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Looking back over the past twelve months, we’d like to express our gratitude to all of you who participated in this exceptionally successful year of auctions. Over 80% of the lots offered found buyers, across all categories and price segments, with prices often exceeding expectations – in fact, the percentage sold by value attained the remarkable score of 150% of the lower estimates, and several new auction records were set.

If you are considering selling part or all of your collection, we are convinced that now is the right time. With our extensive and constantly developing international network, we can present your works of art to a worldwide audience.

In the following pages (click the link below) we present some of the highlights that passed through our hands in the past year. The works shown are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’: in 2021 we auctioned more than 9,000 lots from 20 distinct collecting categories, and they found new owners in over 65 countries worldwide.

We would be pleased to value your works of art and advise you with regard to our upcoming auctions. We look forward to hearing from you.

Lines no. 12. 1981.
Oil and pencil on canvas. 170 × 170 cm.
Estimate: CHF 150 000/250 000
Sold for CHF 1.03 million

La Liseuse. 1922.
Oil on canvas. 81.5 × 100 cm.
Estimate: CHF 250 000/350 000
Sold for CHF 523 000

Post-sale report


Hammer prices total 150% of estimates, across all categories

Modern, Contemporary & Swiss Art, Asian Art, Jewellery, Watches
30 November – 3 December 2021

Koller’s end-of-year auctions were characterised by extremely active bidding in every collecting category, with total hammer prices realising 150% of the lower estimates – a sign of a very healthy auction market, and a fitting end to an exceptionally successful year for the Zurich auction house.

PostWar & Contemporary, Prints & Multiples
Two works by Czech artist Zdenek Sykora soared above their pre-sale estimates: ‘Lines no. 12’, 1981, realised CHF 1.03 million (lot 3469, CHF 150 000/250 000), and ‘Lines no. 93’, 1992, sold for CHF 488 000 (lot 3470, CHF 80 000/140 000). Both were from the artist’s best-known series of partially computer-generated works, and will enter private collections in his homeland. Op-Art was also actively disputed during the auction, with ‘Rot-Grüne Energie II’, 1971, by Günter Fruhtrunk tripling its estimate at CHF 97 900 (lot 3424, CHF 30 000/50 000). A small-format work by Willem de Kooning found a new owner at CHF 534 000 (lot 3444, CHF 600 000/900 000), and a magnificent composition by Jean-Paul Riopelle, ‘Noyauttage’, 1957, changed hands for CHF 171 000 (lot 3407, CHF 120 000/180 000). A colour screenprint from the 1975 ‘Mick Jagger’ series by Andy Warhol set a new auction record for this print at CHF 110 000 (lot 3664, CHF 24 000/28 000). Records were also set for ‘The Oval Office’ by Roy Lichtenstein (lot 3659, CHF 53 980), and a ceramic by Pablo Picasso, ‘Vase / Femme deux anses hautes’ (lot 3611, CHF 53 980).

Swiss Art
Works by internationally known artists such as Félix Vallotton, Ferdinand Hodler, Cuno Amiet and Giovanni Segantini sold well, alongside more typically Swiss artists like Adolf Dietrich, Clara Porges and Rudolf Koller. Anker’s exceedingly charming ‘Girl with two kittens’ sold for CHF 1.98 million (lot 3006, CHF 1.5/2 million), followed by Vallotton’s vibrant composition ‘La Liseuse’, 1922, which doubled its lower estimate at CHF 523 000 (lot 3035, CHF 250 000/350 000). ‘Il Ciabattino’ (The Shoemaker) by Giovanni Segantini changed hands for CHF 354 000 (lot 3011, CHF 250 000/350 000). Among the top lots by Cuno Amiet was an expressionistic portrait of one of his favourite models, Hilda Trog, which more than quadrupled its estimate at CHF 146 000 (lot 3022, CHF 30 000/40 000). Ferdinand Hodler’s ‘Pastures on Lake Geneva’, circa 1882, sold for well above the upper estimate at CHF 244 000 (lot 3017, CHF 130 000/180 000).

Rue de Clignancourt, Paris. 1924.

