A Merry Menagerie from Rubens to John Lewis-Brown

Friday, October 29th 2021

La Gazette Drouot, Philippe Dufour

Studio of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Allegory with Saint George and the Dragon in a Landscape, oil on canvas, 168 x 248 cm/66.1 x 97.6 in.
Result: €124,000

Animals—some unusual—were the guests of a Vendôme sale devoted to painting, particularly Old Masters, where the names of Peter Paul Rubens and John Lewis-Brown (1829-1890) were linked.

When presented at the Château d'Artigny's 33rd Garden Party on June 6, the monumental work attributed to Rubens' studio found no takers. But things have changed, and Allegory with Saint George and the Dragon in a Landscape (see photo) has finally been taken off to Spain for €124,000 (after a high estimate of €80,000). As we know, this scene involving supernatural beings, with Charles I portrayed as Saint George, is a version of the painting now in the British royal collections at Windsor Castle. However, the work here has had a more checkered history, as it was looted in 1944 by the Nazis, and stolen again from its owners in 1967.

The other key piece in the sale was a large animal painting characteristic of its skilled creator: John Lewis-Brown. This Perroquet affolé or Panicked Parrot (195 x 97 cm/76.8 x 38.2 in) is far from being the only protagonist in this lively scene: the scarlet macaw is being chased by four dogs, while in the background a cat is seen climbing a tree to attack a peacock taking refuge on a high branch. But all's well that ends well: the scene raised €21,600 and returned to the family-owned Chateau Cantenac Brown (3rd Grand Cru Classé in 1855), founded by the artist's grandfather.

Also on offer was on appetizing Still Life with Pears, featuring a pewter coffee pot, by the Chardin of the 19th century—the great Guillaume Fouace. The painting (40 x 35 cm/15.7 x 13.8 in) sold for €8,520. Emmanuel Lansyer, a pupil of Gustave Courbet and the most prominent artist of 19th century Touraine, presented his 1891 Clocher de Beaulieu et vieilles maisons le long du canal (Beaulieu Tower and Old Houses Along the Canal: 38 x 46 cm/15 x 18.1 in) at the 1892 National Exhibition in Tours. This fine reference earned it €8,400 at Tuesday's auction.
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