department, comments: “Danny Katz’s name has become synonymous with sublime artworks that are a testament to his exceptional eye and knowledge. His contribution in the field of European sculpture is considered second-to-none by academics and specialists. His interest in the arts ranges widely, however, and over the decades he has cast his net across the centuries on the look-out for paintings and objects which are united by his unerring and intuitive sense of what makes them special.” Danny Katz first became interested in works of art at the age of eighteen and educated himself in London’s salerooms and institutions, particularly at Sotheby’s and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Success came early and he went on to sell to prestigious museums around the world.
Danny Katz comments: “I now find myself at 65 years of age having had, so far, a fascinating career handling some great works of art that I have acquired and sold to leading museums and collectors throughout the world. The art world is constantly changing with the emphasis nowadays more on contemporary art, whereas personally my taste has always been closer to the art of the ancient world up to the mid-twentieth century. I have traded from galleries in Jermyn Street and Old Bond Street and as the fashion houses with their deep pockets seek to have pre-eminence in Bond Street, we have decided to move to a wonderful townhouse in Hill Street, just off Berkeley Square, where we will continue to show beautiful works of art from antiquity to the twentieth century. At my age I would now like to concentrate on fewer objects. Therefore I am offering here at Sotheby’s a selection of works of art that I have acquired over the years. Each and every piece has been fascinating and given me great pleasure.”
The sale will be divided into four themes: portraiture, the corporeal form, nature and design, which will comprise works of art as diverse as 15th century alabaster reliefs, Renaissance bronzes, Old Master paintings and drawings, 16th-century maiolica, 18th century paintings of Mount Vesuvius and 20th century British masters, together with a selection of silver and furniture.
HIGHLIGHTS OF WORKS FROM THE SALE
Imagines / Portraiture
Portrait of Alick Schepeler by Augustus Edwin John (est. £10,000-15,000) depicts Miss Alexandra (Alick) Schepeler who was one of John's chief models in the years 1906-8, inspiring numerous paintings and drawings considered to be amongst the artist's finest works. This is the only surviving painting of the sitter, after La Séraphita, which both John and his biographer Michael Holroyd acknowledge as one of the artist's masterpieces, was burnt in one of the painter's infamous 'cigarette fires' during the 1930s. Artist and model first met in London, where the Russian-born Schepeler was working as Secretary to the Illustrated London News. The attraction was instant, John regarding Schepeler as a kindred – and wild – spirit, and quickly elevating her to the status of a muse. The artist delighted in Schepeler's reputed 'Slavonic' origins (she was actually of German and Irish parentage, although raised in Poland), which set her apart and seemed to heighten her striking appearance. This portrait, centred on the sitter's luminous face framed by a broad-brimmed hat, recalls the fashionable female portraits of the Low Countries in the 17th century. This comparison, however, only emphasises the stark simplicity of the present sitter's dress, which may be interpreted as a token of her 'Bohemian' character.
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi was an artist drawn to the originality of technique and composition, creating unique and fascinating sculptures through the casting of ‘found’ objects – everything from tree bark to clock parts and gramophone components – cast in wax, then twisted, torn and fastened together before being finally cast in bronze. Paolozzi, born in Scotland to Italian parents, is often associated with the sculpture of his British contemporaries Lynn Chadwick, Reg Butler and Kenneth Armitage, and drew great influence from artistic developments taking place in Europe. Studying in Paris and closely inspired by the work of artists such as Jean Dubuffet, his work holds a pivotal position within the advancement of Post-War European sculptural ideas. Conceived in 1951 and cast in bronze, Contemplative Object is a unique sculpture which carries an estimate of £20,000-30,000.
Corpora / Bodies
The sale will feature four Nottingham alabaster carvings, a school of sculpture close to Danny Katz’s heart as evidenced by the exhibition The alabaster men: sacred images from medieval England which was held in the gallery in 2001. In the 15th century, Nottingham alabasters were amongst England’s most important artistic export products and altarpieces from the workshops could be found as far south as Spain and as far north as Scandinavia. Relief with The Ascension of Christ is estimated to bring £20,000-30,000.
