Sotheby’s Amsterdam Old Master Paintings Sale

Sotheby’s old Master paintings sale will be held Tuesday 18 May 2010 in Amsterdam.

The Battle of Lepanto (lot 35) by Andries van Eertvelt (1590 – 1652) is one of the highlights.

The Battle of Lepanto took place on 7 October 1571 in the Gulf of Patras, off western Greece, and was perhaps the most significant sea battle in European history. It was fought between the forces of the Ottoman Empire, under Uluç Ali Pasha and those of the Christian Holy League (a coalition between Venice, the Papacy, Spain, the Republic of Genoa, the Knights of Malta and others) under John of Austria, at a time of growing Ottoman expansion in the west. The victory at Lepanto was a landmark in the history of western Christendom, for at one stroke it stemmed Ottoman expansion in the Mediterranean and prevented their influence from spreading west. The battle lasted for 5 hours and involved more than 400 galleys, a dozen galleasses (covert galleys with artillery) and over 60,000 fighting men, an unprecedented array of forces for its time. The large scale, the immense quantity of ships and the intensity of the presentation make this painting of the Antwerp born artist a truly impressive work of art. The painting from 1640 has an estimated price of €80,000 – 120,000.

Also featured in the sale is a representation of one of the most significant battles of the Thirty Years’ War, The Battle of Lützen (lot 41) by Jan Asselijn (1610 –1652). Although there were in fact more casualties on the Protestant side and it cost the life of the Swedish King, the Protestant armies succeeded in forcing the Imperial troops to retract. The battle was thus considered a Protestant Victory and became a favoured subject among artists in Protestant Holland. This work is typical of these early works, which are generally dated around 1634/35. Asselijn’s style shows a strong dependence on his master Jan Martszen the Younger (circa 1609 – after 1647), essentially continuing the tradition established by the latter’s uncle Esaias van de Velde (1587-1630). The painting has an estimated price of €50,000 –70,000.

A falconry still life with a dead partridge (lot 21) by William Gowe Ferguson (1633/34 – after 1695). This painting appears to be one of the most exquisite still lifes in the artist’s oeuvre. The subtle light falling on the uneven plaster wall gives the composition a convincing sense of depth, projecting the meticulously rendered birds beyond the picture plane towards the viewer. Two other game still lifes, signed and dated, are in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. The estimated value of the painting is €20,000 – 30,000.

A landscape with figures on a path near a country house (lot 58) by Aert van der Neer (1603/4 – 1677). is a relatively early work, datable to the mid-1640s. Aert van de Neer is famous for his poetic landscapes glimmering in dusk or moonlight. These sometimes depict country retreats to which rich merchants from the rapidly growing Dutch cities liked to retire as they were enjoined to do in contemporary literature to enjoy the idyllic rural solitude of the Buitenplaatsen celebrated in contemporary prints and poetry.

The painter portrays a landscape by day. A comparable painting, dated 1642, with a similar tonality, is in the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. The estimated price of the painting is €50,000 – 70,000. A beautiful Still life with flowers (lot 49) by Carstian Luyckx (1623 – after 1657). It is known that he stayed in his native town of Antwerp until at least the 1650s, and possibly even later. His preferred subjects consist of vanitas paintings, game pieces and flower still lifes, mostly containing garlands. They have been recorded in private Antwerp collections as early as 1652. The estimated price of the painting is €30,000 – 40,000.

The sale furthermore includes a large number of marine paintings by artists like Abraham Willaerts, Aernout Smit, Abraham van Beijeren, Sebastian Castro and Hendrick Staets.

Image: Andries van Eertvelt (1590 – 1652), The Battle of Lepanto, Estimate €80,000 – 120,000. Photo: Sotheby’s