The Virgin Annunciate
January 11, 2012, source: Sotheby’s / theartwolf
The highest estimate in the auction goes to Canaletto’s "Venice, a View of the Churches of the Redentore and San Giacomo, with a Moored Man-of-War, Gondolas and Barges", painted between 1747 and 1755 (est. $5/7 million*). The canvas was originally conceived as one of a pair, which was sold at Sotheby’s along with its pendant – now in a private collection – in 1960. Both views display Canaletto’s customary attention to detail, and additionally demonstrate his strength in the depiction of motion, such as the gondoliers entering the composition at lower right.
The Canaletto may be the most expensive lot, but the most important work in the auction is without a doubt "The Virgin Annunciate", an exceptionally rare and beautiful panel by Simone Martini from the early 14th century (est. $3/4 million). The picture once formed part of the highly important Adolphe Stoclet Collection, which crossed multiple collecting categories including fine Egyptian antiquities, as well as works from ancient Mesopotamia, pre-Columbian Mexico, dynastic China, Japan and Africa. The Stoclet Collection also featured a number of important early Italian paintings, including Duccio di Buoninsegna’s Madonna and Child that was acquired by New York’s Metropolitan Museum in 2004.
Other highlights of the auction include "Still Life of Roses, Tulips, Peonies and Other Flowers in a Sculpted Stone Vase, together with a Bird’s Nest on a Stone Pedestal before a Niche", by Jan van Huysum, the leading Dutch still life painter of the 18th century (est. $4/6 million) and "Lucretia" by German Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach the Elder (est. $4/6 million).