To celebrate its reopening, London’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG) has launched a series of summer celebrations.
It started with Portrait Mode, a collaborative event that encouraged exhibitions held primarily in London and UK galleries and institutions, all leading up to the reopening on June 22. On June 23 the event goes wider still with the launch of International Portrait Day, set to become an annual celebration.
The NPG closed in spring 2020 for an extensive refurbishment and rehang. For members of the trade, the reopening is a welcome moment. Not only does it bring visitors into London and the UK, it will also promote portraiture as a genre to admire - and possibly purchase.
Roberta Travers of Piano Nobile, one of the Portrait Mode participants, says: “We have seen the demand for great portraiture and self-portraiture grow over the years and I am sure the National Portrait Gallery’s relaunch will only strengthen collectors’ resolve to acquire portraits in all their mediums and styles.”
Christie’s is to offer the last known pair of portraits by Rembrandt in private hands as part of its Old Master sale on July 6.
The small-scale oils of Jan Willemsz van der Pluym (c.1565-1644) and Jaapgen Carels (1565-1640), both signed and dated 1635, portray two elderly relatives of the artist.
The portraits have a virtually unbroken line of provenance. They remained in the family of the sitters until they were sold in 1760 and were bought at Christie’s by the current owner’s family in 1824 but had remained completely unknown to scholars ever since.
They return to Christie’s with a guide of £5m-8m after analysis at the Rijksmuseum. Henry Pettifer at Christie’s called it “one of the most exciting discoveries we have made in the Old Masters field in recent years”.
The Van der Pluyms were a prominent family in Leiden and acquired a garden next to that owned by Rembrandt’s mother. Their grandson Karel van der Pluym, an artist, is thought to have trained with Rembrandt.
Different eras of portraiture
Franz Xavier Kosler painting
As part of its London Art Week exhibition, Lullo Pampoulides offers this portrait of a man as Giacomo Orlandi di Subiaco for £25,000. It was painted by Franz Xavier Kosler (1864-1905) in oil on canvas laid on panel.
Orlandi was one of the most popular male models in mid-19th century Rome for foreign artists, who often depicted him as a brigand or peasant. This picture suggests that the artist, an Orientalist who specialised in anonymous figures, was aware of the sitter’s powerful presence in earlier images.
Relief portrait of Punjab ruler
A white marble plaque with a bas-relief portrait of the Maharajah Duleep Singh (1838-93), the last ruler of the Punjab, will be offered in the Summer Fine Sale at Tennants in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, on July 15 with an estimate of £4000-6000.
The portrait likeness was taken from a famous bust of Singh, sculpted in Rome by John Gibson while the maharajah was visiting the city with the Prince of Wales in 1857, during the happiest part of his troubled life.
Singh was declared Maharaja at just five years old. However, after the British East India Company took control of the region, he was moved to England in 1854, living in a gilded cage among the upper echelons of British society.
Rodin plaster model
This plaster foundry modèle is a portrait of Auguste Rodin, c.1906, by the Russian prince Paul Troubetzkoy (1866-1938). The prince was an admirer of the older artist, but produced a number of major works in his own right, including the monumental equestrian statue of Tsar Alexander III in St Petersburg.
It is part of the Sladmore gallery’s London Art Week exhibition Forged, Carved and Cast - From the earth to the artist’s eye, which runs until July 7, and is offered for a price in the region of £100,000.