London Art Week Reports Museum Sales

Written by Silke Lohmnann | Tuesday 15 March 2022

Gerhardt Wilhelm von Reutern (1794 - 1865), The Platzburschen Wilhelm Völcker and Ludwig Dörr, c. 1825-28, Image courtesy of J. Paul Getty Museum, LA, California

Elliott Fine Art held an exhibition of portraits during LAW Summer 2021 and it included The Platzburschen Wilhelm Völcker and Ludwig Dörr by Gerhardt Wilhelm von Reutern (1794 - 1865), which was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum after one of its curators saw the drawing while visiting London Art Week.

Drawn by Gerhardt Wilhelm von Reutern, an aristocratic military officer in the Russian army, who lost his right arm in 1813 at the Battle of Leipzig, this remarkable double portrait was last seen publicly in 1978, at Hazlitt's exhibition on the artist. A small triumph in itself, the exhibition united 37 graphic works by Reutern, many of which are now in leading institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum, the Morgan Library and the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Dating to the mid-1820s, the sheet is exceptional for its rarity, quality, striking aesthetic and condition. Reutern's skill as a draughtsman is evident throughout and these 'village portraits' are immensely important, giving a rare insight into the lives and images of the working population of a small German settlement at the start of the second quarter of the 19th century.

Lucie Attinger (Neuchatel 1859 - Paris 1928), Mon Atelier, 1889, Oil on canvas, 38.1 x 45.4 cm. (15 x 17 7/8 in.), Signed lower left: ATTINGER, Image courtesy of North Carolina Museum of Art, USA

During LAW Winter 2021, Will Elliott curated an exhibition on the Belle Époque and not just one, but two paintings by Swiss artist Lucie Attinger (1859 - 1928) sold to American museums. Mon Atelier, a rare work exhibited in the Salon of 1889 which shows Attinger at the Académie Julian sketching the viewer, was acquired by the North Carolina Museum of Art. Another work by Attinger, Profile study of a Native American, was sold by Elliott Fine Art to the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Ohio.

Lucie Attinger (Neuchatel 1859 - Paris 1928), Profile study of a model dressed as a Native American, c. 1890, Gouache on card, 424 x 332 mm. (16 3/4 x 13 1/8 in.), Signed: L. Attinger, Image courtesy of Allen Memorial Art Museum, USA

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the reappearance of Lucie Attinger's Mon Atelier in the emerging study of female artists in Paris during the Belle Époque, for it is one of only two known paintings depicting a women-only life class at the Académie Julian, the leading international school for women artists at the time. The other painting is Marie Bashkertseff's In the Studio, which has been well-known and discussed since its execution in 1881. Like Bashkertseff's picture, Mon Atelier is therefore a fundamental work in aiding our understanding of the training of women artists at the close of the 19th century. What's more, the painting carries a dedication, which though unfortunately not entirely legible, is very likely to a professor at the Académie, as suggested by the parts that can be read: 'A notre très chère' and 'Encore mille fois merci'. This would make it even more significant, displaying as it does the connection and relationship between a female student at the Académie and her professor. 

Marie Bashkirtseff, In the Studio, 1881, Oil on canvas, 154 x 186 cm, Museum of Dnipro, Ukraine

Lucie Attinger's study of a model dressed in Native American attire is an exciting reappearance on the market, and is also giving an insight into the studio practice at the Académie Julien. Remarkably, Attinger's gouache could be linked to other works executed in the studios of the Académie Julian, given the existence of a photograph of one of the Académie's ateliers in which two artworks of the same model are clearly visible hanging on the wall at the back. Furthermore, a pastel by Marie-Thérèse Duchâteau, a fellow student at the Académie, has recently appeared on the Belgian art market of the same sitter, inscribed on the reverse 1892, and thereby giving a date to Attinger's work.

Swiss-born Lucie Attinger (1859 - 1929) moved to Paris to attend the Académie Julian, but despite her talents and working as an illustrator, she was not very prolific, only once exhibiting at the Salon and her works are therefore rare on the market, with only a small handful of paintings to have appeared publicly over the last three decades.

Winifred Nicholson (1893 - 1981), Father and Son, 1927, Oil on canvas, 35 x 27 in., Image courtesy of The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Patrick Bourne & Co is now able to announce the acquisition by The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge of a work by Winifred Nicholson (1893 - 1981), Father and Son (Ben and Jake Nicholson), 1927.

Winifred Nicholson's Father and Son was painted in 1927, the year that Winifred and Ben Nicholson's first child Jake was born. It was exhibited at The Seven and Five Society exhibition at The Beaux Arts Gallery, London in 1928. Cordelia Bourne, speaking on behalf of Patrick Bourne & Co, said that The Fitzwilliam was its ideal home both because of the museum's existing holdings and also because of their future objectives.  

The Fitzwilliam Museum commented:  "We are delighted to welcome into The Fitzwilliam Museum collection this important work by Winifred Nicholson. The Museum is committed to expanding and more actively displaying its collection of art by women, and the acquisition of this lively, subtly subversive, image of maternal love is a part of our ongoing fulfilment of these ambitions. More generally, the portrait will take its place within The Fitzwilliam's outstanding collection of British portraiture from the 17th to the 21st-century. The painting will also offer new context for the Museum's extraordinary collection of religious art, in particular works in various media depicting the Madonna and child, a tradition which Nicholson's painting, directly and indirectly, responds to."

Father and Son was bought with the help of The Arts Council England/V&A Purchase Grant and support from Art Fund.

Walter Sickert (1860 - 1942), Tipperary, 1914, Oil on canvas, 20 x 16 in, 50.8 x 40.6 cm, Signed and dated, Image courtesy of Imperial War Museum, London

The Fine Art Society sold one of Walter Sickert's Tipperary paintings from 1914 to the Imperial War Museum. It is one of four versions, but the only one that showed the model Emily Powell playing the piano with a soldier in the foreground. It was purchased by the IWM with the help of the Art Fund and the National Heritage Lottery Fund (NHLF). The title of the oil on canvas is a reference to the 1912 song It's a Long Way to Tipperary, which was first adopted by the 7th Battalion of the Connaught Rangers, which quickly achieved lasting fame with the armed forces at the front.

Anna Boberg, Sunlight and Showers, c. 1912, Oil on canvas, Overall: 91 x 64 cm. Purchase, with funds from the European Curatorial Committee, 2021. 2021/91. Image courtesy of Ben Elwes Fine Art

Ben Elwes Fine Arts also reported sales to North American Museums. A painting by Anna Boberg, once Sweden's most famous artist and polar explorer, sold to the Art Gallery in Ontario (AGO) in Toronto (read the full article here), and The Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine discovered an important abolitionist painting by British artists William Gale (1823 - 1909), The Captured Runaway, during LAW 2020 and it has now gone on public view (see further info here).

William Gale (1823 - 1909), The Captured Runaway, 1856, Oil on canvas, 49 1/4 x 37 3/4 in (125 x 96 cm), Monogrammed and dated lower right WG 1856, Image courtesy of Bowdoin College Museum of Art, USA and Ben Elwes Fine Art

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