An Unpublished Drawing by Guercino Discovered on the Parisian Art Market

12/3/14 - Discovery - Paris, Hôtel Drouot - The number of auctioneers opening in Paris, which continues to grow, and the corresponding drop in sales held at the Hôtel Drouot as well as their quality lead us to fear the worst for this institution which is over one hundred years old. According to observers, the situation is far from reassuring. However, despite the fewer big auctions, a discovery is always possible, particularly since certain auctioneers choose to bypass the cost of an expert, thus lowering charges.

1. Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Il Guercino (1591-1666)
Saint George Fighting
the Dragon
, c. 1637
Sanguine - unspecified size
Resurfaced on the
Parisian art market

2. After Giovanni
Francesco Barbieri,
known as Il Guercino (1591-1666)
Saint George Fighting the Dragon
Oil on canvas - 190 x 159 cm
Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale
Photo : D. R. (domaine public)

Thus, today, 13 March, a red chalk drawing by Guercino, unpublished until now, and which had not been recognized by the auctioneer which presented the sale without a catalogue (ill. 1), was identified by several connoisseurs and underwent very high bidding [1].
The work, Saint Georges Fighting the Dragon, is especially interesting as it is preparatory for a painting which is lost today and only known thanks to a copy residing at the Pinacoteca in Bologna (ill. 2). The two compositions in fact show variations.
According to the archives published by Luigi Salerno (I dipinti del Guercino), the definitive work was commissioned in 1637 by the Abbot of Santa Francesca Romana in Ferrara and the final payment made in 1639.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mercredi 12 mars 2014


[1] We mention this discovery only because the price is after all almost the same as would have been the case had it been correctly identified. If it had been sold at a significantly lower price than its true value, we would not have discussed it : since the Poussin Pardo affair, we all know that in such a case, a knowledgeable buyer can be unfairly, even scandalously, deprived of his discovery by the law.

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