Sotheby’s – Old Master and British Paintings Evening and Day Sales

November 29th, 2011 by

This December’s Evening Sale of Old Master and British Paintings is led by a pair of landmark Portraits by the artist Johann Zoffany. Painted in 1762, soon after the artist’s arrival in England, they depict the célèbre du jour David Garrick, the highly revered actor and theatre manager, in a rare moment of repose in the grounds of his Hampton Villa. They represent Zoffany’s first essay into the genre of the Conversation piece and have been part of the same distinguished collection since they were acquired in 1823 from the sale of the estate of Garrick’s widow.

A masterpiece of seventeenth century genre painting, by Jan Steen, leads the Dutch paintings category. It is a beautifully preserved and typically humorous Steen and, with it, one of the most technically dazzling examples of his art. Alongside it is one of the most important works by Jacob van Ruisdael to come to the market in recent years. It is unusually large and depicts the dunes before Haarlem, as evening approaches and the rains just passed, evocative of both Ruisdael’s fascination with nature as well as his mastery with the brush. A copper by David Teniers from 1647, when he was at the very height of his powers an artist,  depicts tric-trac players in a guardroom interior and completes the triumvirate of Dutch and Flemish masterworks.

Bernardo Daddi’s jewel-like Madonna and child enthroned, exquisite in its detailing, leads the Italian field and is supported by two other small devotional panels from early 14th century Florence, another Daddi and a portable triptych by Jacopo del Casentino. Complimenting these, from the 18th century, is a set of seven views of the island and harbours of Malta by Alberto Pullicino, the largest and most complete set to have survived from the eighteenth century and the only such set to have remained together since its acquisition or commission.