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NEWS ÀRCHIVE
Sotheby’s Latin American Art Sale Totals $9,840,800
[May 28, 2004]
 

Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio at Metropolitan
[May 27, 2004]

Vermeer Painting Goes On Display in New York
[May 26, 2004]

 

 
 

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Sotheby’s Latin American Art Sale Totals $9,840,800


Claudio Bravo White Package, 1967
NEW YORK, N.Y.- "We’re very pleased with the outcome of our sale," said Kirsten Hammer, Vice President and Director of Sotheby’s Latin American Art department, "which brought a total of $9,840,800. Our results were very much in line with what we have seen in recent seasons and stronger than last spring’s sale. While much of the bidding activity was either by phone or by absentee bids, bidding wars did break out among clients in the room and more than one-third of the lots in the evening session sold above their high pre-sale estimate. Sculpture did exceptionally well, with a record set for Francisco Zuñiga and an especially strong price for the Bravo sculptural group, which is not only very rare but actually a unique cast and fresh to the market, in addition to having the distinguished provenance of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston." Additional auction records were established for Pedro Coronel, Redolfo Morales and Francisco Matto. The top selling lot of the sale was Claudio Bravo’s superb 1967 White Package, which brought $1,016,000 within the presale estimate of $900,000/1.1 million. Bravo began painting packages while living in Madrid in the mid-1960s, in response to the then-current trends of color field and abstract painting. The Package series proved to be a breakthrough for Bravo and positioned him as the leading realist of his time. Following the success of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, consignment of works by Bravo in November 2003, five additional works by Bravo offered by the Museum brought a total of $381,000. There was frenzied bidding for Bravo’s 1979 figural bronzes, A Pair of Nudes, which sold for $254,400, far exceeding its high estimate of $60,000. Several works by Mexican modern master Rufino Tamayo achieved strong prices, including Nueva York desde la Terraza (New York from the Terrace) from 1937, which brought $904,000 (est. $800,000/1 million). The painting involves many personal elements virtually unprecedented in his former works, utilizing deep symbolism to explain the story of his life. In the foreground Tamayo incorporates his most celebrated subject, sandías, or watermelon. The cover lot of the sale, Tamayo’s Frutera Colmada from 1928, one of the earliest known depictions of Tamayo’s watermelon theme, achieved a strong $444,800 (est. $300/400,000). Rather than depicting scenes from the Mexican revolution, Tamayo used subjects that were much more universal and fundamental to Mexico’s culture and history, using colors, forms and textures that were linked to Pre-Columbian art. Being sold to benefit the Fundación Daniela Chappard was a group of eight Constructivist works from the School of the South which brought strong prices, totaling $449,000. The collection was led by Joaquin Torres-Garcia’s 1943 Arte Constructivo, which brought $344,000 (est. $275/325,000). The foundation raises money and awareness concerning the HIV-positive population in Venezuela to teach prevention of the disease and provide medical care primarily for mothers and their children. Iconic sculptural works by Columbian artist Fernando Botero were among the top-selling prices, including the magnificent bronze La France that renders homage to Maillol, which brought $265,600 (est. $275/325,000), and Little Bird on a Perch, fetching $220,800, a rotund figure emblematic of Botero’s sculpture (est. $125/175,000). 
Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio at Metropolitan


Caravaggio (Milan or Caravaggio, 1571–Porto Ercole, 1610) Supper at Emmaus, 1601 (detail)

