Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Masterpiece of Johannes Spilberg at auction in Prague

Hejtmanek, from Prague, the Czech Republic, sells on 1 December 2016 a "Johann Spilberg, ca. 1650" Judith and Holofernes, a large canvas (192 by 152 cm) estimated at 260,000 Euro.

Contrary to my usual posts, I have nothing to correct or add to this, I just wanted to bring this major work to the attention of art lovers who don't normally look at Czech auctions.

Johann or Johannes Spilberg (1619-1690) was German, but got his education in Amsterdam where he produced arguably his best work (he was meant to be  pupil of Rubens, but arrived in Antwerp just when the master had died). A student of Govert Flinck, he was a classical Rembrandtian painter. His best work was produced between 1640 and 1650 and is relatively scarce on the market.

His largest work was created in Amsterdam in 1650 for the guild of shooters, in the tradition of the large works by Rembrandt and Hals. This work of nearly 3 by 6 metres is now on display in the Amsterdam Hermitage.

The work for sale now is one of the largest and most impressive to come onto the market for years, and has an impeccable provenance:, as it was part of the English Royal Collection from the time of Charles II until 1894, when it went to the collection of Tsar Nicholas II.

The above "Jael" is a 1644 work from the Gemaldegalerie in Berlin. Less elaborate, it is perhaps more accomplished and enticing, but then again it is his best work I could find. 

What's this Judith worth? The estimate seems fairly conservative for a work most museums of Old Master paintings would love to have. It would probably have been worth more if Judith had been more undressed or more fierce, but it still is an exceptional chance to acquire a work of this scale and quality from this rare painter.

UPDATE: sold for 350,000 Euro (430,000 Euro costs included), clearly above estimate, and apparently the fourth highest price an Old Master ever fetched in Czechia. Nice!

1 comment:

  1. This is a great piece of art sale for auction. Have you been to a lot of Czech auctions lately? I try to observe how auction goes every now and then since I'm still a novice on this.