Dutch Artists Turn to Gold at Bonhams Old Master Paintings Sale

London – A painting by17th century Golden Age Dutch painter David Teniers the Younger (Antwerp, 1610-1690, Brussels) illustrating the mysterious process of the transformation of base metal into gold, Interior of a laboratory with an Alchemist at work with a stuffed alligator hanging from a ceiling beam, sold for £529,500 at Bonhams Old Master Paintings sale in London on Wednesday 7 December 2022. The sale made a total of £1,814,858.

The painting was part of the Roy Eddleman collection, which was sold to benefit the Quantum Institute, University of California, Irvine. The goal of the Institute is to stimulate the discovery of new quantum science phenomena by developing collaborations between investigators in a broad range of scientific endeavours and to motivate future generations to study quantum science through educational and outreach activities.

Lisa Greaves, Head of Bonhams Old Master Paintings, said: “Teniers is known for his theatrical, intricate and complex scenes, and this was an exciting chance for collectors to acquire one of his earliest pictures on the theme of alchemy, a subject that was very popular with Dutch and Flemish artists of the time. It is clear that concepts like this, which blur the line between science and witchcraft, still fascinate us long after the mid-1600s, when Teniers produced this piece.”

A trumpeter at a casement window with another figure holding an upturned wine glass by Willem Van Mieris the Elder. Sold for £390,900
A trumpeter at a casement window with another figure holding an upturned wine glass by Willem Van Mieris the Elder. Sold for £390,900

A trumpeter at a casement window with another figure holding an upturned wine glass by another Dutch painter, Willem van Mieris the Elder (Leiden, 1662-1747), set a new world record for a work by the artist at auction. It achieved a total of £390,900, more than five times its estimate of £50,000-70,000. This early work was executed not long after he started collaborating with his father, Frans van Mieris the Elder (1635-1781). Works from this period typically employed the same technique and subject matter as that of Frans, with the same enamel-like smoothness and virtuosity in the display of detail. The elegant musician and drinker depicted in this picture were favourite motifs of the Leiden ‘Fine’ Painters, as was the perspective by which they are shown through a finely carved, arched stone window.

Other highlights of the 72-lot sale included:

  • Studio of Jan Brueghel the Younger (Antwerp, 1601-1678), An iris, tulips, narcissi, roses and other flowers in a bloodstone vase with a beetle on a table-topSold for £88,500 (estimate: £70,000-100,000).
  • Hendrick Martensz. Sorgh (Rotterdam, circa 1610-1670), A tavern interior with peasants drinking and smokingSold for £53,220 (estimate: £30,000-50,000).
  • Thomas Germain Joseph Duvivier (Paris, 1735-1814) An allegory of sculpture and architectureSold for £50,700 (estimate: £10,000-15,00).
  • William Williams (Norwich, 1727-1797, Bristol), The Iron bridge at ColebrookdaleSold for £45,660 (estimate: £20,000-30,000).
  • Dutch School, 1939, Portrait of a child, full-length, in white costume, with a male figurineSold for £38,100 (estimate: £15,000-20,000).
  • Théodore Géricault (Rouen, 1791-1824, Paris), The wounded Cuirassier. This preparatory sketch for the Le Cuirassier blessé, quittant le feu (The wounded Cuirassier), now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, was previously unknown and offers a significant and exciting insight into the working process of the young Théodore Géricault. Sold for £38,100 (estimate: £30,000-50,000).
Lisbeth Thalberg
Lisbeth Thalberghttp://lisbeththalberg.wordpress.com
Journalist and artist (photographer). Editor of the art section at MCM.
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