Monday, 4 December 2017

Healing of the lame by Saints Peter and John

Carlo Bonte, from Belgium, sells on 13 December 2017 a "Southern Netherlands, 17th century" Healing of the lame by Peter and John, estimated at 6,000 to 8,000 Euro.

At first I was looking for an artist like Bartholomeus Spranger, who ha a similar femininity in some of his figures, curved like the Saint John is here, and whose angels and faces look similar as well. A drawing I found at the RKD seemed to point in the same direction. But the work had too many more Baroque elements to be satisfyingly attributed to Spranger.

Further research led me to an engraving by the very prolific Jacques Callot (1592-1635), a French artist who was influential throught Europe. The work for sale is a faithful but very good copy of the engraving, and in fact in many aspects improves upon the engraving (which is unusual).

Apparently the engraving was based on a painting by Ludovico Cardi (Cigoli) (1559-1613), for which I haven't found an original. The above two images are both said to be by Cigoli in online searches, but aren't good enough to be by him. The work for sale is a lot better, but when seen up close shows some less precise, more rushed sections, the kind of thing one would expect more in a copy than in an original. So perhaps this is a copy made by some rather good Flemish painter while on his Grand Tour?

Copies normally aren't worth a lot, but this one is good. If (and it's a big if) the original of the work is lost, then it might be worth even more as the best representation left of it, but usually for every copy I can find online a lot of others are still unavailable or much harder to find. It should be worth around the estimate.

If, by chance, this turns out to be the original after all (which isn't impossible, Cigoli isn't the most perfect artist and often has weaker parts in his works), it should be worth 30,000 Euro instead (not because a name is worth more than an anonymous work, but because an original is worth more than a copy).

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