Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Sebastian Vrancx at Dorotheum: November or April? And has it been restored or repainted?

Dorotheum, from Austria, sells on 25 April 2017 a "Sebastiaan Vrancx" Month of November, estimated at 30,000 to 50,000 Euro.

This seems to be the cleaned version of an unattributed Vrancx I discussed in May 2016 which was then for sale with an estimate of 1,200 Euro and which I reckoned then should be worth 3,000 Euro. I don't know what that one fetched in the end, but the current estimate is way above that one.

In my original post, I showed the above two versions and specifically remarked upon the minor differences, like the boy not having an axe.

In the version for sale, the boy has an axe, and the arm of the man with the basket is no longer visible (dangerous things, these axes!). This matches now exactly the better version from my original post (even the cords hanging from his arm have miraculously multiplied). But every other detail in the work for sale seems to match the work I blogged about in 2016 (and not the better version I showed then as well), like the  colour of the socks of the boy on the far left (grey instead of purple), the man with the sword walking away from us on the far right (grey-white instead of blue with yellow socks), the decoration of the house above his head (done more crudely ijn white, instead of the yellow stone colour), ... Even the craquelure, the damage to the glaze at the top (the clouds) is the same.

Underneath the arm of the boy with/without the axe, there is a particularly damning detail. In the "better" version from the previous blog, the boy continues on both sides of the arm (bottom image): but in the two versions for sale (then (top right) and now (top left)), we have the same very awkward shift between the upper torso and the legs, which simply don't fit.

Both also have an incorrect mention of "November" on the back, while the depiction is clearly of Spring (or April), with the fresh green on the trees and the erection of a Maypole.

The work for sale now is clearly worth more than my too cautious estimate of 3,000 Euro, but I have to wonder whether the significant changes are things which have been revealed when newer layers have been removed, or things which have been added by an enthusiastic "restorer" to make it look more like the "better" version? I hope it is the former, but my gut instinct tell me that it is the latter (at least the two nasty scratches, across the largest figure top to bottom, and left to right towards his left leg, have been repainted); but whoever wants to bid for this better first informs themselves of the actual restoration.

The actual value of this work depends on what happened to the work and how much the bidders know and care of course.

No comments:

Post a Comment