Sale of Italian drawings from the Horvitz collection at Sotheby’s New York

1. Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770)
The Nativity
Pen and brown
ink and wash - 39.3 x 28.4 cm
Horvitz Collection, sale Sotheby’s
New York, 23 January 2008
Photo : Sotheby’s New York

19/01/2008 — Art Market — New York — Jeffrey Horvitz is no doubt the best known American collector of Old Master drawings today. The French holdings are very famous, as revealed by the exhibition of some of the best works which traveled around the world (Toronto, London, Edinburgh, New York) in 1999. In an interview published in the catalogue Mastery of Elegance, Horvitz spoke of the group of his Italian drawings as a more personal collection which, unlike the French ones, does not intend to be exhaustive. The criteria in selecting them, besides his own taste, was their quality and good condition. Thus, he did not hesitate to include several works by the same artist, as shown by the large number of drawings by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (ill. 1).

It is this Italian collection that will fall under the auctioneer’s gavel at Sotheby’s New York next 23 January. Horvitz explains why he put them up for sale at the beginning of the catalogue, saying how difficult it was to make the decision but that he wishes to devote himself entirely to French drawings. No matter what the reason, the event is sure to make history since it is extremely rare to find such an extensive number of major works on paper in one sale. Some will escape being scattered, as they have been promised or already donated to musems, notably the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard, which will most likely receive the French collection one day.

2. Lelio Orsi (1511-1587)
Apollo Driving the Chariot of
the Sun

Pen and brown ink
and gray-brown wash, heightened with white -
21.4 x 31.1 cm
Horvitz Collection, sale Sotheby’s
New York, 23 January 2008
Photo : Sotheby’s New York

The sale includes 105 drawings, few of which are anonymous or of debatable attribution. Almost all of the works are exceptional and are truly striking. Let us point out some of the more spectacular ones such as Diana and Apollo Killing the Children of Niobe a red chalk by Pirro Ligorio, Briseis Leaving Achilles’ Tent by Giuseppe Cades and especially the extraordinary Apollo Driving the Chariot of the Sun by Lelio Orsi (ill. 2). Obviously, Jeffrey Horvitz appreciates accomplished drawings. Many have complex and elaborate compositions : The Holy Family with Saint Ann and Saint John the Baptist by Paolo Farinati ; Saint Peter,Martyr by an anonymous XVIth century artist from Emilia and a project for a plate, Neptune and Amphitrite Surrounded by Sea Gods and Putti by Cosimo Ulivelli.

3. Carlo Urbino (Active 2nd half
XVIth century)
Seated Draped Figure Seen
from Below

Black and white chalk - 32.5 x 22.3 cm
Horvitz Collection, sale Sotheby’s
New York, 23 January 2008
Photo : Sotheby’s New York

There are also isolated and finely-worked figures, sometimes squared for transposing onto a canvas or the ceiling for which they were being prepared : Carlo Urbino, Seated Draped Figure Seen from Below (ill. 3), a study for the cupola of one of the chapels in the church of San Marco in Milan or a rare preliminary drawing by Sassoferrato for Saint Joseph Holding the Christ Child. Pen sketches are rare but masterful such as the very beautiful Saint Jerome by Agostino Carracci and a study of Two Standing Women and a Reclining Male Nude by Annibale Carracci.
The catalogue resembles that of a museum exhibition. There is no doubt that curators from around the world will gather on 23 January at Sotheby’s in the hopes of securing one or more works for their institution and will provide us with a chance to review the purchases in future News items.

4. Georges de La Tour (1593-1652)
Saint James
the Great

Oil on canvas - 65 x 52 cm
Sale Sotheby’s New York, 24 January 2008
Photo : Sotheby’s New York

5. Donatello (c. 1386-1466)
Virgin with Child (
San Felice Madonna
Painted and
gilded terracotta - 85.8 x 68 cm
Sale Sotheby’s New York, 24
January 2008
Photo : Sotheby’s New York

In concluding, and to be exact, let us remind our readers that sales will continue on the afternoon of 23 January with another auction of drawings which include several works on paper from the Rembrandt school. As for the paintings and sculptures to be sold the next days, still at Sotheby’s New York, illustrated in two enormous catalogues, they include some important French canvases (one of the Apostles from the series for Albi painted by Georges de La Tour – ill. 4 – and a landscape by Claude) as well as several Sixteenth century Neapolitan paintings including one by Mattia Preti, David Playing the Harp for Saul. Among those works which will probably draw record prices, there is also a sculpture, Virgin with Child in terracotta by Donatello (ill. 5).

6. Jean-Baptiste
Hilair (1753-1822)
Portrait of Sultan Abd-Ul
Hamid I

Watercolor and
bodycolor - 68.5 x 50.5 cm
Sale Christie’s
New York, 24 January 2008
Photo : Christie’s New York

On the other hand, Christie’s New York maintains a low profile at the beginning of the year with only one sale for drawings, 24 January, with few masterpieces, except for a large watercolor wash representing the Portrait of Sultan Abd-ul Hamid I by Jean-Baptiste Hilair (ill. 6) and a work by Jean-Francois Millet depicting The Knitting Lesson. Also at Christie’s, there are some drawings by Tiepolo from the William H. Crocker Collection, founder of the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.

Version française

Didier Rykner, samedi 19 janvier 2008

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