Great exponents of renaissance, baroque and romantic painting on auction

From a private collection of genuine museum pieces, Setdart brings together in the Haute Epoque category masterpieces by leading figures from different periods and places: Italian Renaissance, Neapolitan Rococo, Madrid Baroque and Danish Romanticism.

Firstly, Portrait of a Girl, from the Italian school, belonging to a transitional period between the Renaissance and the Baroque, but in which the portrait formulas of the Cinquecento can still be appreciated.

The portrait is executed with a virtuoso technique and tight brushstrokes, making it a true piece of goldsmith’s work. This canvas can be compared to the portraits of royalty painted by the painter Sofonisba Anguissola. More specifically, it is worth comparing it with the portrait of Isabella de Valois, wife of Philip II, commissioned from the Cremona painter when she was her lady-in-waiting.

Note the stylistic and compositional similarities between the Setdart portrait and the one in the Museo del Prado: in both figures, the black velvet of their costumes is decorated with precious stones and gold thread trimmings. The snowy ovals of the face, illuminated by a subtle halo, are framed by a fine ruff and a diadem of rubies and gold. Even the posture of the figures and the gestures of their hands match: Isabella holds a portrait of her husband and the girl rests her hand on a bouquet of flowers.

Isabel de Valois sosteniendo un retrato de Felipe II en el Museo del Prado

Another piece worthy of being in a museum, and which is in fact on a par with a version of it in the Museo del Prado, is Portrait of Charles III, King of the Two Sicilies, by the Neapolitan Giuseppe Bonito. It depicts Charles III in military uniform, wearing a helmet and holding a flare. In the Prado painting the background is open to the landscape, while in the present work the focus is on the figure, which stands out against a neutral background. In both cases, the artist expresses the artistic brilliance of Neapolitan Rococo, of which Giuseppe Bonito was one of the greatest exponents. The imprint of his exquisite style is evident in the satin colours of the sumptuous velvet coat, the gold thread brocade and the fine lace on the sleeves.

The delicacy of his portraits opened the doors of the Neapolitan court to Bonito as a court painter. Around 1745 he painted portraits of Charles VII of the Two Sicilies, the future Charles III of Spain, and his wife Queen Maria Amalia of Saxony in portraits that are also in the Prado.

Wandering through the rooms of the Prado Museum, specifically in the rooms dedicated to 17th century Flemish painting. Here we find a collection of paintings with scenes featuring monkeys, a theme worked on by artists such as Pieter Brueghel and David Teniers the Younger. To the circle of the latter belong the two oil paintings on copper (“Costumbrist scenes with monkeys”) that are on offer in our fine period collection at Setdart. These interior scenes (monkeys eating, learning to play instruments, baker monkeys…) were used by the artists to ridicule man’s follies, but sometimes they also highlighted his more endearing aspects.

Continuing with the creations of chamber painters, we can see Juan Carreño de Miranda’s Lactancia de San Bernardo (“Breastfeeding Saint Bernard”), a theme that this distinguished painter of the court of Charles II treated with subtle variations in a painting preserved in the Museum of the parish church of the Collegiate Church of Pastrana. This oil painting, fully Baroque in style and execution, narrates the scene in the saint’s life in which the Virgin appeared to him to nourish him with her breast. A mystical triangle is established between Mary, the Child Jesus and the saint. The richness of the chromatic nuances, the luminosity of the break of glory and the tenderness of the plump cherubs are typical of the painter’s work.

Miranda had important ecclesiastical clients, such as Toledo Cathedral, as well as being a court painter. Today he is represented in the world’s leading museums, from the Hermitage to the Louvre and the Prado.

The Neapolitan still life school of the Baroque, highly appreciated within the antiquarian market, as well as among collectors and art historians, enjoyed a spectacular development, leaving behind the splendour of the 16th century and progressing within a fully Baroque style in which Gasparo López, together with Tommaso Realfonso and Nicola Casissa, occupied an unquestionable place.

A pair of vases by Gasparo López (nicknamed Gasparo Dei Fiori) is another of the pieces to be highlighted in Setdart’s current tenders on 20 and 21 February. The exuberant bouquets contrast with the simple parapets and vases that hold them.

We now change time and place to admire an iconic painting by the nineteenth-century Dane Harald Jerichau, The Plain at Sardis, Asia Minor. In theme and composition, this cornerstone of Danish Romanticism follows the same model as Jerichau’s 1878 painting The Plain at Sardis, now in the Statens Museum for Kunst in Denmark.

Harald made use of this view on numerous occasions and popularised the scene, which has become the cover of Birgitte Fink’s biography of the artist.

In both versions, the sublime landscape transcends Orientalist genre painting and takes on a subjugating atmosphere. The presence of the columns adds a documentary, almost Vedoutist element, but the warmth of the colours leads us into a panoramic view of an almost mystical mood, projecting a lyrical vision of Turkey.

The Plain at Sardes de Harald Jerichau en

As the last piece in our tour of the great works in our high-period gallery, all of which come from a private collection that was simmered over decades of painstaking research and careful selection, let us mention a singular pastel with an allegorical theme, from the French school and Rococo period, for which the painter was inspired by the still lifes of Johann Rudolph Feyerabend. Symbolism, trompe l’oeil and virtuosity are combined in this enigmatic still life.

Bodegones de Johann Rudolph Feyerabend

External references to Roman urns

Prado Museum