Monday, January 27, 2014

Hazy Morning

Hazy Morning - Golfo Aranci - Sardinia
by Edward Seago (1910-74)
Oil on board, 30.5 x 39.5 cm
Originally a gift from the artist to Oliver Rosenorn-Lanng, who established the Costa Smeralda resort for HH The Aga Khan.

From the Bonhams catalogue:

In 1968 Seago bought Sa Conca, an apartment at Porto Cervo on the Costa Smeralda in the north of Sardinia. The attraction not only lay in the sunning location, but in the villa's terrace view of the harbour, providing a continuing source of subjects and inspiration. The year he moved there was an important one with his first exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery, but Porto Cervo was a place where the artist could relax and his mood is reflected in the paintings produced there, where an easy confidence comes to the fore.

Seago tended to concentrate on scenery when he was in Sardinia, the present lot being a good example of these unpopulated landscapes and seascapes where capturing the subtle Mediterranean light is his primary objective. Golfo Aranci is just down the coast from Porto Cervo and would have been easily reachable by the boat Seago owned. He was known to use photographs as part of the process of painting these landscapes; these worked as a compositional aid, but the paintings are defined by their subtle palette. As James W Ried writes in "Edward Seago The Landscapre Art" (Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd, London 1991), 'These vignettes of sea, sky, rocks and sand become comtemplative solilioquies, devoid of those fishermen, beach-goers and children which animated his earlier beach scenes of England, Spain and Portugal. These are moments for meditation, and for eulogies to nature's majesty'.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Pigalle's Mercury by Niels Christian Hansen (1834-1922), c.1890
Charcoal and pencil, 48.5cm x 82 cm
from the recently discovered portfolio of works in Berlin, from Auctionata, Berlin.

From their catalogue description: Niels Christian Hansen, a portrait painter from Copenhagen, left his photo studio in Copenhagen in 1889 and presumably went on a "Grand Tour" to visit continental Europe's museums. He made studies of all the important sculptures and busts and amongst them also the beautiful sculpture of Mercury attaching his winged shoes. Originally created by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (1714-1785) in 1748 to enter into the Académie Royale, the sculpture had been a huge success and immediately got copied many times over. Hansen's drawing fascinates through its extreme detail. 

N. C. Hansen studied at the Royal Danish Academy for Arts in 1851 and started working as a portrait painter in 1855/56. During this time, photography began to rise and Hansen, instead of fighting the new medium, adapted to it. He joined a partnership with a photographer and soon their company Hansen, Schou & Weller became the most famous photo studio in Copenhagen. They took pictures of all the important people of their time and many of their photographs can today be found in the most exclusive portrait collections worldwide.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hong Kong Island and Victoria Harbour

Hong Kong Island and Victoria Harbour, Chinese School C19th, c.1858-1875
oil on canvas, 45x79 cm
From the Bonhams catalogue, (hereunder): A late 19th-century traditional representation of Hong Kong Harbour at the zenith of its history as a storage and distribution outpost for Western traders en route to and from southern China. Amongst the traffic of vessels visible on the water are a prison hulk, paddle steamer, a ship flying the American colours in addition to a plethora of Chinese, European, commercial and fishing boats. The vessel flying a blue ensign in the left foreground can plausibly be identified as the Royal Naval warship, HMS 'Princess Charlotte', which was deployed as a 'receiving ship' in Hong Kong Harbour between 1858-1875, providing temporary accommodation for sailors not yet assigned to a particular crew.

The city of Victoria can be seen from the north, across the harbour, from the Kowloon Penninsula. The 'godown' of Jardine Matheson and Company - the dominant trading enterprise along the Chinese coast - is visible on the far left. On the summit of Victoria Peak, the grouping of flags indicates the presence of the Hong Kong Signal Station, the construction of which marked the first building on the Peak in 1861.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Emilia Charlotte Lennox

John Hoppner RA (British 1758-1810), oil on canvas, 30" X 25", Portrait of Emilia (Emily) Charlotte Lennox (December 1763 – 19 October 1832): Daughter of General Lord George Lennox, second son of the Duke of Richmond. Half figure portrait, wearing bluish green dress with black lace shawl. Unsigned. Provenance: Collection of Rodolphe Kann, Paris, Samuel S Joseph Esquire, London, from M. Knoedler & Co. Inc. New York. Purchased from collection of Mrs. John E. Rovenski, formerly Mrs. Morton F. Plant. Purchased at public auction, January 1957, Parke Bernet Galleries Inc. 980 Madison Ave. New York, p 96 Lot 453. Also on p. 279 depicted in her home. Label on verso from Thomas Agnew & Sons, London. Carved wood gilt frame.

Sold at Sotheby's Old Master & British Paintings sale 4 December 2014. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Vision of Cathay

Marciano Baptista (1826-1896), watercolour, "Vision of Cathay" (British Installation on Hong Kong Island, c. 1841). Buildings on the promontory of East Point are the first residence of the taipan of Jardine Matheson. (Davis Galleries, New York). (Provenance: The estate of a prominent Philadelphia collector and previously in the collection of Sir Bruce Ingram.) Period gesso gilt frame. 9"h x 13"w - image; 20 1/2"h x 24 1/2"w - frame.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pair of Overmantel Landscapes

James Ross (British, c.1700 - c.1760), pair of oil on canvas overmantel landscapes (c.1735), each depicting a landscape with rolling hills and figures, both signed lower left, 12 1/2'' x 39 1/4''.
Provenance: Estate of Walter Bott Loucks Jr., York, Pennsylvania.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Si Saket Series

Untitled Si Saket Series 2006, oil on canvas 110x130 cm, by Mitree Parahom.

From the catalogue of the exhibition by H Gallery Bangkok (2007), and H Gallery New York (2006):
Si Saket is the latest exhibition of paintings by Thai artist Mitree Parahom, born in Srisaket 1969. For his 15th solo exhibition, the graduate of Chulalongkorn University Bangkok presents 13 new paintings extolling the virtues of agrarian life in his native Isaan region of Thailand.

After almost a decade achieving domestic success in Bangkok, Mitree relocated to his family farm in the north-eastern ("Isaan") province of Si Saket, giving him closer proximity to the mainstay subject of his art. Distant from the capital's deliberated art climate, Mitree has relinquished the more stylised composite canvases of his early career, becoming purer and more direct in his tribute to agrarian kin.

In his most sincere paintings to date, Mitree's intimate portrayals of lowly Isaan farm folk reveal the humble dignity and camraderie of these rugged, rural cultivators. Despite physical hardship and the uncertainty of the weather, Mitree's paintings convey the famer's undeniable bond with nature.

Symbolically tethered to their labouring oxen, and attired in muddied clothing to protect them from the sun's ravages, the artist places his plebeian subjects against the vividly coloured flat plains and endless horizons that epitomise the Isaan landscape.

Just as Grant Wood's 1930s painting American Gothic paid an indelible homage to the provincial mid-western American farmer, Mitree's stooping depictions of agricultural labourers are iconic in the approbation of Thailand's unsung hero.