The North Italian, mid-15th century Relief with The Virgin and Child (est. £30,000-50,000) featured in a number of exhibitions during the 20th century. It is a fascinating carving by an Italian sculptor who, unusually, specialised in wood carving and worked in the ambit of Donatello. Working in wood allowed him to create much deeper relief than is customary in the Renaissance. Polychromy further enlivens the composition.
Attributed to Claude David, a French sculptor active in the early 18th century, the white marble Polyphemus Devouring A Sailor was originally owned by Sir Thomas Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield, Oxfordshire. It is closely related to an English white marble figure of Prometheus by Claude David which is currently on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Stylistic similarities with further English work by David, a figure of Time on the tomb of Pierre Carteret in Westminster Abbey and a Neptune which is also kept in the V&A, further substantiate the attribution. The sculpture is estimated at £30,000-50,000.
Standing Group by Kenneth Armitage, an original plaster executed circa 1952, was purchased from the estate of the artist and comes to the market with an estimate of £20,000-30,000. Armitage was catapulted to international recognition at the ‘New Aspects of British Sculpture’ exhibition at the XXVI Venice Biennale in 1952, where he exhibited alongside Henry Moore and exciting young talents such as Lynn Chadwick, Eduardo Paolozzi and William Turnbull. The sculpture is emblematic of Armitage’s work at the time, linking several figures together into a central, flattened core. The figures evoked both the anonymity of the individual within a crowd yet at the same time reinforce man’s need for relationships and togetherness – a potent image at the beginning of the Cold War.
Rerum Natura / Nature
Vesuvius Erupting by Moonlight with Spectators in the foreground and Vesuvius Erupting at Night with Spectators looking on from the foreground by Pierre-Jacques Volaire (Toulon 1729 - 1799 Italy) are an elegant pair of paintings depicting the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1794. They were painted at a time in the artist’s career when he had established himself as the pre-eminent painter of volcanic scenes in Naples and had spent over 20 years in the city. Volaire’s sensationalist images were largely aimed at, and highly sought after by, the constant flow of Grand Tourists who visited Naples and its environs. Eminent collectors of his works included the famous English collector of antiquities, Charles Townley. In the second half of the 18th century Mount Vesuvius entered an intense phase of seismic activity. This coincided with Volaire’s arrival in Naples in 1769 and eruptions occurred regularly in the following decade. Many of Volaire’s earlier images depict figures fleeing the molten lava, but this pair, estimated at £80,000-120,000, with the fashionably dressed figures marvelling at the spectacle rather than taking flight in fear for their lives, is typical of his work from the late 1780s and 1790s. Volaire worked en plein air during the eruptions. It seems, however, that he embellished his earlier views at a later date, making it possible for patrons to order paintings of particular eruptions to suit their tastes.
Small bronzes are amongst the most treasured objects of the sculpture connoisseur. They served as conversation pieces in the collector’s cabinets of dignitaries from the Renaissance onwards. This idea appealed to many wealthy collectors in the early 20th century and notable collections were formed by John Pierpont Morgan, Henry Frick and Otto Beit. Cupid on a Dolphin by Francesco Fanelli (est. £8,000-12,000) belonged to the latter. Fanelli was an Italian sculptor who came to England in the early 17th century and produced a number of small bronzes for Whitehall Palace among others.
Ars / Design
The amusing Oil Lamp in the form of an Acrobat, made in Padua, Italy, in the early 16th century shows a contortionist bent double with his head thrust between his legs. When lit, he would appear to be breathing fire from his bottom. This particularly fine bronze cast rests on a wooden base and is estimated at £20,000-30,000.
Perhaps best known for her work as a sculptor, it was after her move to St Ives with her then husband Ben Nicholson, before the outbreak of war in 1939, that Barbara Hepworth began to experiment within a two-dimensional field, creating delicately worked and carefully ruled pencil drawings that were not affected by the same wartime constraints as the possibilities of sculpture. By the 1960s these ‘drawings’ had developed in terms of colour and line, and the interplay and overlap between the two serves to conjure up a rich sense of free-flowing visual and kinetic energy. Marble Form, an oil and pencil on board, signed and dated 1963, is estimated at £30,000-50,000.