Oil on canvas. 65 × 54 cm.
Estimate: CHF 50 000/70 000
Sold for CHF 439 000

Impressionist & Modern Art
A rare sculptural subject for Ossip Zadine, ‘Oiseau’ (Bird), 1929, more than doubled its lower estimate at CHF 409 000 (lot 3242, CHF 160 000/220 000). A view of Paris’ Rue de Clignancourt by Gustave Loiseau was the subject of an unexpected bidding battle between two private collectors that pushed the final price up to more than six times the upper estimate, CHF 439 000 (lot 3213, CHF 50 000/70 000). Another work by Loiseau in the auction, ‘Bord de la rivière, la Seine à Portejoie’, circa 1901, also sold well above the estimate at CHF 274 000 (lot 3206, CHF 70 000/120 000). Works by Paul Klee (lot 3233, CHF 305 000), Walter Dexel (lot 3239, CHF 238 000), and Phillip Bauknecht (lot 3225, CHF 165 000) were also among the highlights of the Modern auction.

Watches, Jewellery
A Patek Philippe ‘Grand Complication’ wristwatch from 2013 sold for a world record CHF 1.11 million (lot 2845, CHF 400 000/700 000). This watch could only be specially ordered, and the buyer needed to be personally approved by the CEO of Patek Philippe before each watch was made.

Click on the button below to see all catalogues with prices realised

Catalogues with prices realised



Oiseau. 1929.

Bronze with green and gold patina, partially polished. H 80 cm.

Estimate: CHF 250 000/350 000

Sold for CHF 409 000


Girl with two kittens. 1888.

Oil on canvas. 65.5 × 43 cm.

Estimate: CHF 1.5/2 million

Sold for CHF 2 million


Extremely rare 'Grand Complication' wristwatch, 2013.

Estimate: CHF 400 000/700 000

Sold for CHF 1.1 million

World auction record


Lines no. 93. 1992.

Oil and pencil on canvas. 94 × 94 cm.

Estimate: CHF 80 000/140 000

Sold for CHF 464 000


Komposition 26. 1926.

Oil on canvas. 66.2 × 58 cm.

Estimate: CHF 80 000/120 000

Sold for CHF 238 000


Rot-Grüne Energie II. 1971.

Acrylic on canvas. 80 × 80 cm.

Estimate: CHF 30 000/50 000

Sold for CHF 98 000


Bord de la rivière, la Seine à Portejoie. Circa 1901.

Oil on canvas. 54.5 × 65 cm.

Estimate: CHF 70 000/120 000

Sold for CHF 275 000


Untitled. 1973/75.
Oil and gouache on paper on board. 45 × 60 cm.

Sold for CHF 534 000


Diamond bracelet, circa 1985.

Estimate: CHF 130 000/200 000

Sold for CHF 305 000


China, late Song / early Ming dynasty, H 44.5 cm.

Estimate: CHF 100 000/150 000

Sold for CHF 390 000


Femme / Vase deux anses hautes. 1952.

Ceramic with painted decoration in black & white. H 39.6 cm.

Estimate: CHF 28 000/34 000

Sold for CHF 54 000

World auction record


From the series: Mick Jagger. 1975.

Colour screenprint. 176/250. 111 × 73.7 cm.

Estimate: CHF 24 000/28 000

Sold for CHF 110 000

World auction record

KOLLERview is published four times annually.

Next issue: March 2022

Click & read

In this issue:

• Early abstractions
• The interplay between intent and chance
• Shapes and colours from nature
• Hodler on the water, Anker in Ins
• Clean ears for the truth

Preview in Zurich

25–29 November, 10am–6pm (Monday 10am–4pm)
Auctions: 30 November–3 December 2021

Hardturmstrasse 102, 8005 Zurich

(Wristwatches & Pocketwatches: Wednesday, 01. December 2021, 11am)

Lot 2824 - An extremely rare and large gold enamel pocket watch

Veigneur Frères, with 1/4-repeater and automaton, for the Chinese market, ca. 1790.



Karpat. 1984.
Acrylic on canvas. 84 × 84 cm.
Estimate: CHF 70 000/90 000
Sold for CHF 116 000 in December 2021
Click on the image for more details.

Dyok (positif). 1967.
Painted wood. 28/50. 36 × 37 cm.

Instead of choosing between painting or sculpture, some post-war artists decided to push the boundaries between the two, creating two-dimensional works which also explore the possibilities offered by sculpture. Victor Vasarely spent much of his career experimenting with carefully crafted, illusionistic effects which made the motif shimmer, spin, or appear to extend from the canvas into the viewer’s space, as in his 1984 work, ‘Karpat’. As with sculpture, a key element in Vasarely’s work is that the perception of the artwork changes with the spectator’s point of view. Jesús Rafael Soto utilised a similar concept in his work ‘Vibrations’, 1967, in which the lines screenprinted onto a plastic sheet appear to float in front of a striped and seemingly vibrating background.

