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Heroes and Saints - The successful stars of the Old Master Auction at Dorotheum


Studio of Peter Paul Rubens,
realized price € 352.300

Michele di Matteo Lambertini,
realized price € 271.800

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, detto il Guercino,
realized price € 191.300

Piero Novelli detto il Monrealese,
realized price € 122.300

Jan van Goyen,
realized price € 104.000

Alessandro Allori,
realized price € 104.000

Great quality and famed names come at a price. And the name Rubens exerts a particular fascination. Whenever a painting is associated with the master himself or with his studio, high demand is practically guaranteed. The Dorotheum Vienna auction of „Old Master Paintings“ on 6th October 2009 provided ample proof of this when the attractive Judgement of Paris from the studio of Peter Paul Rubens was sold for 352.300 Euro, eight times the original estimate! 

The successful bidder participated in the auction via telephone from Russia. The painting probably represents one of two studies for Ruben's Judgement at the London National Gallery; the second preliminary study is in the collection of the "Dresden Gemäldegalerie". In a 2009 expert's report, the painting is confirmed as being by Rubens and his studio: "Hitherto unpublished, our painting acts as an important supplement to the œuvre of Rubens and his studio … Unlike the London version, the painting at hand depicts the original concept, offering a fascinating insight into the methods of Ruben's studio" (Cat. No. 104). The catalogue of the National Gallery from the year 1970 has yet another interesting detail to add: The model for the goddess Venus may have been Ruben's second wife; and who might she have sat for if not the master himself? 

A medieval master likewise reached a new price record: a painting of John the Baptist and Apostle by Michele di Matteo Lambertini found a new owner for 271.800 Euro. The work was originally part of an altar triptych, whose central panel depicting the Enthroned Virgin and Child is now in the Kotroceni Museum in Bucharest, while the left panel is in the Museo Civico in Pesaro. A sculpted architectural element is still attached to the painting (Cat. No. 10). 

Biblical heroes had a major part in the auction's success, e.g. the Apostle Matthias by Guercino (€ 191.300, Cat. No. 51), Guido Reni's Christ with Crown of Thorns (€ 73.500, Cat. No. 93), or St Rosalia, patron saint of the city of Palermo, a dramatic oil painting by Pietro Novelli, detto il Monrealese which will now return to her home (€ 122.300, Cat. No. 35).

The auction's title lot also proved to be much sought-after: the Young Noblewoman with Lute and mysterious gaze, painted by Alessandro Allori, found a new admirer for 104.000 Euro (Cat. No. 108). An idyllic village-scape by Jan van Goyen (€ 104.000, Cat. No. 59), a Venus by Hans Rottenhammer (€ 73.500, Cat. No. 105), and a panel with a portrait of Friedrich the Wise of Saxony attributed to a successor of Dürer likewise underwent significant appreciation, the later rising from a starting bid of €  4.000 to a final price of € 76.200 (Cat. No. 2).

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