Edited by: JV Staff
Heritage Auctions’ May 29 Fine European Art Auction in Dallas, Texas, brings together an exceptionally fine selection of 19th-century genre and academic painting, drawings and paintings by important early 20th-century European Modernists and a rich cache of Old Master prints by Dürer and Rembrandt. Drawn almost exclusively from private collections, many of the works have been off the market for two decades or more.
The star of the auction, Henri Le Sidaner’s ethereral La balustrade (Hampton Court), comes from the noted Chicago collectors of European Modernism, Elaine and Perry Snyderman. Le Sidaner’s La balustrade (estimate: $150,000-250,000) belongs to a series of 11 canvases which the French artist developed from life studies he painted in England in 1907, completed in the studio early in 1908, and first exhibited at Goupil Gallery in London, in March 1908. The exhibition created a wide critical stir, both in England and on the Continent. The series features the palace and gardens of England’s venerable Hampton Court, but as evocative dreamscapes — beautiful places glimpsed at dusk, or through the dewy atmosphere of morning, with glare refracting off the moisture in the air. La balustrade (Hampton Court) is the most avant-garde and abstract of the entire series.
Two fine works by celebrated French academicians, William Adolphe Bouguereau and his talented pupil Camille Félix Bellanger, are highlights of the French 19th-century offerings. Bouguereau’s Tete d’Italienne of 1872 (estimate: $60,000-80,000) once formed part of the distinguished collection of the eminent Pennsylvania Railroad attorney and his wife, Theodore and Mary Elizabeth DeWitt Cuyler of Philadelphia. The couple bought the bust-length painting during Bouguereau’s lifetime, as a contemporary work of art, and displayed it in their fashionable home at 1826 Rittenhouse Square. Following her husband’s untimely death in 1877, Mary Cuyler carried on his devotion to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and lent their prized Bouguereau to a special exhibition there, where it was exhibited under the title they had acquired it, Petrarch’s Laura. Bellanger’s radiant mythological subject, Daphnis and Chloe, shows the artist’s debt to Bouguereau in its smooth finish and riveting sense of stillness.
“The European auction is a genre painting powerhouse,” stresses Dr. Marianne Berardi, Senior European Art specialist at Heritage, “containing, as it does, top-notch work in beautiful condition by a host of highly skilled painters from across the Continent and the British Isles.”
Particular highlights include the spectacular scene by Adolphe Lesrel of lavishly dressed Renaissance women with their pages, seated on a terrace framed by Gothic spires, awaiting The return of the fleet (estimate: $20,000-30,000); Spaniard Lorenzo Valles’ magical At the Villa Borghese, (estimate: $12,000-18,000) in which elegant visitors are treated to the delights of the Borghese aviary of exotic birds; Pierre Outin’s flirtatious The Boating Party; British painter Sophie Anderson’s meticulously rendered subject of a woman in a dreamy natural landscape entitled At the Well (estimate: $12,000-18,000); and the Italian Cesare Tiratelli’s rustic scene of a peasant woman At the Kitchen Door.
One of the standout genre scenes is Frederick Bridgman’s important early-career work entitled De quoi parlent les jeunes filles (“Concerning what the young women are talking about”). Emerging recently after decades out of the public eye in private collections, Bridgman’s canvas (estimate: $20,000-30,000) features two young women sharing confidences as they enjoy an outing, rowing a boat together. It was one of two pictures which represented the young artist in the Paris Salon of 1870, at the beginning his career as one of the most celebrated Orientalist painters of the later 19th century.
Important Modernists working in a variety of styles and media are well-represented in the auction: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Marie Laurencin, Jacques Martin-Ferrières, Frédéric-Auguste Cazals, Marcel Dyf, and Georges d’Espagnat, among others. School of Paris figure Jules Pascin is richly represented with works from the Snyderman collection. Foremost among the Pascins is his 1928-19 portrait in oil on canvas of his longtime love, Lucy Krohg, entitled Lucy a Fontenay-aux-Roses, painted at the artist’s country home on the Seine.
Rounding out the auction is a fine selection of Old Master prints by Dürer and Rembrandt, many of them drawn from an important private Connecticut collection. Among the highlights are Dürer’s Saint Anthony reading (1519) (estimate $10,000-15,000) and Rembrandt’s first state of The star of the kings: a night piece, circa 1652 (estimate: $8,000-12,000).
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