NEW YORK, N.Y.- A major international loan exhibition exploring the rich tradition of naturalism in painting and drawing of the North Italian region of Lombardy -- most famously expressed in the works of Caravaggio -- will open at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 27, 2004. Painters of Reality: The Legacy of Leonardo and Caravaggio in Lombardy will feature some 80 paintings and 40 drawings that document the region’s distinctive emphasis on observation of the natural world, beginning in the 15th century with Leonardo da Vinci’s stay in Milan, through the 18th century. A central figure in the exhibition is Caravaggio, through whom this naturalist approach came to Rome and became of key importance to Baroque art there and throughout Europe. On view through August 15, 2004, the exhibition will also feature works by such notable exemplars of the Lombard school as Lorenzo Lotto, Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo, Giacomo Ceruti, and the important women artists Sofonisba Anguissola and Fede Galizia. This will be the first time that this great school of Italian painting will be presented in the United States in such depth. The exhibition is made possible in part by the Regione Lombardia. Additional support has been provided by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation and The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. The exhibition catalogue is made possible by The Drue E. Heinz Fund and the Doris Duke Fund for Publications. The exhibition has been organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and APIC (Associazione Promozione Iniziative Culturali di Cremona). An indemnity has been granted by the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Full recognition of the contribution of Lombard painters to the history of Italian art is relatively recent. Yet, it is arguable that North Italian painting was among the most innovative schools of Italian art and the galvanizing force behind the creation of Baroque art. Caravaggio, who was trained in Milan, and Ludovico and Annibale Carracci all viewed themselves as Lombard painters and heirs to a rich legacy. This groundbreaking exhibition broadens understanding of the important contributions of the many original and highly influential artists working in Northern Italy, especially in the areas of portraiture, still life, nature studies, and the Leonardesque idea of capturing in paint "the motions of the mind." Painters of Reality will focus on the aspects of Lombard painting that set it apart in the minds of contemporaries -- such as the insistence on drawing and painting from a live model -- and led to its practitioners being considered "even greater imitators of nature" than the Venetians. Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus (ca. 1600-1610, National Gallery, London) or Savoldo’s Saint Matthew (ca. 1534, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) exemplify perfectly the Lombard preference for devotional painting grounded in humble reality. The development of still life and genre painting, another key element in Lombard art, will also be examined. The haunting canvases of Giacomo Ceruti, who was active between 1720 and 1767 and was best known for his sympathetic portrayals of the poor, such as Scuola di Ragazze (Private Collection, Brescia), will be a great revelation to American audiences. The exhibition is organized chronologically and thematically into four sections, beginning with "Leonardo and the Idea of Naturalism," which will include an important group of Leonardo’s nature studies as well as works by his followers. "Brescia and Bergamo: Humble Reality in Devotional Art and Portraiture" focuses on a region that produced numerous artists, such as Moretto da Brescia and Giovanni Battista Moroni, whose work had a great impact on Caravaggio. The following section, "Toward a New Naturalism," looks at Cremona and Milan at the time of Caravaggio, and the fourth section, "Painters of Reality," considers artists in Lombardy after Caravaggio. This last section, and the exhibition as a whole, takes its name from a classic exhibition presented in Milan in 1953 in which the remarkable naturalism of these later Lombard artists, such as the great portraitist Fra Galgario, was introduced to a larger public for the first time. Painters of Reality is organized by Andrea Bayer, Associate Curator in the Department of European Paintings, and Keith Christiansen, Jayne Wrightsman Curator of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Professor Mina Gregori, Professor Emerita, University of Florence. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press. The catalogue, which is available in the Museum’s book shops (paperback $40.00, hardcover $60.00), features essays by the volume’s editor, Andrea Bayer; Mina Gregori; Martin Kemp, Professor of the History of Art, University of Oxford; Linda Wolk-Simon, Associate Curator, and Coordinator, Provenance Research Project, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Enrico De Pascale, Consultant, Accademia Carrara, Bergamo; and Giulio Bora, Associate Professor, History of Art, University of Milan. A variety of educational programs will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition, including lectures and gallery talks. The Sunday at the Met program on June 6 will feature two lectures and a documentary film. Professor Alessandro Nova, of the Kunstgeschichtliches Institut at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, will lecture on "The Pictorial Language in Lombardy and Venice: The Case of Romanino and Titian" at 2 p.m. Exhibition curator Andrea Bayer will speak on the "High and Low in Lombard Art" at 3:00 p.m. The lectures will be followed by a screening of The Drawings of Leonardo, a 1953 film directed by Adrian de Potier.

