Rediscovered and Unrecorded European Art and Old Masters Come to Auction

Nazia Safi
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Carl Julius Rudolf Moll (1861–1945) was one of the founding fathers of the Viennese Secession. Moll greatly influenced the Secession’s avant-garde program, promoting works by foreign artists. He was a subtle painter, favoring interior scenes, landscapes, and still lifes in muted, pastel colors. A recently rediscovered painting by Carl Moll will lead Freeman’s European Art and Old Masters sale on February 23rd, 2021.

Carl Moll, Weißes Interieur (White Interior), 1905. Image from Freeman’s.
Carl Moll, Weißes Interieur (White Interior), 1905. Image from Freeman’s.

Executed in 1905, the work carries a presale estimate of USD 300,000 to $500,000. “It is the highest price range ever given to a work by the artist at auction,” Freeman’s notes in the lot description. This painting is titled Weißes Interieur (White Interior). It features Berta Zuckerkandl-Szeps, an art critic, writer, and one of the most influential Jewish figures in Vienna around 1900. The picture shows her living room in Döbling, Vienna, designed by architect Josef Hoffmann. The painting made its last public appearance in 1908 at Kunstschau, Vienna before a German family acquired it in the early 1920s. It remained within the same family until its recent reappearance.

Moll’s contemporary, Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), is also represented in this European art and Old Masters event with a portrait study for Bildnis Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein (estimate: $50,000 – $80,000). Coming from the Forbes collection, the drawing showcases Klimt’s skill as a draughtsman.

Gustav Klimt, Dame Wittgenstein (Study for Bildnis Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein), 1904-1905. Image from Freeman’s.
Gustav Klimt, Dame Wittgenstein (Study for Bildnis Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein), 1904-1905. Image from Freeman’s.

According to the lot description, the black chalk drawing is one of approximately 20 preparatory sketches of Stonborough-Wittgenstein that Klimt executed over one year. She was the daughter of Karl Wittgenstein, an iron and mining magnate who was also one of Klimt’s patrons. Karl Wittgenstein commissioned the portrait in 1905 to celebrate his daughter’s marriage. Known for his vertical depictions of women, Klimt’s painting shows Stonborough-Wittgenstein in a long silk dress with a matching stole and embroidered floral ornaments. As in many of his other portraits, Klimt used abstract, geometric designs in the background. The available sketch shows the general forms that define the final painting. 

A still life painting from French Impressionist master Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1814-1919) will hit the auction block for the first time in this European art and Old Masters sale. Once part of the collection of Captain and Mrs. William Boissel, Roses is part of a painting series Renoir completed in his last years (estimate: $60,000 – $100,000). Renoir started his career as an apprentice at the Sèvres workshop, painting flowers on porcelain. He returned to flower paintings throughout his life. This was mainly due to the popularity and financial security they provided.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Roses, 1917. Image from Freeman’s.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Roses, 1917. Image from Freeman’s.

Executed in 1917, two years before Renoir’s death, Roses features a warm palette. The work was recently deaccessioned by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It comes with seven letters from Renoir to Captain William Boissel, a family friend.

The European art and Old Masters auction will also feature a mature nocturne landscape by Jakub Schikaneder (1855-1924). A Czech Tonalist painter, Schikaneder often captured the dark streets, corners, and alleyways of Prague. Schikaneder’s outdoor paintings often feature downcast figures. Executed between 1920 and 1924, The Calm Sea, Nocturne shows a woman standing near the shore. A dramatic cliff is visible to the right. Freeman’s presents the work with an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000.

Jakub Schikaneder, The Calm Sea, Nocturne, 1920-1924. Image from Freeman’s.
Jakub Schikaneder, The Calm Sea, Nocturne, 1920-1924. Image from Freeman’s.

Newly authenticated pieces from French and Italian masters, including Valentin de Boulogne, Carlo Dolci, and Lionello Spada, will go under the hammer with Freeman’s on February 23rd, 2021. Bidding will begin at 12:00 PM EST. Find the complete European Art and Old Masters listings on Bidsquare.

Looking for more auction world news? Auction Daily recently explored Christie’s Works on Paper sale, which features a sketch by Vincent van Gogh

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James Ardis
James Ardis
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James Ardis is a writer, editor, and content strategist focused on the auction industry. His company, James Ardis Writing, has partnered with auction houses, galleries, and many clients outside the art world.

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