Canova’s Magdalena may not be one of the most valuable works of the auction season… But it will be one of the most important.

Canova’s Magdalena may not be one of the most valuable works of the auction season… But it will be one of the most important.

Antonio Canova — Maddalena Giacente — 1819–22

In July 2022, Christie’s London will auction Antonio Canova’s recently rediscovered “Maddalena Giacente” (Recumbent Magdalene), a work that carries a pre-sale estimate of between £5 million and £8 million

Image: Antonio Canova (1757–1822), “Maddalena Giacente” (Recumbent Magdalene), 1819–1822. Marble, 75 x 176 x 84.5 cm.

At a time when auction houses absolutely overuse the term “masterpiece”, it is unusual to see a work come up for auction that certainly deserves to be called a masterpiece, and even more unusual when such work carries a pre-sale estimate of less than $10 million.

Yet that will happen in July this year, when Christie’s brings Antonio Canova’s “Maddalena Giacente” to auction in London. Canova is, of course, one of the most important sculptors in the history of Western art, and the greatest genius of neoclassical art alongside Jacques-Louis David. And the “Maddalena Giacente” to be offered at the London auction is a work of remarkable importance, completed by the artist shortly before his death. In its pose and scale, it is inevitably reminiscent of Canova’s “Venus Victrix”, without however reaching the refinement of the famous work on display in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. Christie’s has published a statement by Dr Mario Guderzo, former director of the Museo Gypsotheca Antonio Canova, who describes the rediscovery of the work as a “miracle”.

Since the famous and extraordinary private sale of “The Three Graces” for £7.6 million in 1994 (then one of the highest prices ever paid for a sculpture), no comparable work by Canova has appeared on the market. However, other interesting but less important works have, such as the “Bust of Peace” (auctioned for £5.3 million in 2018), the bust of Joachim Murat (auctioned for €4.3 million in 2017), or a plaster figure of a wingless angel, offered at TEFAF in New York in 2017 for nearly $4 million. Given its importance, Christie’s published estimate for “Maddalena Giacente” seems very conservative, although it is true that the art market for pre-impressionist 19th century artworks remains inexplicably dormant. #2022 #ArtMarket #theartwolf

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ART & the Art World (theartwolf)

ART & the Art World (theartwolf)

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ART magazine aimed to offer an original & independent point of view about the Art World ▷ Its news, events, protagonists, glories and miseries.