Vermeer Painting Goes On Display in New York


A woman looks closely at Johannes Vermeer’s painting, Young Woman Seated at the Virginals

NEW YORK. - On Thursday, July 8, 2004, Sotheby’s will offer for sale a newly-acknowledged work by the legendary Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer (1632-75). Suffused with the gentle light, rich color and sense of calm that lie at the heart of the artist’s unique and powerful appeal, the painting depicts a young woman seated at the virginals. Enchantingly beautiful and charged with compelling history, the painting is estimated to sell for in excess of ?3 million. For much of the 20th century, this captivating work languished in near-obscurity. Now, after more than ten years of extensive research by a team of leading scholars, the painting has finally taken its place alongside the 35 works that had previously been fully accepted as constituting the artist’s entire output. As one of such a small number of known paintings by Vermeer, Young Woman Seated at the Virginals - represents an immensely important addition to the artist’s oeuvre. Measuring just 10 by 8 inches (25 by 20cm), it is one of Vermeer’s most intimate works and is the same size as Vermeer’s Lacemaker, in the Louvre. The only fully accepted example of Vermeer’s work in private hands, it is also the first painting by the artist to have come to auction in more than 80 years. (The last Vermeer to appear at auction was The Little Street, which was offered at a sale in Amsterdam in 1921. It failed to sell and was subsequently bought by a private collector, who donated it to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. ) Although modern scholars have only recently accepted the painting as an autograph work by Vermeer, for much of its life the painting was generally held to be by Vermeer. The early history of the painting is somewhat obscure: it may have once belonged to Pieter van Ruijven, the man who seems to have been Vermeer’s most important patron; subsequently, in the early 19th century, it appears to have belonged to the Dutch collector Wessel Ryers. However, by 1904 it was securely documented - as a Vermeer - in the collection of Sir Alfred Beit, the distinguished Irish collector who also owned Vermeer’s famous Lady Writing a Letter. It was only in the middle of the 20th century that, in the wake of an extraordinary scandal, the small painting was cursorily thrown out of A.B. de Vries’ leading scholarly monograph of the time. The scandal in question was that of the van Meegeren forgeries, in which, during a famous court hearing in 1947, the master forger Han van Meegeren revealed that, between 1937 and 1943, he had sold no fewer than seven fake "Vermeers" to unwitting museums and collectors. As a result, a number of works previously thought to be by Vermeer were deattributed, including Young Woman Seated at the Virginals. In spite of the fact that A.B. de Vries, the leading authority at the time, subsequently declared that he wished to reinstate the painting, the seeds of doubt had been sown and the work was relegated by many scholars to the margins of Vermeer’s oeuvre. And there it remained - dismissed and largely forgotten - until one day, quite unexpectedly, it caught the eye of a remarkably intuitive collector. The late Baron Frederic Rolin was a Belgian dealer in tribal art and an occasional collector of paintings he liked. When, in 1960, he saw Young Woman Seated at the Virginals in the gallery of a London dealer, he immediately fell in love with it. Although he was made fully aware of the chequered history of the painting and of its recent fall from grace, he was not deterred. He exchanged some of his finest possessions - paintings by Klee, Signac, Bonnard and Riopelle - in order to secure the small canvas. Some 33 years later, in 1993, Baron Rolin showed the painting to Sotheby’s Old Masters specialist Gregory Rubinstein, who was fascinated. "I was intrigued by the painting", he said. "There was something magical about it, and there were areas, particularly the white skirt, which looked exactly like Vermeer. At the same time, though, there was awkwardness in the yellow shawl and a lack of subtlety in some of the shadows. It wasn’t clear to me whether this was a real Vermeer - but that certainly seemed to be a possibility and one, I felt, that needed to be properly explored." Gregory Rubinstein persuaded Baron Rolin to leave the painting with him, and so began a decade of extensive research and fascinating discovery.

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