The Salome painting lost by Rubens could exceed £ 31 million at auction

A painting by Peter Paul Rubens that was believed to have been lost or misattributed for around 200 years should be ranked among the most valuable antique masterpieces ever sold when it goes up for auction next year.

Salome Presented with the head of John the Baptist was rediscovered in 1998 and will be auctioned at Sotheby’s in January. It is dated around 1609, when the artist returned to his native Flanders from his stay in Italy.

The artwork depicts Salome’s cautionary tale, popular in the early 17th century for its message to be wary of cunning and powerful women, and “fearlessly explores the violent and sexual dynamics of biblical fiction like a pre – cinematographic “, according to Keith Christiansen, the curator emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. “It’s the kind of painting that, once you see it, you won’t forget.”

The painting is from the same year as another great work sold at Sotheby’s in 2002, The Massacre of the Innocents, which at the time was the most valuable work of art to be sold in pounds and the most expensive ancient master ever sold to the world. auction for 50 million pounds. Although Salome is conservatively estimated at £ 31 million, enthusiasm among the auctioneers is high.

“Salome presented with the head of John the Baptist is one of the most intensely powerful paintings Rubens has ever made,” said George Wachter, the chair at Sotheby’s. “It’s not huge but it totally overwhelms you the moment you see it, both for the shocking power of the subject and for its sheer technical genius.

“Like the Massacre of the Innocents, which broke all records in 2002, is one of the key paintings that Rubens made after his return from Italy. Bursting with creative energy, he immediately embarked on what would become three of his greatest masterpieces: Samson and Delilah at the National Gallery in London, Massacre of the Innocents, now at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and this painting we will sell to January”.

Salome Presented with the Head of John the Baptist leads a group of 10 works from the collection of Rachel Davidson and Mark Fisch, which together rank as the best group of Old Master paintings to be auctioned in living memory.

They are all Baroque masterpieces, including Guercino’s Jacob Mourning Over Joseph’s Bloodied Coat, Giulio Cesare Procaccini’s Judith and Holofernes, key works by Bernardo Cavallino and Valentin de Boulogne, and the third of Orazio Gentileschi’s famous Sauli paintings, the other two I’m at the Getty Museum. Together, the 10 Baroque works are estimated to reach around $ 60 million when sold in New York and will be exhibited in London in December.

As a board member of the Met, Fisch was behind some of the museum’s largest acquisitions. He was also friends with Lucian Freud, to whom he would lend paintings for study and inspiration.

Christiansen said: “What sets the Fisch Davidson collection apart is the consistent level of quality of the paintings, combined with a willingness to embrace powerful subjects that smaller collectors may find ‘difficult’.

“There is nothing shy about these paintings… They are baroque paintings that speak with a contemporary voice. Their modernity lies in their psychological and inquiring dimension combined with a dramatic style, made with brilliantly descriptive brushstrokes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *