Tomorrow, Christie’s King Street will hold one of their great evening sales, a highlight of this year’s Old Masters Week. 64 works will go under the hammer, including Constable’s The Lock. Viewing the collection at the weekend, it was extraordinary to stand in front of these great masterpieces and to have the works almost entirely to myself. Had they been on display as an exhibition at one of our great galleries, I would have queued for hours and jostled with hundreds of other admirers to catch a glimpse of the works. Instead the rooms were buzzing with a whispered excitement and everyone had room to enjoy the amazing collection.
Constable’s The Lock is one of a series of six ‘six foot’ canvases depicting the Stour Valley and exhibited between 1819 and 1925. The most famous of these, The Hay Wain hangs in The National Gallery in London.
Other highlights of the sale include Rembrandt’s A man in a gorget and cap, Brueghel II A winter landscape with the Massacre of the Innocents, Balthasar Van Der Ast’s still life with shells and flowers and Adriaen Coorte’s series of three tiny works—asparagus, strawberries and peaches and apricots.
Having studied Dutch art at The Courtauld, I have a peculiar passion for works of still life. Jan Davidsz. De Heem’s Flowers in a glass vase on a draped table, with a silver tazza, fruit, insects and birds is a thing of exquisite beauty and my particular favourite.
It says something of this sale that Turner’s Mont Blanc from Fort Roch, Val d’Aosta is given no greater fanfare than the rest of the collection, such is the standard of the sale.
If you can spare the time, pop in and have a look, it’s a once in a lifetime experience.
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