MADRID – A recently rediscovered work by Spanish Golden Age master Juan van der Hamen (1596-1631) heads the sale taking place Tuesday, October 3 through Thursday, October 5 (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3) at the Madrid auction house Ansorena. Dated 1619, the oil on canvas of autumnal fruits and a bowl of chestnuts is among the earliest still life paintings known by the artist. The catalogs are now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.
Noted Spanish still life specialist Professor Peter Cherry unveiled this as a lost work by Van der Hamen in an article in 2021. Inventory numbers to the corners, revealed after cleaning, identify it as a painting that remained in the collection at the Palacio Real de El Pardo well into the 18th century. According to the royal accounts, the artist was paid 100 reals for the picture in 1619 that was commissioned to complete a series of six still lives for the El Pardo gallery. At the time, the artist was just 23 years old. Cherry said that “Despite his youth, the work already shows a solid and identifiable style with its author demonstrating a great capacity to reflect the reality of what is represented.”
The 2ft 3in by 2ft 11in (68 by 88cm) painting, which is recorded in an inventory compiled following the death of Charles II (1661-1700), is thought to have left the palace in the tumult of the Napoleonic era.
The painting, which comes from a private collection in Madrid, is estimated at €360,000-€480,000 ($385,200-$513,600).
Noted for his versatility, Juan van der Hamen painted religious history paintings, allegories, landscapes, low-life subjects, portraits and still lifes, but it is the last two categories that brought him enduring fame. He served at the courts of Philip III and Philip IV and established the popularity of the relatively new genre of still life in Madrid in the 1620s. It is known that he painted more still lifes in the year 1622 than in any other period of his life.
More modern works offered on the second day of the Ansorena auction include a pair of early 20th-century oils by blue-chip Valencian painter Joaquan Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923), offered together at €1.35 million-€1.8 million ($1,444,500-$1,926,000). They have a full provenance that name-checks two of the greatest American collectors of the early 20th century.
Painted in 1910, these scenes of a Spanish formal garden were acquired by the Virginia tobacco magnate Thomas Fortune Ryan at an exhibition held by the Hispanic Society of America in Chicago in the spring of 1911. When he died in 1933, he was the South’s wealthiest native son and the nation’s 10th-wealthiest man. The paintings were subsequently sold at auction by the American Art Association in New York in 1933, where they were purchased by industrialist John Paul Getty. Later deaccessioned from the Gerry Museum, they were sold into a Spanish collection in 1989.