(n/a) Peter Oliver (British, 1589-1647) 'Venus and Cupid' Venus, seated in an upholstered chair, bare breasted, wearing blue armlet, pink and blue robes and yellow veil in her hair, attended by Cupid to her left, gilded border
Lot 25
(n/a) Peter Oliver
(British, 1589-1647)
'Venus and Cupid'
Venus, seated in an upholstered chair, bare breasted, wearing blue armlet, pink and blue robes and yellow veil in her hair, attended by Cupid to her left, gilded border
Sold for £14,400 (US$ 24,374) inc. premium
Auction Details
(n/a) Peter Oliver (British, 1589-1647) 'Venus and Cupid' Venus, seated in an upholstered chair, bare breasted, wearing blue armlet, pink and blue robes and yellow veil in her hair, attended by Cupid to her left, gilded border
Lot Details
(n/a) Peter Oliver (British, 1589-1647)
'Venus and Cupid'
Venus, seated in an upholstered chair, bare breasted, wearing blue armlet, pink and blue robes and yellow veil in her hair, attended by Cupid to her left, gilded border.
Watercolour on vellum, dated on the obverse in gold 1645, gilt-metal frame by James Seamer, 1705 with engraved border and pierced spiral cresting, the reverse engraved with monogram, JS (James Sotheby) and bearing City of Manchester Art Gallery label.
Oval, 94mm (3 11/16in) high
Provenance: James Sotheby, purchased 30 November 1703
by descent to Major-General Frederick Edward Sotheby, of Ecton Hall, Northampton
'The Sotheby Heirlooms', part I (The Highly Important Collection of English Portrait Miniature of the 16th and 17th Centuries), Sotheby's, 11 October 1955, lot 48, ill.opp.p.24
Exhibited: Burlington Fine Arts Club, Exhibition of Portrait Miniatures, 1889, p.61, no.12
City of Manchester Art Gallery

Footnotes

  • The present lot was described in the Sotheby's sale of 1955 as 'Venus and Cupid....a very large half-length, oval, most excellent' and indeed it was larger by an whole inch in height than the other two cabinet miniatures by Peter Oliver that preceded it in the catalogue at lot 46 ('The Head of St. John') and lot 47 ('The Penitent Magdaelene') (see Sotheby's, Important British Drawings, Watercolours and Portrait Miniatures, 6 June 2007, lot 150). Despite being described as 'very large', the present lot falls into a group of rare 'small' oval cabinet miniatures by Peter Oliver.

    Peter Oliver's cabinet miniatures were much desired by King Charles I, who, at the age of 16 made his first purchase from Oliver in the form of a limning entitled The Entombment. This work, started by Peter's father Isaac Oliver and finished after his death by his son contained 26 figures. Ten years later Charles commissioned Peter Oliver to produce copies of his most valued paintings in the form of cabinet miniatures within frames with lockable doors. Edward Norgate, in his Miniatura or the Art of Limning of 1627-28 describes the advent of the fashion for these larger miniatures in England: "Histories in Lymning, are strangers to us in England till of late yeares it pleased a most excellent King to command the copieing of some of his owne peeces, of Titian, to be translated into English Lymning which indeed were admirably performed by his servant Peter Olivier". Examples of this type of cabinet miniature can be found in the collections of The Victoria & Albert Museum and of Burghley House.

    The present lot was acquired in 1703 by James Sotheby (1655-1720), a London merchant. During his lifetime, Sotheby formed a collection of fine 16th and 17th Century miniatures, recording every acquisition in his meticulous notebooks. The present lot appears in his notebook on 30 November 1703 as "Paid Mr Wm Gibson for an oval miniature of Venus and Cupid by P. Oliver £10.0.0". It is not clear how the miniature was presented at this time, but 14 months later, on 21 January 1705, Sotheby's notebook records that he had "Pd. Mr. James Seamer, Goldsmith for ye Case, Cristal & co. of the Venus by Oliver £9.5.3". Colonel James Seymour or Seamer, goldsmith, banker, penman, engraver and collector is listed at (Three) Flower-de-Luce, near Serjeants' Inn, Fleet Street between 1693 and the year of his death 1739.

    Allowing for the juxtaposition of naked flesh alongside rich materials and jewellery, the so-called 'Toilet of Venus' is a recurrent theme in Western art history. To the Greeks and Romans Venus was the personification of every aspect of love, whilst Cupid was a mischievous child, responsible for inflicting both pleasure and pain on his hapless mortal prey. In the present work, he has laid aside his bow and arrows to help - or possibly hinder - his mother as she dresses. Standing at her knee, he plucks at her robes to expose her bare breasts to the viewer. Venus raises one hand to preserve her modesty, and her eyes are coyly cast down, but it seems unlikely that she will remonstrate too severely with her infant son. As the personification of feminine beauty, she knows that she exists only to inspire admiration and lust among men.
Auction information

This sale is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future sales, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this sale, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £50,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 the Hammer Price
12% from £1,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, check with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveler's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Credit card charges: a surcharge of 2% is applicable when using Mastercard, Visa and overseas debit cards.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Similar items