Deal done for Rembrandt, “Caravaggio villa” flops and other market news

Deal done for Rembrandt, “Caravaggio villa” flops and other market news

Rembrandt — The Standard BearerCaravaggio — Jupiter Neptune and Pluto — 1597–1600Ammi Phillips — Woman with pink ribbons

From the confirmation of the acquisition of Rembrandt’s “The Standard Bearer” to no bids for the villa containing the only wall painting by Caravaggio, art market news from the third week of 2021.

Images: Rembrandt: “The Standard Bearer”, 1636 ·· Caravaggio, “Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto,” 1597–1600. ·· Ammi Phillips, “Woman with Pink Ribbons,” c1833.

The purchase that everyone thought was a done deal has finally been confirmed. The Dutch Senate has approved the purchase of “The Standard Bearer”, one of Rembrandt’s great works in private hands, for about € 175 million, 10 more than announced a few weeks ago. The sale has not been without controversy, since the acquisition of the work (from the Rothschild family collection) has been made through a trust located in the Cook Islands.

But beyond these more or less debatable payment methods, is it wise to pay this figure for the work of an artist who is already very well represented in the Dutch national collections? Especially when the art market has in recent years offered several opportunities for acquisitions that could complete the Dutch national collections in a more remarkable way than this self-portrait of the artist? Of course, no one disputes the importance of “The Standard Bearer”, but in recent weeks highly questionable statements have been made to justify the acquisition. Taco Dibbits, Director of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (the painting’s most likely destination), declared that “The Standard Bearer” is “an unparalleled work by the master: it is when Rembrandt became Rembrandt!”. Enthusiasm is always to be applauded, but Rembrandt was already Rembrandt when he painted, for example, “The Feast of Balthasar”, a year before “The Standard Bearer”. Even more surprising are the statements of Gunay Uslu, Minister of Culture, indicating that “there is no other work from Baroque period in the Netherlands collections”, a sentence to which it is difficult to find a meaning that matches reality.

From the master of the Dutch Baroque to the master of the Italian Baroque. The so-called “auction of the century” by the Italian media, the sale of the Casino dell’Aurora on the Via Veneto in Rome, which contains the only mural painting by Caravaggio, has been deserted because the minimum starting price, set at €353 million, was not reached. The auction will be repeated in April, lowering the starting price by 20%.

In more modest figures, Christie’s organized this week two auctions of American paintings. The January 19 auction was highlighted by Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902), whose “In the Yosemite” fetched $786,000, while “On Route to Yellowstone Park, Company A’s Camp of the 86th U.S. Army” realized $400,000, more than double its most optimistic pre-sale estimate. Our article of last December 24 indicated that one of the potential “bargains” of the auction was “Summer Sea,” an excellent seascape by William Trost Richards (1833–1905), which had a pre-sale estimate of $50,000 to $70,000, and was finally sold for $106,250, still a modest price for a work of this quality.

On January 20, it was the turn of the Peter and Barbara Goodman Collection, which featured “Woman with Pink ribbons” by Ammi Phillips (1788–1865), one of the most original figures in 19th century American art. Described by Christie’s as “vibrant, minimalist and mesmerizingly beautiful,” the painting — which had a pre-sale estimate of between $800,000 and $1,200,000 — was sold for $3.87 million, a new record for the artist. #2022 #ArtMarket #theartwolf

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