Offered first was a red chalk drawing of écorché arm studies and the head of a youth catalogued as ‘Circle of’ the 16th century painter and printmaker Bernardino Poccetti (1548-1612).
It was part of a group of some 50 Old Master drawings from the collection of Michael Jaffé (1923-1997), an English art historian and former director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Most had recently been assessed by Christie’s and in most cases Dominic Winter followed its estimates for the March 5 sale.
The small 8 x 4in (20 x 10cm) work was clearly deemed much closer to Poccetti’s hand. Estimated at £600- 800, it was eventually knocked down at £12,500. A French collector won the lot against underbidding from an “eminent English collector”.
Portrait of an artist
Soon after this result a black chalk portrait of the Italian painter Giuseppe Cesari (1568-1640), also known as the Cavaliere d’Arpino, soared to £14,000 against a £300-500 estimate. It came from a private collection in Herefordshire assembled by a former specialist for Christie’s in the 1960s and 70s.
D’Arpino had a successful career and received commissions from the powerful leaders of his day – the Emperor Rudolph II and the kings of France and Spain. He also tutored Caravaggio on the latter’s arrival in Rome and was later created a Cavaliere di Cristo by his patron Pope Clement VIII.
The 8 x 6½in (21 x 16cm) portrait sketched in black chalk on vellum was dated 1627 when Cesari would have been around 60 years old. It was probably a self portrait.
It is inscribed to verso with a contemporary ‘title’ suggesting that the drawing was to be used for an engraved portrait. Again interest from the fine art dealerships was outstripped by private bidders, the lot falling eventually to the English collector who underbid the Poccetti drawing.
The buyer’s premium was 20%.