Richard L. Feigen has made a name for himself as an influential and venerable art dealer with galleries in both New York and London. Over the course of six decades, Feigen has sold priceless artworks to globally ranked museums and top-tier collectors. Renowned for his connoisseurship in artworks ranging from early Italian periods to German Expressionism, Feigen has also collected a number of works himself. Now, at the age of 88, the American dealer has decided to sell ten of his works from his personal collection. On January 4th, Christie’s New York announced that five of these artworks will headline their May 2nd ‘Old Masters’ sale and will include works by Annibale Carracci, Guercino, Lorenzo Monaco, and John Constable with early Italian and Baroque paintings alongside 18th-century British works.
Francoise de Poortere, international director of Old Masters at Christie’s, summed up the collector saying: ‘He’s an incredibly eclectic collector, and he’s very outspoken. He’s been a great advocate and a great champion of the Old Masters field… He’s really one of the iconic dealers of his generation,’ according to ARTnews.
In 1957, Feigen opened his first gallery in Chicago, which focused on Expressionism and Surrealism. He would later open another space in New York where he would represent up-and-coming artists like John Baldessari and Francis Bacon. After buying Virgin and Child with Saint Lucy and the Young Saint John the Baptist (c. 1587-1588) in 1987, Feigen successfully re-attributed it to Carracci. The painting by Carracci will lead the May sale estimated at $4 million – just over Carracci’s current record of $3.4 million. With ample experience in art business, Feigen does not shy away from expressing his thoughts on aspects of the art world. In 2010, he poignantly expressed his thoughts on academic history of art programmes. He told the The New York Times: ‘[t]here isn’t a single art history department in the world that I consider first-class.’
Other anticipated highlights include a small double-sided oil sketch by English painter Constable titled The Skylark, Deham (recto); Study of a Cow Standing in a stream (verso) which is expected to sale for $800,000-$1.2 million. The Prophet Isaiah by Monaco is hoped to see between $1.5 million and $2.5 million. Monaco’s tondo comes from the Annunciation altarpiece now in the Uffizi’s collection in Florence. In 1987, Feigen acquired the painting at Sotheby’s London from an anonymous buyer. Prior to the sale, the piece had not been seen since January of 1851 in Paris. The only known still life by Guercino, Vanitas Still Life, will head to the auction block, too, with pre-sale estimates of $3 million.
‘Feigen has made countless and startling discoveries throughout his career, and continues to champion the field of Old Masters,’ said de Poortere in Christie’s announcement. ‘It is an honour to be offering several of his most cherished paintings.’
Before the May auction, a selection of sale highlights will tour the world. Starting in LA, the works will move on to New York during January before heading to London in February and Dubai and Hong Kong in March.