The rare Netherlandish religious scene, a recently rediscovered early German still life and a grand 18th century stately portrait will go on display at the Los Angeles museum this week.
Director of the Getty Museum Timothy Potts said: “We rarely are able to acquire three such significant works of art at the same time. These paintings will considerably enhance our presentation of northern European paintings, adding depth and variety across the different genres.”
Two were acquired via art dealers while the other was bought from a private collection. A spokesman for the Getty said the prices paid for the acquisitions could not be disclosed.
A scarce work by Netherlandish artist Gerard David (c.1455-1523) was among the acquisitions. The painting of the Holy Family was well known to the trade, having appeared at Christie’s New York in 2003 where it sold at $900,000 (£ 554,580) to an American collector.
Transformed after surface dirt, yellowed varnish and old retouchings were removed, it was then reoffered at Christie’s London in 2018 where it was knocked down to a private buyer at £4.1m – a considerable return for the vendor with the buyer then selling it to the Getty Museum earlier this year.
The work dated from c.1520 and was one of only around a dozen works by the artist to have ever emerged at auction. The price in the 2018 sale was over six times more than any picture by David had fetched at auction before.
“With its powerful sense of immediacy, this moving and intimate depiction of the Holy Family is a major addition to our collection of Netherlandish paintings,” said Davide Gasparotto, senior curator of paintings at the Getty Museum. “Its exceptional state of preservation allows us to appreciate David’s commanding use of color and delicate brushwork.”
Another painting that previously sold at Christie’s London, a portrait of the Prince of Saxony Friedrich Christian by German artist Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-79), has also been acquired by the Getty.
It appeared at an auction in 2022, where it was consigned by a ‘noble’ source and surpassed a £100,000-150,000 estimate before selling to London dealers Agnews at £380,000, a record price for Mengs. Following negotiations, Agnews sold it to the Getty earlier this year.
Commissioned by the prince himself in 1751, not long after the artist was appointed principal painter to the Saxon court in Dresden, the portrait was described by the Getty as “capturing the energy and optimism of a youthful prince… while concealing the sitter’s disability – likely cerebral palsy – which would have prevented him from assuming the easy, confident stance shown in his portrait.”
After the prince’s untimely death in 1763, the painting remained with the royal family in an almost unbroken chain of inheritance until the auction in 2022. It has now become the fourth work by Meng to enter the Getty collection (the others are another oil portrait, a pastel and a drawing).
Bouquet of flowers
The third Getty acquisition is a painting of a bouquet of flowers in a vase by German artist Ludger tom Ring the Younger (1522-84). Dating from the early 1560s, it is now the earliest independent still life painting in the museum’s collection.
The work had been in the possession of the Bosschaert family for over 200 years before then entering another private collection in the Netherlands in 2007. Its sale to the Getty was via Amsterdam dealer Jan Six Fine Art.
It was described by the museum as a “new discovery” as it was previously not known to scholars and its appearance represented a notable addition to the small corpus of still lifes by this artist.
Ring the Younger is known to have produced only seven of these closely observed plant studies according to the Getty and they rarely appear on the market. This example was particularly vibrant, featuring over 15 species of plants native to northern Europe as well as a luxurious two-handled vase made of Venetian glass decorated with gold and blue enamel.
The work has become the first painting of its type by the artist to enter a museum collection in the US. Gasparotto said: “A pioneer in the history of European still life, Ring the Younger was the author of only a handful of panels with bouquet of flowers.
“With its brilliant palette, exuberant textures, and characterful vase, this work greatly expands our collection of German Renaissance art.”