As Old Masters collectors and connoisseurs turn their attention to New York for the upcoming spate of sales, The Curator’s Eye is pleased to present, for private sale, a choice offering of fine old master paintings and sculpture. As part of its continuous online exhibition of the finest art and antiques from distinguished dealers across the globe, The Curator’s Eye (CuratorsEye.com) offers notable old master paintings and sculpture from English, French, and Italian artists the likes of Giovanna Garzoni and François Marot, among others.
Leading the offering is a colorful, vibrant Plate of Figs by Giovanna Garzone. This work belongs to the important suite of more than twenty fruitpieces the artist painted for Ferdinando II, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1621-1670). On 28 October 1662, Garzoni wrote to the Grand Duke to thank him for his generous compensation for her ‘miniature de frutti’, adding that she was enclosing ‘another Tazza (dish) to add to the twenty others’. This delightful plate of figs painted on vellum is one of only six still lifes from the original suite that are today in private hands.
The infant Jesus by Baccio Da Montelupo is a fine example of marble sculpture from the Italian Renaissance, carved in Florence circa 1550. In this white, shiny marble statue, which is currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the plump infant stands upright on a cushion, with its head turning slightly to the right. He holds a globe in his left hand and is making the sign of blessing with his right hand. Another sculpture of note, also from the Italian Renaissance, is a gilt-copper bust of a male saint made circa 1580.
François Marot’s Bacchus and Ariadne on the Island of Naxos is a fine example of a classic history painting, depicting a notable scene from Greek mythology. In the work, Bacchus, the God of Wine, and Ariadne, the spurned lover of the hero Theseus, are shown in an amorous embrace as Bacchus returns to Naxos from his campaigns in the east. The artist, François Marot, was born in 1666 and first exhibited work at the Salon of 1704 at the Academy in Paris. Active from the late seventeenth to the early eighteenth century, Marot was a member of a group of Parisian history painters including Antoine Coypel (to whom this work was once attributed), Charles de La Fosse, and Jean Jouvenet.
A striking oil portrait of a lady by Joseph Wright of Derby joins the group. In this fine work, the lady is effectively depicted in fancy dress reflecting the fashion of 18th Century society ladies to adopt historical costume for masquerade balls. Indeed, Horace Walpole commented in 1742, after seeing a masquerade given by the Duchess of Norfolk, on the “quantities of pretty Vandykes, and all kinds of old pictures walked out of their frames.” It is believed that Mary, Duchess of Ancaster wore this particular costume to a Masque at Ranelagh. She was subsequently painted by Thomas Hudson, who was Joseph Wright’s teacher, wearing the very costume. The popular portrait was engraved and published in 1757, leading to a number of society ladies being depicted in the same manner in works such as this one.
Joseph Wright made his mark on portraiture by refusing to idealise the features of his sitters, and instead exploiting the visually seductive effects of light playing on drapery. He exhibited a powerful directness in his portraits of industrialists like Sir Richard Arkwright. Wright was one of the most original and talented artists of his generation and his work has been appreciated continuously since its creation. Never previously exhibited publicly, this portrait is a recent and exciting discovery. It comes to the private market by direct descent through the Arkwright family.
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