Published: August 29, 2006
Louis Jean Francois Lagrenée’s (1725–1805) “Venus Bathing” provided the highlight of the 400th Art and Antiques Auction conducted this summer by Nagel Auktionen. This painting, dated 1776, reveals a break with the rococo style. A propensity for classicism, expressed both in the reserved colors and refined painting technique, is characteristic of this French painter. When this painting came under the hammer, a bidding battle broke out among the international dealers, and when it was over, the painting had achieved $187,000, which the auction house believed to be a record price for paintings by Lagrenée on the international market.
One of the most convincing of the paintings of Old Masters was a depiction of “The Annunciation to the Virgin” assigned to the Emilian-Bolognese school in the first half of the Seventeenth Century. A label glued to the back of the work named Giacomo Cavedone as the artist. This painting was also sold to an international dealer for $49,000. A picture of the holy family with Saint Anna made its way to Italy. The wooden panel crafted by an artist close to the Roman-Bolognese school around 1620–30 was taken over by an Italian customer for $29,000.
Among the Nineteenth Century paintings, a signed church service scene by Edouard Henri Théophile Pingret (1788–1875) dated 1822 turned out to be a surprise. Unfortunately, Nagel’s specialists were unable to identify the persons portrayed, and thus the catalog description had to make do with “probably a First Communion in the Bonaparte house.” It can be assumed that the international trade was rather more in the know and therefore offered $102,000.
In a gratifying development, a private German customer offered $72,000 for Alexander Koester’s (1864–1932) oil on canvas duck painting. Wilhelm Leibl’s “Likeness of a Farm Girl” of 1892 was knocked down to the German trade for $61,000.
In the books, drawings, watercolors and art prints category that started off the June auction, a copy of the Liber Chronaricum printed in 1497 by Johann Schönsperger in Augsburg, also called the Small Schedel, changed hands for $17,000. Rembrandt’s 1639 etching of a standing peasant with a high hat came to $12,780.
Works of art and Art Nouveau was calmer than the first part of the auction. Among the notable offerings was a rare Kiel faience. This tureen with lid decorated with fine painted flowers in blue fireproof colors originating in the period of Johann Samuel Tännich (1763–1768) was esteemed to be worth $13,600. In the silver category, three upper Italian canon tables with plate glass inserts brought in $3,750, thanks to an Italian bidder. An ivory figure of a “Woman from the Middle East” attributed to Ferdinand Preiss made it to $15,350.
Among the clocks, a magnificent French mantel clock with a splendid case made of bronze and marble in imitation of the grave of Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, which was designed by Michelangelo, took first place at $17,900. A magnificent French mantel clock on a pedestal with a brass inlaid tortoise-shell case and gilded embellishments came to $10,230.
In the sculpture category, a terra cotta group depicting “ercules and Omphale” from the Eighteenth Century stood out, bringing in $13,600, twice its estimate. Saint Jerome, which probably originated at the same time in Italy, likewise a terra cotta sculpture, was bid up to $5,115 by a large number of interested bidders.
Furniture and furnishings sold very selectively. Among the best results were the $22,124 paid for a Viennese Biedermeier fixture for the top of an étagère. A splendid baroque hall cabinet from the Eighteenth Century, made of walnut and plum wood and fitted out with marquetry and block diamond decorations, was held to be worth $7,674.
Among the unsold lots was a museum ceiling painting from an old, thatch-roofed house in Schleswig-Holstein and a Hessian Louis XVI corner secretary desk with bookcase from the Eighteenth Century. On the whole, the June auction grossed $2.36 million.
All prices reported are converted from euros to US dollars and include the 33 percent buyer’s premium. For information, 11 649 69 0 or www.auction.de.
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