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    Saturday, February 24th, 2024
    Rembrandt van Rijn – The Laughing Man c. 1629-1630 COURTESY MAURITSHUIS, THE HAGUE

    Turning Heads: Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer opens today at the National Gallery of Ireland. Featuring works by Dutch and Flemish artists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the show explores tronies – intriguing paintings of heads. The exhibition features artists’ portrayals of the human face, its morphology, expression, and lighting around it. These works are to small and playful paintings of heads which became very popular in the early seventeenth century. Turning Heads traces the emergence of this historical art phenomenon from the sixteenth century to its heyday through the work of iconic artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Johannes Vermeer.

    Highlights include Vermeer’s Girl with the Red Hat, c. 1669, the artist’s smallest recorded painting. The work is filled with beautiful colourful details, and a highly sensitive use of light that reflects his fascination with optics. Rembrandt’s The Laughing Man, c. 1629-1630 is an example of how artists studied their own faces to apprehend its morphology and diverse expressions. Here, Rembrandt’s likeness can be seen in the grinning character of his painting. Rubens worked with a variety of models to study their features from different angles and with great observation. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp and the National Gallery of Ireland and it will run until May 26.


    Wednesday, January 24th, 2024
    Michael Sweerts – Head of a Woman, c.1654 – The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles will feature in an upcoming exhibition at Ireland’s National Gallery

    With a major exhibition of Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer opening on February 24 the National Gallery of Ireland announced today that it welcomed over one million visitors in 2023. This is the highest attendance number since 2017. Major exhibitions including Lavinia Fontana: Trailblazer, Rule Breaker as well as It Took a Century: Women Artists and the RHA and Lavery. On Location helped visitor attendance at the Gallery increase by 29% compared to 2022.   Vistiors found new acquisitions including La Vie des Champs (1876-77) by Paul Cézanne; Vase of Flowers with an Ear of Corn (1742) by Rachel Ruysch; Duft (1937) by Hannah Höch; and A Garden in France (1898) by Sir John Lavery. Exhibitions and displays included: Turner: The Henry Vaughan BequestJames Coleman: Still Life (2013 – 2016)St Dymphna. The Tragedy of an Irish PrincessPastel RevealedShelterZurich Portrait Prize & Zurich Young Portrait Prize; and Sarah Purser: Private Worlds.

    Turning Heads: Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer will run from February 24 to May 26 and will feature works by Dutch and Flemish artists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries who were exponents of the tronie – an intriguing painting of a head. Paintings include Study of an Old Woman by Rubens, The Laughing Man, 1629-1630, by Rembrandt and The Man with the Golden Helmet, c. 1650 from the circle of Rembrandt. Vermeer’s most exquisitely detailed tronie, Girl with the Red Hat, c.1665-1667, is an exhibition highlight. 


    Sunday, March 12th, 2023

    A Study of a Kneeling Man in Profile by Peter Paul Rubens will be among the highlights at Christie’s annual Old Master and 19th Century Drawings sale in Paris on March 22. Drawing inspiration from Caracci and other Italian greats this work is an example of the Italian influence that remained with Rubens long after his return to Antwerp. The delicate study was created using one of his favourite techniques, black chalk accentuated with white.   Drawings by Rubens rarely appear and this one was last on the market in 1867. The estimate is €250,000-€350,000.  The auction, with works spanning more than 400 years of European art, will coincide with the opening of the Salon du Dessin in Paris, the foremost fair dedicated to drawing and now a major international event. Image © Christie’s Images Limited 2023. UPDATE: THIS MADE €378,000 at hammer.


    Thursday, January 31st, 2019

    Sir Peter Paul Rubens’s Nude Study of Young Man with Raised Arms.

    There was a new world auction record for a drawing by Sir Peter Paul Rubens’s when Nude Study of Young Man with Raised Arms made $8.2 million at Sotheby’s in New York.  Considered one of the most important drawings by the artist to appear on the open market in over 50 years it more than doubled the high estimate of $3.5 million.  There was intense competition between two bidders at the morning sale of Old Master Drawings.

    Drawn by the artist shortly after his return to Antwerp from Italy in late 1608 and in preparation for his monumental altarpiece, The Raising of the Cross, the drawing provides the viewer with a fascinating insight into Rubens’s working methods, as well as the energy and vigor employed by the artist in his best drawings.  Throughout his life, Rubens made substantial, chalk figure studies, but his drawings of this type are at their most imposing and sculptural in these first years back in Antwerp. At this pivotal moment, Rubens made figure studies that are genuinely Michelangelesque.

