Portrait of a young follower of Winckelmann

On 23 July 2020, by Philippe Dufour

Under the watchful eye of the master Johan Joachim Winckelmann, the German art historian considered to be one of the fathers of neoclassicism, this young draughtsman was the chief attraction in this Clermont-Ferrand sale, though finally attributed to a different artist.

Attributed to Bernardino Nocchi (1741-1812), Portrait of a young artist drawing before the bust of Winckelmann, oil on canvas, 95 x 74.7 cm.
Result: €49,200

This Portrait of a Young Artist Drawing Before the Bust of Winckelmann (95 x 74.7 cm, 3.1 x 2.4 ft) had everything going for it – the eloquent presence of its model, and above all the expression of a crucial moment in 18th century artistic and art historical thought: the rediscovery of Antiquity. Initially thought to be Domenico Duprà, it was reattributed to Bernardino Nocchi when the expert changed his mind. This artist worked mainly in Rome, particularly for Pope Pius VI, who in 1785 commissioned him to work on the Stanza delle Stampe in the Vatican Apostolic Library. As Nocchi's style had also moved from a Baroque to a more neoclassical approach, he naturally depicted Winckelmann in his composition. The painting was finally knocked down for €49,200. The decorative arts of this period received considerable acclaim in turn, like the €24,600 that went to a Louis XVI desk in veneer wood and marquetry with rich floral motifs and fine chased gilt bronze ornamentation (140 x 79.5 x 34.5 cm, 4.5 x 2.6 x 1.1 ft). Lastly, a silver-gilt cup (h. 11 cm, 4.3 in, gross weight: 197g) from the Age of Enlightenment fetched €12,546.

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