Sunday, January 27, 2013

Metropolitan Museum Dumps 16 Old Masters at Sotheby's

Pedro Sanchez I, Christ Before Pilate (estimate: $120,000-$160,000)
The Metropolitan Museum is cleaning house again, this time deaccessioning sixteen Old Master paintings.  Truth be told, some of them you wouldn't want to hang in your own house, and most you wouldn't expect to see at a magnificent institution like the Met.

But there are a few I wish the museum would retain, especially the devotional triptych of Christ before Pilate by Pedro Sanchez I, a Seville artist active in the second half of the 15th century.  That it's survived intact is remarkable enough, but it also appears to be in excellent condition.

More important, it's an arresting image by an artist of great talent and compositional flair.  Look at Christ covered in blood from being tortured, wrapped in shroud-like drapery, and framed by individualized heads -- to say nothing of the rapidly receding floor.

I challenge anyone to name a single painting in the Met's European paintings galleries by a Spanish artist before El Greco.  Here's a prime example -- it doesn't fit the old-fashioned canon of "progress" in art as exemplified by the Italian Renaissance and Early Netherlandish painting, but it's marvelous.

Out of the Met's storerooms and onto the walls of Sotheby's

Text and photos (c) Copyright 2013 Laura Gilbert