Debate has long surrounded the well-known portrait of composer Johann Sebastian Bach by German court painter and official Leipzig portraitist Elias Gottlob Haussmann (1695-1774).
There are believed to have been as many as
12 versions of the portrait, in which Bach is shown wearing an open
jacket and holding the score for the Triplex Canon.
The best known of these, signed and dated
1746, is in the Altes Rathaus, Leipzig, although post-War
scholarship and a series of restoration campaigns have questioned
if, as long thought, it is the primary version painted from
The 2ft 8in x 2ft 1in (81 x 64cm) version of
the portrait offered by
Freeman's of Philaldephia on October 12 had been unearthed in
Alabama by John Jones, Freeman's regional representative.
Once owned by Dutch aristocrat Baron
Hendrick van Tuyll van Serooskerken, it reputedly travelled with
the family to the Deep South from Germany via Holland in the 19th
century and had been stored in a vault since 1966.
Haussmann-attributed paintings rarely appear
on the secondary market, but Freeman's thought their picture, which
had been relined and received a substantial degree of retouching,
might bring $30,000-50,000.
In fact, it became the top lot of their Old
Master sale when it brought $100,000 (£65,360). Bach was the object
of a bidding war between a determined American buyer in the room
representing an institution and two European telephone bidders.
The former, J. & J. Lubrano Music
Antiquarians of Long Island, New York - dealers in all things
pertaining to music, including manuscripts, books and rare printed
music and now paintings - won the lot.
Exchange rate: £1=$1.53