Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Seeking at Sotheby's

A friend who’s cultivating her picture collection alerted me this week (thanks, Shelley!) to an interesting source of images, the online auction site for Sotheby’s. This has images from both upcoming auctions and some past auctions, though I don’t know how long they stay up. She also notes that the search indexing is rather odd, so searches seem to turn up a lot of irrelevant material as well as what you’re looking for.

First, there are a couple of Big Red Rosary portraits. This portrait of a lady with a rosary is from a follower of our old friend Bartholomeus Bruyn (unfortunately, the color balance on this photo is really horrible, the portrait itself is hopefully much better).

The other one is an example of the by-now-familiar pair of married-couple portraits, and in this case both husband and wife are holding large coral rosaries in different styles. This pair is listed as by a follower of Frans Pourbus the Younger, and were painted in 1625 and 1629 (which is unusually late for this portrait style).

The elderly bearded gentleman is said to be the Vicomte d'Amphernet, at the age of 75, and his wife the Vicomtesse is 64, which might explain the rather old-fashioned portrait style.

I was particularly tickled to see these two because the Vicomtesse's rosary has six decades -- the first instance of this I've noticed among the Big Reds. I have six decades on the big red coral rosary I've made, but I did it mostly for Maximum Ostentation Value , and I'm happy to see it's actually documentable.

In case you’re curious, each page on the auction site also tells you what a piece is predicted to sell for, and if it’s been sold, what the actual price was. This pair of portraits went for 16,800 euros.

Not a portrait this time, but an interesting 16th-century rosary of skulls and a cross all made of jet, possibly from Compostela, Spain. It’s about 7 inches long and strung on a later, silver-gilt thread. The largest bead on the rosary has a skull on one side and the face of Christ on the other. (The separate skull is a different item.)

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