Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A collection of trompe-l'oeils in 10 lots at Vanderkindere

Vanderkindere, from Belgium, sells on 27 March 2018 some nice trompe-l'oeil paintings, presumably from one collection. I like trompe-l'oeils anyway, and there are some rather unusual ones amongst the collection here.

The first one is of the "broken-glass" type, pretending to be an engraving which has fallen down, and where the protective glass is broken. It is only estimated at 300 to 400 Euro, but it isn't the most refined example of its kind. The best examples of the kind are by Etienne Moulinneuf (1706-1789), but this is an anonymous example. I can't find any reference to this engraving, it may be an invented one for this painting. The signature or text at the bottom references an "Abbé Bousquet", but I can't find any abbot Bousquet who meddled with this kind of thing either. The estimate seems about right.

UPDATE: sold for 1900 Euro, 6 times the estimate!

The second one is a lot more special, and may interest a wide range of collectors. It is a post-1790 trompe-l'oeil dedicated solely to the short-lived Belgian (or Brabantian) revolution of 1790, where the Southern Netherlands attempted to free themselves of the Austrial rule, and which was seen as a precursor of the Belgian independence struggle of 1830. It is estimated at 500 to 700 Euro. The type of trompe-l'oeil is the standard "board with some papers and illustrations attached" version, but the contents are highly unusual.

UPDATE: sold for 1,400 Euro, nearly three times the estimate but not as much as I hoped for.

Left and right, we have the coloured portraits of the two leaders of the revolution, Hendrik Van der Noot (1731-1827) and Jan Frans Vonck (1743-1792). Both portraits are known engravings, though usually uncoloured.

Right of Van der Noot, we have the titlepage of a pamflet printed in 1790, "Reflexions d'un patriote de Mons a ses concitoyens. 1790" (Thoughts of a patriot from (the Belgian city) Mons for his con-citizens. 1790", a text clearly based in the spirit of the French revolution as well. It is a rare book, which can be seen at Google Books.

Underneath the Van der Noot portrait, and to the right of the Mons page, are two depictions of the very rare coins which were minted at the time. Especially noteworthy is the Lion d'argent, which sells for 500 Euro or so nowadays (the "Lion d'or', of which only a few thousand copies were made to begin with, is still a lot more valuable). The other two coins shown are the Liard and 2 Liard, which were the more common coins (but which are still rare enough nowadays, selling for 100 to 200 Euro).

At the bottom left is a letter sent by Van der Noot to a brewer from Brussels, De Noter, who was also involved at a rather high level with the organisation of the revolt. The letter is in Dutch, showing the Flemish undercurrent in this revolution, unlike the more Francophone 1830 revolution.

To the right of the letter is a coloured depiction of an "Amusette Liégeoise" or "Little Amusing from Liège", a typical weapon from the period. The image (uncoloured) can be found in a 1791 book titled "Mémoires Militaires pendant la Révolution de 1790".

On top of it is a pamphlet called "Aux Belges". I haven't found an original for this one.

And finally, underneath the Vonck portrait, is part of a map of a battlefield or something similar. I again haven't found an original for this.

The whole is painted with great precision and immaculate detail. The actual trompe-l'oeil effect, the 3D effect as we would call it now, isn't the most convincing (though pretty good nevertheless), but the artist seems more concerned about getting the documents right in the first place.

Considering the dates of the recognised documents, it may have been painted very shortly after the revolution, although it may also have been created after the 1830 revolution to commemorate the earlier attempt at independence and the "heroes" of that episode.

I haven't found any other similar work (a few trompe-l'oeils commemorating the French revolution, but not of this quality or historically important iconography).  Estimating such a one-off is difficult, but even purely on artistic merit this one is not expensive, and because of the interest it will have for history buffs, numismaticians, Belgicists, ... it may fetch a lot more. One to watch!

The third one is a "Perpetual calendar" decorated with a trompe-l'oeil! The work, estimated at 300 to 400 Euro, is signed by a Jacob Andreas Eisenman from Nuremberg, and one of the documents has a date of 1779, but I haven't found further information on the artist. It isn't the best trompe-l'oeil in itself, but the combination with a perpetual calendar (or with any moving elements at all) is new to me. It should be worth closer to 1,000 Euro for lovers of calendars or of the quirky.

UPDATE: sold for 800 Euro, more than double the estimate and about what I expected.

It has 4 "moving" elements making up the calendar: the year at the top, the day in the middle, the month at the bottom, and then some illustration which looks to be variable as well on the right.

As it has changed compared to an image from the previous sale in 2001, it is clear that this is a moving part as well. I haven't found the result of that sale though.

A fourth lot of trompe-l'oeils has two fake Teniers engravings and one fake image of a bird. Nothing exceptional here, only estimated 400 to 600 Euro for the three though.

UPDATE: unsold

The fifth lot is a bit rarer and has two "damaged" works of art. The auctioneer attributes it to Germany, 18th century, and I have no reasons to doubt this. Estimated at 400 to 600 Euro. Not particularly well painted, so probably not worth more either.

UPDATE: sold for 600 Euro.

The sixth lot is another more common and mediocre version. Nice to see an engraved portrait of Cornelis de Vos in it though. There is also a seventh lot of four further examples. The eight lot has two religious trompe-l'oeils by Crijn van Zuyderhoudt from 1777.

UPDATE: 6th and 8th unsold, 7th sold for 600 Euro.

Lot nine is a simple but nice example by Amedeo Seyter. This one seems to be severely underestimated at 300 to 400 Euro. Similar works fetch between 4000 and 18000 Euro elsewhere. It has condition issues though: the "scagliola" (fake marble) support is cracked, and the drawing is dirty. Even so, this is a rare thing and a highlight in this selection. A much larger one sold at Sotheby's in 2012 for £21,000.

UPDATE: sold for 1200 Euro, 4 times the estimate.

The tenth and final lot is a gravure trompe-l'oeil. Estimated at 300 to 400 Euro, which seems a bit high for a fairly common work which was recently sold for 180 Euro.

UPDATE: sold for 2,700 Euro, way more than I expected.

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