On May 2 at its Rockefeller Center headquarters in Manhattan, Christie’s will offer works from the collection of the veteran New York art dealer Richard L. Feigen in its Old Masters sale, including pieces by Annibale Carracci, John Constable, and Guercino.
Feigen, who is 88, holds a storied, multifarious collection that ranges from the early Baroque to German Expressionism, and is best known for his connoisseurship in the areas of Italian Old Masters and British Romanticism. And after a lifetime in the art business, he has not been shy about voicing his convictions. “There isn’t a single art history department in the world that I consider first-class,” he told the New York Times in 2010, in an article tied to a display of his collection at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut. He added, “I’m hoping Yale will develop a focus on objects instead of theories.”
Francoise de Poortere, the international director of Old Masters at Christie’s, told ARTnews, “He’s an incredibly eclectic collector, and he’s very outspoken. He’s been a great advocate and a great champion of the Old Masters field. . . . He’s really one of the iconic dealers of his generation.”
Among the highlights in the sale is a small oil sketch of a cloud-filled landscape by the English painter John Constable titled The Skylark, Dedham (recto); Study of a Cow Standing in a Stream (verso), which is estimated to make between $800,000 and $1.2 million, and Carracci’s Virgin and Child with Saint Lucy and the Young Saint John the Baptist, carries an unlisted, on-request estimate.
Feigen acquired the Carracci from Phillips in London in 1987, where it was sold as a work by Sisto Badalocchio and subsequently reattributed. “So that just tells you how important Richard Feigen’s art is, because he has a great, thorough eye for these pictures,” de Poortere said. “He’s been able to make many discoveries in his art career as a collector and as a dealer. So that’s one of the discoveries he’s made—but there are several.” The work is being sold with an unlisted, by-request estimate.
De Poortere also emphasized Feigen’s attentiveness to caring for his works. “Richard really has an eye for condition, and is very particular and very swift on conservation,” he said. “So that’s reflected in the selection that we have and in his collection.”
Also hitting the block will be a gold Lorenzo Monaco tondo, The Prophet Isaiah, estimated at between $1.5 million and $2.5 million. The piece comes from the Annunciation altarpiece now in the collection of the Uffizi in Florence, Italy; Feigen acquired it at Sotheby’s in London back in 1987 from an anonymous seller. Prior to that, the piece had last been seen in Paris in January of 1851, where it was sold privately by the diplomat and historian Alexis-François Artaud de Montor. De Poortere told ARTnews, “These Italian gold-grounds do not come up on the market very often, and certainly not pictures by Lorenzo Monaco.”
A global tour of highlights from the sale runs in Los Angeles from January 9 through 16, before making stops in New York, London, Dubai, and Hong Kong. “We’re incredibly honored to be helping Richard with this project.” de Poortere said. “Richard had love in his eye.”