‘Venus and Cupid’ by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Viewers admiring ‘Venus and Cupid’ by Lucas Cranach the Elder, a newly acquired Old Master that went on view at The National Gallery in London on February 20. It is shown hanging alongside other works by the artist in the collection. Copyright: The National Gallery, London.

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One of them was Sir Anthony van Dyck’s (1599-1641) portrait of Princess Mary, daughter of Charles I, that made £5m at Christie’s on December 6. It was announced last week that it had been bought by The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest thanks to a grant from the Hungarian government.

The price was the second highest for a van Dyck at auction, only behind the self-portrait which took £7.4m hammer at Sotheby's in December 2009.

Anthony van Dyck portrait

The portrait of Princess Mary, daughter of Charles I, aged nine by Sir Anthony van Dyck that sold for £5m (plus premium) at Christie’s in December. It has now been announced that it was bought by The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest.

Cranach left to National Gallery

Meanwhile, The National Gallery in London has received a painting of Venus and Cupid by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) as a bequest from the Drue Heinz Charitable Trust. Arts patron Drue Heinz died last year aged 103.

The painting is one of a series that Cranach produced during the 1520-30s which includes another larger work of the same subject already in the National Gallery’s collection.

It had previously been in the Cook Collection since at least 1915 and was acquired by the Heinz family in 1964. It subsequently passed to Mrs Heinz who chose to leave the painting to the nation.

Venus and Cupid by Lucas Cranach the Elder

‘Venus and Cupid’, an oil on beech from 1529 by Lucas Cranach the Elder that has been left to The National Gallery in London by arts patron Drue Heinz. Copyright: The National Gallery, London.

National Gallery Director Dr Gabriele Finaldi said: “Venus and Cupid is a significant addition to the Gallery’s representation of Cranach, one of the most impressive and prolific painters of the Renaissance in Germany. We are grateful to Mrs Heinz and her charitable trust for this generous gift to the nation.”

Rembrandt heads to Middle East

Also this month, the Louvre Abu Dhabi was revealed as the buyer of a Rembrandt (1606-69) portrait which was knocked down at £8.2m at Sotheby’s on December 5.

Head of a young man, with clasped hands: Study of the figure of Christ drew a great deal of media attention ahead of the sale due to two fingerprints being discovered on the work in 2001 which were presumed to be those of the artist himself.

Rembrandt’s ‘Head of a Young Man’

Rembrandt’s ‘Head of a Young Man’ which was knocked down at £8.2m at Sotheby’s in November and has now gone on view at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

However Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, which sold for $400m ($450m with premium) at Christie’s New York in November 2017, has still yet to go on view at the museum after it was announced in September that the unveiling of the picture was being postponed. 

The Louvre museum in Paris has now confirmed that it has requested the loan of the work for its major exhibition dedicated to Leonardo opening in October, quashing reports that it was not seeking to exhibit the work due to concerns about its attribution.

Varied acquisitions

Tang dynasty ewer

A Tang dynasty ewer with a phoenix head from China (700-800AD) in white earthenware with a three-coloured glaze, acquired by the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It had previously sold at Sotheby’s London in May 2015 where it drew a spectacular competition and fetched £2.73m (including premium) against a £40,000-60,000 estimate. Image copyright: Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi / Photo: Hervé Lewandowski.

The attention placed on Salvator Mundi has somewhat overshadowed the wide range of other purchases made by the Louvre Abu Dhabi recently.

Eleven additions to its collection were unveiled at the end of last year. They included an 11th-12th century Buddhist sculpture, reportedly bought from London dealer Eskenazi, and four 17th century tapestries from French royal manufacturers depicting The Hunts of Maximilian, the Habsburg duke Duke of Brabant.

A further acquisition was a Tang dynasty ewer with a phoenix head (700-800AD) glaze. It had previously sold at Sotheby’s London in May 2015 where it drew a spectacular competition and fetched £2.73m (including premium) against a £40,000-60,000 estimate. It was knocked down to Eskenazi.