    It formerly belonged to King William II of the Netherlands and his wife Anna Pavlovna, who together amassed one of the finest collections formed anywhere in Europe in the 19th century. While many of the works they owned now reside in major museums, both in the Netherlands and around the world, this drawing was among those that passed down privately through the family.


    Monday, March 19th, 2018

    Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) – Portrait of a bearded Venetian nobleman, bust length.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £5,416,400

    A rare portrait by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) will spearhead Sotheby’s Old Masters sale in London on July 4. Unseen on the market for 60 years, this remarkable depiction of a Venetian Nobleman was almost certainly cherished by the artist who kept it until his death in 1640. Acquired by the great Dutch collector Hans Wetzlar in the early 1950’s it has remained in the possession of his descendants ever since.

    Painter, designer, print-maker, sculptor, architect, diplomat, peace-treaty broker, at the helm of the largest studio of his time, Rubens was the first great artist-collector in Northern Europe and the fact that he almost certainly owned the present portrait until his death is testament to its importance.

    George Gordon, Worldwide Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Department, said: “Rubens is known as the “Prince of the painters” and his legacy is far reaching. His timeless modernity and immediacy is evident in this painting which encapsulates several strands of his creative, emotional and intellectual life. With its bravura brushwork which shows no hint of hesitancy, this is a portrait of a man as real to us as he was in the artist’s mind. Almost 400 years after being created, this is a painting that gives the viewer immense pleasure, and one in which we can feel Rubens’ own joy in creating it.”

    Painted in the 1620’s this is one of only a few portraits by the artist to come on the market in recent years. It is estimated in the region of £3 million.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £5,416,400


    Sunday, December 18th, 2016

    SIR PETER PAUL RUBENS (Seigen 1577-1640 Antwerp), Lot and his Daughters, circa 1613-1614. Courtesy CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2016

    THE MOST EXPENSIVE PAINTING SOLD IN EUROPE THIS YEAR – SIR PETER PAUL RUBENS (Seigen 1577-1640 Antwerp), Lot and his Daughters, circa 1613-1614 made £44.9 million. Courtesy CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

    Old Master sales at Christie’s in 2016 came to £152 million, doubling the auction sales total of 2015.  Classic Week, which ended in London on December 15, achieved a total of £47.8 million. This was a dedicated series of sales spanning Old Master Paintings, Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Antiquities, Japanese Art and private collections.  There was global participation with more than 1,200 registered bidders from 53 countries and substantial cross category buying. The entire classic week series achieved $272.3 million in 2016.

    Karl Hermanns, Global Managing Director, Old Master, 19th Century, Russian Art, said: “Classic Week in December concludes an outstanding year for the classical arts at Christie’s. Following its launch in April in New York and in July in London the new Classic Weeks series, complementing Christie’s innovative 20th-century weeks, have achieved for our clients significantly increased sales, cross-category bidders and new bidders. We are particularly encouraged by the number of 20th-century clients and Asian collectors participating in these sale. Classic Week auction sales were led by the masterpiece by Rubens, ‘Lot and his Daughters’, which achieved £44.9 million, the highest auction price for any work of art sold in Europe in 2016. Old Master and Victorian pictures also sold well alongside the best modern and contemporary art in the Defining British Art sale, the flagship event of Christie’s 250th anniversary. Christie’s also led the market in Old Master private sales, led by the historic sale of Rembrandt portraits, which sold to the French and Dutch states. Our specialists will continue to innovate and to inspire collectors with curated sales weeks of the highest quality. We look forward to hosting the next Classic Weeks in New York in April 2017 and in London in July 2017.”


    Friday, July 15th, 2016

    christiesThere were over 19,000 visitors to the various displays and auctions spanning  Decorative Arts, Antiquities, Old Master & British Paintings, Prints and Drawings, Books and Manuscripts and the Exceptional sale at Classic Week at Christie’s.  The week achieved a total of £109,038,888. There was a strong average sell-through rate of 87% by value across the 14 sales, with over 1,000 registered bidders from 50 countries, 695 registered online bidders and substantial cross-category buying.  The auctions were highlighted by Rubens’s masterpiece Lot and his Daughters, which at £44.8 million achieved the highest price for a work of art at auction this year.


