Sale of the Shandon collection – part 10

Dear blog reader.

Here is the tenth part of the series on the sale of the contents of Shandon House, also known as the Shandon collection.

This blog post describes Robert Napier’s picture collection and the remains of his library which were sold on the 3rd day of the sale of the contents of Shandon House.

Robert Napier





The sale of the pictures began today with those of the French school, of whom Claude, Le Nain and Joseph Vernot were the best represented. In Munilo’s pictures the Shandon gallery is especially rich. Of the 52 Italian pictures, which comprise, amongst others, such names as Coreggio, Raffaelle, Brozzino, Titian, Bonifacio, Leonard da Vinci, Batoresso, Andrea Mategna, and Sasso Ferrat, it is almost impossible to speak without having the history of each canvas. The art frauds of all three centuries have been persistent, and baffle all but the most acute connoisseurs, and sometimes even them. Speaking hastily, one would be inclined to doubt the authenticity of more than one of the works attributed t some of the above-mentioned painters, but no-one could deny the extreme beauty of some and the genuineness of others. There is, for example, a head of the Magdalen in prayer, by Guido, on copper, which is full of grace; and a Diana bathing, painted by Ludovico Caracci, full of life and vigour, though evidently only painted no the spur of the moment, and without any intention of making it a finished picture. Of the two Raffaelle’s, that from Sir R Strange’s collection, representing a Virgin in a red dress holding the infant in her arms, has more of the Raffaelle touch than the other, but neither is a very important specimen of this great master. The Dutch pictures are numerous, and for the most part excellent. Nicolas Maes, Jan Steen, Peter De Hooge, Ostade and Teniers, are strongly represented by admirable specimens. Amongst the landscape painters of the same school there are good pictures by N Bergheim, Both, Van de Velde, Ruysdael and Wouvermans, and of both Van Dyck and Rembrandt there are specimens in their best style. The portrait by the latter of the Burgomeister Six, from Lord Northwick’s collection, is as fine a picture of the sort as exists in our National Gallery. Of the British pictures (none of which were sold today) there is a portrait of Burns by A Nasmyth, presented by the poet to W Tytler with the well known lines:

I send you a trifle – the head of a bard
A trifle scarce worthy your care
Accept it, dear Sir, as a mark of respect
Sincere as a Saint’s dying prayer.

There are twp portraits by Hogarth – one of Garrick, and the other of the artist’s wife, which latter is an admirable and rare specimen of Hogarth’s power of portrait painting. Sir David Wilkie is represented by three portraits – his own, painted for Miss Barnard (which ought to be secured for the National Gallery), his mother’s and that of General Palafox, the defender of Saragoza. A Cottage Girl Hanging Out Clothes, by Stothard, is an admirable example of this delicate painter, whose work, after a long period of neglect, is now beginning to be appreciated. Of George Morland there are three specimens, one his own portrait; of Sir Joshua Reynolds, two; and of J Napier, two; both portraits taken at Shandon, one being of David Roberts, RA, and the other of Sir George Harvey, PRSA. That Mr Napier was always ready to patronise national art when it deserved it may be seen in the numerous works by Brown, Cawse, Macnee, MacCulloch, and others.

The following are some of the prices obtained today:- Claude, a seaport town in the Levant (837) 41 gs; Murillo, Spanish peasant boys (366) 22 gs; Murillo, Spanish peasant boys (367) 17gs; Murillo, the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, with infant angels (359) 76 gs; Murillo, the Virgin as the good shepherdess (370) 60 gs; C Dolci, Santa Christians destroying Heridoia (379) 72 gs; Guido, head of the Magdalen in prayer, on copper (281) 30 gs; Tintoretto, portrait of a Venetia nobleman in the character of David, the body of Goliath, and the Philistine in flight in the background (400) 32 gs; Palma Vichio, the adoration of the shepherds, a brilliantly coloured Venetian picture, on panel (600) 160 guineas; S Contarni, the Saviour represented as a child of about eight years old standing on the globe holding the cross in his hand (405) 100 gs; Raffaelle, the Holy Family with St Elizabeth and St John (407) 60 gs; Raffaelle, the Virgin in a red dress holding the infant Saviour in her arms, the head of the infant St John is in the background (40) 58 gs; L da Vinci, the Virgin and child (409) 62 gs; Guardi,a pair of views of Venice (417) 96 gs; Ommeganck, a mountainous landscape (431) 41 gs; Moucheron, a grand classical landscape with figures (440) 65 gs; N Bergheim, the ford (448) 85 gs; A Both, a group of 14 peasants at a wine stall in the Forum of Rome (453) 82 gs; Van Dyck, the Virgin and Child and a female saint (460) 31 gs; J Van Huysum, a vase with a bouquet of flowers upon a marble dish, upon which is lying a group of fruit (462) 320 gs; J Van Os, an elaborate group of fruits and flowers at the foot of a sculptured vase (460) 84 gs; J Weinix, a group of three children on a garden terrace (465) 35 gs; W Van De Velde, a rocky coast scene with vessels in a storm (468) 7 gs; Rembrandt, head of a young man (470) 33 gs; Rembrandt, portrait of the Burgomaster Six in a black dress with ruff and slouched hat (471) 101 gs; Rembrandt, portrait of a lady in a ruff (472) 100 gs; P De Hooge, interior of a room, 100 gs; F De Hooge, a Flemish interior (476) 103 gs; A Pynacker, a river scene, with travellers and mules crossing a bridge (480) 165 gs; Jacob Ruysdael, a landscape at the edge of a forest (482) 62 gs; Jacob Ruysdael, bleaching grounds, near Harlem (483) 125 gs; A Van De Velde, a Dutch water scene with a frozen river, buildings and figures (485); J Wynauts, a landscape with a farmyard surrounded by trees (486) 51 gs; P Wauvermans, a mountainous landscape with a staghound (490) 90 gs; P Wauvermans, the halt at the gypsy’s camp, a composition of numerous figures (487) 100 gs; Van Musscher, an interior of a room with a lady seated near a window (498) 68 gs; G Vander Eeckhout, a group of 4 portraits of children playing with a goat (500), 400 gs.

The total amount realised by the day’s sale was 5269 guineas. Many of the pictures went for very small sums, their genuineness not being beyond question. Mr Caluaghi was the principal buyer.

The sale in Glasgow of the Shandon Library, conducted by Mr Keith, of Duncan, Keith & Buchanan, was completed yesterday, and seemingly with undiminished interest on the part of the public. Thought the lots were neither so numerous nor as valuable as on the preceding days, yet some of them possessed considerable interest as belonging to the great engineer of the Clyde – particularly his copy of Muirhead’s Inventions of James Watt, with Arago’s Historical Eloge and Williamson’s Memorials, 6 vols, morocco, which realised £14 10s. We append a few of the more interesting lots – viz, Stirling’s Annals of the Artists of Spain, 3 vols, £17; Strickland’s Lives of the Queens of England and Scotland, £7 5s; Turner’s Annual Tour, 3 vols, £6 10s; Tyndale’s New Testament, reproduced in facsimile, £4 5s; Walpole’s Anecdotes of Painting, 5 vols, £7 15s; Walton’s Lives and Compleat Angler, 2 vols, £6 10s; Swan’s Lakes of Scotland and Views on the Clyde, 2 vols, proofs, very fine copies, £8; Vieset Euvres des Dominiquin et Raphael, 2 vols, £7 5s; National Memorial to the Prince Consort, full morocco, £12 12s, Total amount of sale, £2145 4s 6d.

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