A preparatory drawing for a frontispiece of Jacob Cats’ ‘Book of Emblems’ by Adrienne van de Venn – €35,000 (£29,660) in Beaussant-Lefèvre’s sale of the Ulmann collection.

Image copyright: Beaussant-Lefèvre/Drouot

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The Ulmanns, both of whom were active in the French Resistance, started their collection in the 1950s when they were practising as doctors in Noisy-le-Sec.

Colette (1920-2021) was a pediatrician by profession and had helped save Jewish children hospitalised in the Rothschild hospital as well as working for the French intelligence service created in 1940 by de Gaulle.

Jacques André (1917-2011) came from a family of painters and sculptors and specialised in dermatology and general medicine.

While they had a special liking for Dutch and Flemish drawings of the 16th and 17th century, their tastes were broader, also taking in 19th century and 20th century graphic works.

They researched their acquisitions, recording the information on index cards and were donors to a number of major museums.

The sale of the Ulmann collection at Drouot generated international interest with bidding on the phones and online and raised a premium inclusive total of over €1m with 93% of the lots finding buyers.

This was an auction to suit a range of bank balances with plenty of drawings selling in the three-figure bracket.

The sale’s highest prices were achieved by two of the Ulmanns’ Dutch works. Selling for €35,000 (£29,660) was a preparatory drawing by Adrienne van de Venn (1589-1662) for the frontispiece for the Sinne-en Minnebeelden, ‘The Book of Emblems’, the popular work by the 17th century Dutch writer of moralist verse and emblems Jacob Cats, which was published in 1618.

The 7½ x 6in (19 x 15cm) drawing in pen and brown ink and wash was dated 1616 to the lower centre and the price in this instance was comfortably over the €10,000-15,000 estimate .


'Still life with a woman holding a dish', a preparatory drawing by Franz Snyders – €28,000 (£23,730) in Beaussant-Lefèvre’s sale of the Ulmann collection.

Image copyright: Beaussant-Lefèvre/Drouot

Still life with a woman holding a dish by Franz Snyders (1579-1657) was a preparatory study for the artist’s painting now in the Fritz Fray collection at Burgenstock near Lucerne.

The 10 x 15¾in (25 x 40cm) work, executed in pen and brown ink over pencil, has many variations from the finished painting and is also interesting for the underdrawing which shows various changes such as those around the head of the dog and the large gourd to the lower left. This sold for €28,000 (£23,730) against a €15,000-20,00 guide.

Watercolours pre-empted

Three lots in the sale, all watercolours, were preempted by the Musée de l’Armee.

Two were by the French artist Gaspard Gobaut (1814-82): a 5½ x 9in (14 x 22.5cm) view signed lower right of an aqueduct on the Algerian coast which cost €250 (£210) and a 5 x 8in (13 x20cm) view of an encampment near Dive that cost €100 (£85).

The third work was by the French artist Théodore Jung (1803-65) and showed an attack on the Pelet Brigade in square formation at Leipzig on October 16, 1813. The 7¼x 12in (18.5 x 30cm) work, which was signed and dated 1839 lower left, realised a doubleestimate €1500 (£1270).