Mozart was taking top honours in November in Paris courtesy of two strong results in auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s.
On November 18, as part of its sale of the library of Swiss bibliophile Jean-François Chaponnière, Sotheby’s (25/20/13.9%) sold an autograph manuscript score of two minuets, numbers 5 and 6, K164.
The score is notable for being the only example to survive in private hands but also as the sole source for this early piece of dance music by the composer.
Also, it was not published until 1889, which was 115 years after the young Mozart composed it, c.1772. The manuscript was kept by Mozart’s sister Mannerl in Salzburg and was then inherited by the composer’s son Franz Xavier, passing to his mistress Josephine de Baroni Cavalcobo.
Later on it came into the hands of the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig then via auction to the Swiss collector Maja von Arx before being acquired by Chaponnière.
The manuscript sold for €300,000 (£256,410) against an estimate of €150,000-200,000 making it the top price of the sale.
Portrait of a young maestro
Then, nine days later, the Exceptional sale at Christie’s (25/20/13.5%) was led by a portrait of the young Mozart seated at a harpsichord aged just 13.
The 2ft 3in x 22in (70 x 57cm) oil on canvas, catalogued as school of Verona, is inscribed and dated Ioannis Celestini Veneti MDLXXXIII on the keyboard and comes in a carved and giltwood frame with a cartouche to the base bearing a latin inscription reading Amadeo Volfango Mozarto Salisbvrgensi/ Pvero Dvodenni/ In Arat Mvsica Lavdem Omnem Fidemq. Praetergresso/ Eoq. Nomine Gallorvm Anglorvmq. Regibvs Caro/ Petrvs Lviatvs Hospiti Svavissemo/ Effigiem In Domestico Odeo P.C./ Anno CICICCCLXX [MDCCLXX].
The painting has a full and documented history. It was commissioned in 1770, when the young prodigy was in Verona with his father, by Pietro Lugiati, the receiver general of the Venetian Republic.
The setting is Lugiati’s music room. Three months after the portrait was completed Lugiati wrote to Mozart’s mother praising not only the young musician but also the painting.
It is not definitely known who painted the portrait but it is thought most probably to be the work of the Veronese artist Giambettino Cignaroli (1706-70) who was Lugiati’s cousin.
After Lugiati’s death the work passed into the collection of the Accademia Filarmonica di Verona.
Rediscovered by Leopold von Sonnleithner, an Austrian lawyer who was a patron of Beethoven and Schubert, in the early 20th century it was acquired by the musician Alfred Cortot (whose family was offering it at this November 27 auction).
The hammer price of €3.4m (£2.9m), which was paid after a battle between three phones bidders, was over three times the estimate.
£1 = $1.17