The Call of Art
admin 18 February 2016
Auction 254 Catalogue, 3.05.2016 / Old Master Paintings


We, Italians are lucky. We can ignore them for a lifetime; we can pass them without looking at them for years, but sooner or later that painting or that sculpture will tell us something, since works of art are this: inanimate objects like others but with the peculiarity and the urge to tell us something. They are always there, equal to themselves, and speak like a cross Symphony; we, only at a certain point, for one reason or another, are more prepared to listen to them, and then we tend ears and eyes to the call.


“The artwork is this: lifeless objects as others, that have the peculiarity and necessity to tell us something”

Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502-1550), ADORAZIONE DEI MAGI, Sold for € 100.000


In this sense there is nothing more adventurous than to dive, as in a book already read, in a painting already seen: growing in our consciousness, we see it with different eyes, and we make them say one of the many things that it has always wanted to tell us.

Of course, you need a minimum of curiosity to begin this journey.

Each work of art, even the smallest and simplest, brings you in the world of which it is the result and for us, it represents the origin of that world.

It is for this strong connotation with the ground and with a style that once included certain sections of the design or colour inflections, we will immediately exclaim, “it is Flemish” or “Tuscan”, “Genoese” , and so on.

It is perhaps for these reasons that, in a time in which culture is more miserable rather than encouraged, the work of an auction house in selecting ancient paintings lies outside the merely economic choices and you can tell that it becomes somehow a “cultural” operation.

In the rooms of Cambi over the past six months it has been possible to see (and to seen sold) a series of remarkable paintings: among the Flemish ones, the sixteenth-century triptych by Pieter Coecke van Aelst, the decorative and educated work by Adriaen van Utrecht and the magnificent pair of still lives with figures by Karel van Vogelaer. There were the stated Tuscan gold funds, as the two tables attributed to Niccolò di Tommaso and Parri di Spinello (the latter perhaps more Florentine and namely recognizable in that Maestro del Borgo a Collina now identified with Scolaio di Giovanni).


Domenico Piola (1627-1703), ABRAMO CHE CACCIA L’ANGELO E IL FIGLIO ISMAELE, Sold for € 60.000


Extremely interesting the two small paintings on stone that, not surprisingly, have more than quadrupled their auction base: the Memento Mori on lapis lazuli and the scene of Perseus and Andromeda, deriving from the famous composition of the Cavalier d’Arpino. We have witnessed to pleasant surprises as, for example, the excellent result of the lovely painting representing Christ Child and Saint John, lot 1558 of the 233 auction, attributed to the painter born in Genoa but Roman of choice Giovanni Andrea Podestà. We found ourselves in front of magnificent works that, without being accompanied by “certain paternity”, have had excellent results for their undeniable beauty and pictorial quality. I refer particularly to the fascinating and perfectly preserved Tuscan table of the sixteenth century representing the Deposition of Christ, to the beautiful Bologna musician Cherub of the seventeenth century or to the sweet and dreamy scene of Entrustment of a child to the guardian angel, large Florentine canvas from the half of the seventeenth century.

Niccolò di Tommaso, (attivo a Firenze tra il 1339 e il 1376), INCORONAZIONE DELLA VERGINE, Sold for € 37.500


Very typical, however, the great painting by Domenico Piola representing Abraham hunting the angel and his son Ishmael, published on the historical series “Repertoire Photos” Longanesi in 1988. We all know that this will not be able to reverse the trend towards cultural drift in our country, but by good example and good choices we can (re) form the tastes and, why not, help you recognize the beauty of great painting.


Lorenzo Bianchini Massoni