    Friday, July 8th, 2016

    Three works of art from the Alfred Beit Foundation at Russborough House in Co. Wicklow, originally due to have been sold at Christie’s in London a year ago, were sold this week.  Venus Supplicating Jupiter by Sir Peter Paul Rubens sold for £1,314,500.  Two Views of Venice by Francesco Guardi each sold for  £164,500.  There was controversy over the sale by the Foundation, a charitable trust at runs Russborough, which led to its postponement.  The Trust said they needed the money for necessary repairs and maintenance.

    (See post on for May 1, 2015)


    VENUS SUPPLICATING JUPITER sold for £1,314,500

    Francesco Guardi - Piazza San Marco, Venice sold for £164,500

    Francesco Guardi – Piazza San Marco, Venice sold for £164,500


    Thursday, July 7th, 2016

    SIR PETER PAUL RUBENS (Seigen 1577-1640 Antwerp), Lot and his Daughters, circa 1613-1614. Courtesy CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2016

    SIR PETER PAUL RUBENS (Seigen 1577-1640 Antwerp), Lot and his Daughters, circa 1613-1614. Courtesy CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016

    Peter Paul Rubens’s Lot and his Daughters) achieved £44,882,500, the highest price ever achieved for an Old Master painting at Christie’s in London this evening. Painted c1613-14 it was sold to a collector on the phone in Christie’s Old Master and British Paintings Evening Sale, part of Classic Week in London. The hammer came down after a bidding battle lasting fourteen minutes.  There were four bidders involved. One of the most important paintings by the artist to have remained in private hands, it is an outstanding example of Rubens’s early maturity.

    “The sale of this significant painting demonstrates that Christie’s continues to lead the masterpiece market at auction and in this field. A stunning work of psychological complexity, Lot and his Daughters was created at a time when Rubens’s reputation as the most renowned artists in Antwerp had already placed him firmly at the centre of the European artistic stage.” said Paul Raison, Deputy Chairman, Old Master Pictures. Lot and his Daughters boasts a distinguished provenance, once forming part of the collections of wealthy Antwerp merchants; a Governor-General of the Spanish Netherlands; Joseph I Holy Roman Emperor; and the Dukes of Marlborough where it hung in Blenheim Palace and was sold in its original Blenheim frame. This biblical canvas illustrates the events after Lot and his family have fled the immoral city of Sodom having escaped to the desolate mountain town of Zoar.

    It was the second highest price ever paid for an Old Master painting at auction. The record is also held by Rubens whose The Massacre of the Innocents sold for £49,506,648 at auction in 2002.  The Old Master and British Evening Sale totalled  £65,390,100 achieving sell through rates of 93% by value and 77% by lot.  UPDATE: This turned out to be the highest price paid for a painting at auction in Europe in 2016.

    (See post on for March 11, 2016)


    Thursday, June 18th, 2015

    Sir Peter Paul Rubens – Portrait of a Bearded Man (£2-3 million) © Christie’s Images Limited 2015

    Sir Peter Paul Rubens – Portrait of a Bearded Man (£2-3 million) © Christie’s Images Limited 2015

    The Irish Antique Dealers Association (IADA) has come out against the proposed sale of eight works from the collection at Russborough House in Co. Wicklow at Christie’s. A statement from George Stacpoole, President of the IADA says it is in full support of any move to halt the sale of the Beit paintings. “The feeling of the Association is that, as these works of art were left to the Irish Nation, for the enjoyment of those living in Ireland and those frequenting Ireland, these international works of art should never have been allowed to be put up for sale”.

    They said that as the art was left as a gift to the nation and accepted as such the current government must bear responsibility of both the upkeep of Russborough House and the works of art housed within. “It must be recognised that these treasures are not only important for their unique values, but also as a source of revenue to the Irish State, as many tourists frequent Ireland just to see such wonderful treasures”.

    Works of art by Sir Peter Paul Rubens, David Teniers the Younger and Francesco Guardi are among the paintings from Russborough due to be sold at Christie’s in London in July.  The Alfred Beit Foundation said that the challenges in funding a house such as Russborough are immense.  Russborough needs a million euro a year to fund its operational costs. They say they are the owner of the relevant paintings, which were not left to the State by the Beits, and explored every other credible option before deciding on sale. As late as 2005, Lady Clementine Beit gave her personal collection of Italian bronzes to the Foundation with specific instructions that they be sold to help defray the costs of keeping Russborough open.

    (See posts on for June 11 and May 1, 2015).