Old Masters at Chiswick Auctions 4 – 15 July

Images above: Old Masters for sale at Chiswick Auctions 4 – 15 July 2022

Old Masters at Chiswick Auctions

Chiswick Auctions is holding an exhibition of Old Masters online, starting on Friday 1 July and ending Thursday 14 July at 1pm.

The paintings (part 1) and works on paper (part 2) are a “good mixture” of paintings, drawings and prints says Dr Albert Godetzky, Head of Department for European paintings, drawings and prints at Chiswick Auctions.

There are nearly 200 lots that are individually expected to fetch between £500 and £10,000. They range from 1540s, (a picture of a pope), to the early 20th century.

Image above: Two putti and a swan by Étienne de La Vallée Poussin (1735–1802) from the collection of Sir Robert Witt

Drawing from the collection of Sir Robert Witt, one of the founders of the Courtauld Institute

“As an art historian I am particularly pleased with the pieces from the collection of Sir Robert Witt” Albert tells The Chiswick Calendar, as it’s lovely to see his notes on them.”

Albert is a specialist in 16th-18th century Northern European art who worked previously at the Courtauld Institute, where he continues to teach as Associate Lecturer. Sir Robert Witt was one of the Institute’s founders in the early 1930s.

Witt gave a huge collection of drawings and a photograph art historical reference images to the Institute, among them this drawing of Two putti and a swan by Étienne de La Vallée Poussin (1735–1802).

“He took great care to preserve his collection of works on paper, conserving and beautifully mounting each drawing. Many of his mounts, including this one, feature his handwritten notes revealing his thoughts about attribution and subject.”

Image above:  Apollo in Parnassus by Sir James Thornhill (1675 – 1734), from the collection of Sir Lawrence Gowing

Painting by Sir James Thornhill, painter of the ceiling at Greenwich Naval College

There is also a painting on sale by Sir James Thornhill (1675 – 1734), who was responsible for the painted ceiling at Greenwich Naval College, which took nineteen years from the start of the commission to its completion in 1726 and has been described as Britain’s ‘Sistine Chapel’.

The painting on sale in the auction – Apollo in Parnassus, oil on canvas – is also a sketch for a ceiling, from the collection of Sir Lawrence Gowing, an art historian, educator and artist in his own right who was one of the Bloomsbury set. A drawing closely related to this oil on canvas painting is also being offered in the sale and likewise comes from Gowing’s collection.

Whose ceiling it was for is not known, but Thornhill worked for the royal family and members of the aristocracy.

His first commission was for the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and he went on to create decorative schemes at Chatsworth House, Blenheim Palace and several Oxford colleges as well as being commissioned to paint the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral and the bedchamber of the future King George II at Hampton Court Palace.

Image above: The Sandpits at Hampstead from the School of John Constable

Is it a Constable, or is it not?

Another of the paintings on sale in the Old Masters auction has a fascinating history, says Albert. The Sandpits at Hampstead, oil on canvas, was acquired in 1913 by the The Hackley Art Gallery, Muskegon, Michigan, from the eminent Chicago-based art dealers Moulton and Ricketts.

The dealers attached a label still on the back on the painting reading: “This oil painting entitled, Sand Pits at Hampstead, we strictly guarantee to be an original painting by John Constable.”

It was then featured (as Constable) in the important exhibition “A Survey of British Paintings” held at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, May 10–June 12, 1938. That label is also still on the back of the painting.

It was not until the early 21st century that the Hackley Art Gallery (now called Muskegon Museum of Art) looked into the attribution and, having doubts about the attribution, subsequently sold the work, raising funds for the museum.

It is now being being sold as from ‘the School of John Constable.’

To see all the Old Masters on sale, go to Featured Auctions on Chiswick Auctions website.

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This page is paid for by Chiswick Auctions.

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