NEW YORK — French and Italian masters will take centre stage in Bonhams upcoming May 8 European Paintings auction at the Madison Avenue salesroom. The offerings will include several notable Costume Paintings from the 19th century - a time when industry and technology were storming forward at a thunderous pace in Europe, leading artists to seek refuge in Romanticism, a style that originated in France before spreading to Italy, Spain, Germany and Britain.
Costume Painting is a variation on Romanticism wherein artists sought to transport their viewers to more elegant times through superb renderings of sumptuous interiors and finely detailed attire. Bonhams will offer several excellent examples on May 8, including the exquisite Vittorio Reggianini (1858-1939) work The Appreciative Audience depicting an enthusiastic piano player entertaining four blushing ladies in a parlour (est. $80,000-120,000). The composition, luxuriously appointed and resplendent with shimmering silks, epitomises the genre.
"The Appreciative Audience has everything Reggianini collectors are looking for," according to Madalina Lazen, Bonhams Senior Specialist in European Paintings. "The piece features gorgeous fabrics, glowing marbles, and expertly rendered expressions on all five figures. It really captures that feeling of nostalgic fantasy."
Other notable Italian offerings in this style include Francesco Vinea's (1845 – 1902) massive A Romantic Dream, showing a dozing maiden surrounded by cherubs experiencing a visit from a Prince clad in elaborate battle armour (est. $40,000-60,000). French artists are also represented, such as Joseph Caraud (1821-1905), whose painting The Suitor's Approval shows a nervous young woman being fitted for a glimmering pink silk dress ($6,000-8,000).
Another work featuring a dedicated depiction of period attire is Karl Karger's (1848-1913) Fronleichnam Prozession, Vienna, 1889, showing the Corpus Christi procession through the streets of Vienna (est. $30,000-50,000). Since the 17th century, the Austrian monarch and the entire aristocracy had taken part in the procession, giving Karger the opportunity to meticulously render the clothes worn by peasants, soldiers, clergymen and the upper classes all in one composition.
Of course, not every 19th century painting focused exclusively on the subjects' accoutrements. Bonhams will offer leading Barbizon School painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot's Douai, Glacis des Fortifications, Près la Porte Notre-Dame from 1854 (est. $150,000-200,000). The tranquil picture, featuring the loose brushwork and softness of form that characterise Barbizon works, shows Corot's friend the Dutch painter Constant Dutilleux peacefully working at his easel in a field.
"We are honoured to have been chosen to offer a comprehensive collection of European 19th Century paintings from the estates of noted Florida private collectors Marilyn and Milton Myers. The couple's connoisseurship and thorough understanding of painterly styles whether Italian, Spanish, Dutch or French was truly remarkable," commented Mark Fisher, Vice President, European Paintings Department.
Highlights from the collection include The Letter, a fine work by Spanish artist Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta (1841-1920) that eloquently captures an aristocratic woman, splendidly attired in lace and gold jewellery, intently listening as her companion reads a letter aloud (est. $40,000-60,000). Another special painting from the collection is A Mountainous Landscape with Figures and Cattle by a Valley Stream, by Dutch painter Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (1803-1862), (est. $40,000-60,000). Executed in 1855, the picture, swelling with golden light and punctuated by gently rendered figures with a fading castle in the distance, owes much to the tradition of 17th century Dutch artists.
Additionally, the sale will offer nearly 40 lots of Old Master works, a notable grouping of British equestrian scenes, and a significant collection of exotic animal paintings by Arthur Wardle and David Shepard.
Bonhams European Paintings sale will take place on May 8 in New York. The sale will preview at Bonhams San Francisco from April 19-21 and at Bonhams New York from May 4-7.
A fully illustrated catalogue is available at www.bonhams.com/auctions/20499/.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com