Auctions | April 11, 2017

Old Masters Dominate Swann Galleries' Spring Prints Auction

8-Schongauer copy.jpgNew York— On Tuesday, May 2, Swann Galleries will offer Old Master Through Modern Prints, with a prodigious selection of works completed before the nineteenth century.  

Swann remains the premier American venue for Old Master prints, opening the morning session of the sale with a unique offering of fine works from Renaissance visionaries. The top lot of the sale is an astoundingly detailed engraving, A Censer, circa 1485, by Martin Schongauer. Scholars believe that Schongauer made this intricate work for the sole purpose of showing off his technical virtuosity. Only two other impressions have been offered at auction in the last 75 years, and many of the 28 known impressions are in institutional collections. In excellent condition with no sign of wear, the present impression is valued at $120,000 to $180,000. Schongauer is also represented in the sale by the circa 1475 engraving The Madonna and Child with Apple, expected to sell between $70,000 and $100,000.

The Visitation is a circa 1450 engraving by Master E.S., a still-unidentified artist believed to have been active in southwestern Germany. Master E.S. was likely a goldsmith, and his works on paper are some of the earliest known Western engravings. Fewer than 20 impressions of any of the mysterious master’s approximately 320 known engravings have appeared at auction in the last 30 years. The only other known impression of this work in North America is in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York ($70,000 to $100,000).

Iconic engravings by Albrecht Dürer are led by Knight, Death and the Devil, 1513 ($50,000 to $75,000). Other important works by the master include The Sea Monster, before 1500; The Four Horsemen, a woodcut, 1498; and Melancolia I, 1514, each valued at $40,000 to $60,000. The Ravisher, or a Young Woman Attacked by Death, circa 1495, is believed to be Dürer’s second attempt at producing an engraving for the blossoming European print market ($7,000 to $10,000).

An exceptional array of etchings by Rembrandt van Rijn features scenes both religious and vernacular. A rare early impression of Landscape with a Square Tower, 1650, leads the section with an estimate of $50,000 to $80,000. Also available is The Omval, 1645 ($40,000 to $60,000), and Abraham Casting out Hagar and Ishmael, 1637, valued at $30,000 to $50,000.

Iconic works by Canaletto, Giovanni Piranesi and Francisco José de Goya complete the selection of Old Masters. The afternoon session of the sale will pick up in the nineteenth century with works by artists from both sides of the Atlantic. Highlights include The Doorway, 1879-80, from James A.M. Whistler’s Venetian tour, which shows a woman doing laundry in a palazzo doorway onto a canal ($40,000 to $60,000).

From early twentieth-century America come works that reflect a rapidly modernizing way of life. Martin Lewis is well represented in the sale, with highlights including Winter on a White Street, 1934, and Wet Night, Route 6, 1933 ($20,000 to $30,000 and, $30,000 to $50,000, respectively). Also available are scenes by Edward Hopper, whose Evening Wind, etching, 1921 is estimated at $80,000 to $120,000, as well as works by Georges Bellows and Rockwell Kent.

The Modern section glows with works by Marcel Duchamp, René Magritte, Henri Matisse, Emil Nolde, Wassily Kandinsky and Fernand Léger. Scarce highlights include Otto Mueller’s Der Mord II (Liebespaar II), circa 1919, valued at $15,000 to $20,000. Scions Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso are also represented en masse. Picasso’s Figure composée II, 1949, is expected to sell between $30,000 and $50,000, while Braque’s Pal (Bouteille de Bass et Verre sur une Table), 1911, is valued at $15,000 to $20,000.

The auction will be held Tuesday, May 2, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The auction preview will be open to the public Thursday, April 27 and Friday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, April 29 from noon to 5 p.m.; and Monday, May 1 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

An illustrated auction catalogue is available for $40 at

For further information and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Todd Weyman at 212-254-4710, extension 32, or via e-mail at

Image: Lot 8 Martin Schongauer, A Censer, engraving, circa 1485. Estimate $120,000 to $180,000.