Monday, June 4, 2012

Metropolitan Museum Quietly Shuttles 12 Old Masters to Christie's for Auction

Master of Brunswick Dyptich, "Virgin and Child with Sts. Mary Magdelene
and Dorothy"
In a quiet move, the Met has consigned a dozen Old Master paintings -- including some by major artists -- to Christie's for auction on June 6.

The consignment has not been announced by the museum.  At the auction house, though, the paintings are displayed in their own gallery with the large label "Property from the Metropolitan Museum of Art."

Jordaens, "St. Ives Receiving Supplicants"
The Met cache has some of the best artworks up for bidding in this sale, among them a small oil sketch by Jacob Jordaens, one of the most important Flemish painters and certainly the most important in Antwerp after Rubens died.  The Met has two paintings by Jordaens on more or less permanent display, but regrettably the sketch has not been shown with them, at least not in recent memory, and the opportunity to see all of them together now seems foreclosed.

Robert, "The Ruins"
The Met is also willing to part with a pair of remarkable paintings by Hubert Robert that many museums would be proud to display.  The Met owns several works by this late18th-century artist who specialized in painting the ruins of Rome, so the Met could rationalize that a couple are expendable.  But it's a surprise to see that it is these two that are offered -- they are in an unusual round format and thus unlike anything else that the museum owns by this artist.

The auction is estimated to bring between roughly $1.8 and $2.7 million to benefit the Met's acquisition fund for European paintings.

Here are the other Met offerings of note:

Circle of Rembrandt
Pieter Breughel the Younger, "The Whitsun Bride" and "The Bird Trap."  Christie's is selling the latter as autograph, while noting that Met curator Walter Liedtke considers it workshop.

Master of the Brunswick Dyptich, "Virgin and Child with Sts. Mary Magdalene and Dorothy."

Circle of Rembrandt, "Young Girl in an Interior," a beautiful small painting that came into the museum attributed to Rembrandt himself.

Pieter Breughel the Younger, "The Whitsun Bride"

Text and images (c) 2012 Laura Gilbert.