Discoveries in collection of Brian Sewell lead to new attributions

Brian Sewell in Christie's warehouse, circa 1962. He worked there from 1958 to 1967.

Reassessment of great collection includes undiscovered rarities, writes Des O’Sullivan. 

Serious collectors of art will not be surprised at all by the news that undiscovered rarities have been found in the collection of Brian Sewell. 

One of Britain’s best loved art critics he had a flair for spotting quality, even where the identify of the artist had been long lost. His collection comes up at Christie’s in London on September 27.

A number of new attributions have been made since the catalogue to the auction Brian Sewell: Critic and Collector was published. 

A drawing thought to have been by a follower of Michelangelo and other works have been identified.

A soldier carrying a ladder from Brian Sewell’s collection turns out to be a work by Agostine Ciampelli (1565-1630). Picture: Christies
A soldier carrying a ladder from Brian Sewell’s collection turns out to be a work by Agostine Ciampelli (1565-1630). Picture: Christies

An oil on paper study on blue paper of a soldier carrying a ladder towards a besieged town was spotted by a museum curator in the US as by the Florentine artist Agostino Ciampelli (1565-1630). 

The technique with black chalk heightened by white on blue paper is characteristic of Ciampelli. 

The drawing, made in connection with a Medici marriage in 1589, was acquired by Brian Sewell in the early 1960s as a work by an accomplished follower of Michelangelo. 

It is now estimated at £20,000-£30,000 (€23,500 to €35,000) .

A Man’s Head in Profile has been attributed to Jusepe de Ribera, lo Spagnoletto (1591-1652) and is is estimated at £6,000-£8,000.Picture: Christies
A Man’s Head in Profile has been attributed to Jusepe de Ribera, lo Spagnoletto (1591-1652) and is is estimated at £6,000-£8,000. Picture: Christies

A profile study has been found to be typical of the technique of Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652) when using red chalk (£6,000-£8,000).

A two-sided study in oil on paper by Domenico Tintoretto (1560-1635) has just been associated with a series of pictures in the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. 

A drawn view from 1794 was identified as the Schmadribach Waterfall near Lauterbrunnen, a favourite subject of German romantic Joseph Anton Koch (1768-1839) (£20,000-£30,000).

Dido Reclining, Asleep by Daniele da Volterra (1509-66) was identified through extensive research at Christie’s and is estimated at £100,000-£150,000. 

Daniele da Volterra (1509-1566) Dido Reclining, Asleep (£50,000-£80,000).Picture: Christies
Daniele da Volterra (1509-1566) Dido Reclining, Asleep (£50,000-£80,000). Picture: Christies

Estimates in the auction, which includes a drawing of a male nude by the Irish artist James Barry previously published on these pages, range from £600 to £600,000.


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