Vasarely also worked in another medium which lies in a grey area between painting and sculpture: relief sculpture. With his ‘positif’ and ‘negatif’ series of works from the mid- to late 60s, the artist employed a series of cut-out and painted shapes, generally arranged in a square-shaped array of nine elements, as in the works ‘Dyok (positif)’ and ‘Beryl (positif)’ offered here. The choice and arrangement of shapes and colours was not only aesthetic – Vasarely was inventing a ‘plastic alphabet’, a symbolic visual language designed to grant universal access to the creative process.

Stephan Balkenhol is best known for his sculptural works, such as ‘Male Torso’, 2011 and ‘Kneeling Man’, 2012, offered in the 2 December auction. But he also engages in relief sculpture, as in the portrait of a man in a classic head-and-shoulders format from 2017 illustrated here. In his relief works, Balkenhol employs his signature technique of leaving rough traces of the tools used to carve out the wood. Painting is also an important element in Balkenhol’s sculptures as well as his reliefs, creating a link to classical portraiture, while at the same time serving to underline the difference between what his ‘portraits’ at first appear to be, and what they might actually represent.

Vibrations. 1967.
Silkscreen on Plexiglas and plastic.
74/100. 29 × 43 × 9 cm.
Estimate: CHF 5 000/7 000
Sold for CHF 8 750 in December 2021
Click on the image for more details.

Head-and-shoulders relief portrait of a man. 2017.
Wooden relief, painted. 41.8 × 35.9 × 4.4 cm.
Estimate: CHF 9 000/14 000
Sold for CHF 21 000 in December 2021
Click on the image for more details.

Interferenzen. 1993.

Relief print. 27/150. 75 × 57 cm.
Estimate: CHF 3 000/5 000
Sold for CHF 6 250 in December 2021
Click on the image for more details.

Indetermined Line. 1987.
Charcoal, pastel and collage on paper. 127 × 96.7 cm.
Estimate: CHF 15 000/20 000
Sold for CHF 67 000 in December 2021
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Gunther Uecker, apart from his use of nails to create sculptural paintings, also employed relief as a means of expression, such as in the multiple ‘Interferenzen’, 1993, with its complex pattern of embossed white-on-white dots. Sometimes the paint surface itself creates a sort of relief sculpture, for example in Jean-Paul Riopelle’s ‘Noyauttage’, 1957. Riopelle was a sculptor as well as a painter and referred to his works as ‘sculptures in oil’. With various custom-made palette knives, in the present work Riopelle produced a mosaic of structural fields reminiscent of fields seen from above.

Collage can also add a further dimension to 2-D art, and was often employed by Christo and Jeanne-Claude in their projects to give a sense of how the final installation would appear. In the present auction’s ‘Wrapped Mur des Reformateurs’, 1977, and ‘Wrapped Automobile’, 2015, fabric and thread create a subtle and effective relief. French sculptor Bernar Venet also makes use of this technique in ‘Interdetermined Line’, in which he attaches a cut-out of a sculpture to the wove paper support, a fact that is not immediately apparent to many viewers but is nonetheless registered by the eye as an impression of depth.

Trompe l’oeil is also an effective way of exploring the gap between the viewer’s perception and the two-dimensional reality of the work. Peter Phillips is a contemporary master of the technique, as evidenced in ‘Gemini 1: Unvarying Mean’, 1981. In depicting portions of objects in oil and wax on two large-format canvasses, the artist purposely treads the line between illusion and corporeality. Through the use of mirrors, artists Adolf Luther (‘Hohlspiegelobjekt’, 1976) and Kris Martin (‘The End’, 2006) make the viewer a participant in the artwork, bringing us full circle to one of Vasarely’s guiding principles. Martin’s large work creates a tension between what the viewer sees and the reverse writing on the mirror’s surface, in a way making them the subject of their own film – or a living, moving sculpture on view to un unseen spectator.

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Catalogues with prices realised

Noyauttage. 1957.
Oil on canvas. 50 × 64 cm.
Estimate: CHF 120 000/180 000
Sold for CHF 171 000 in December 2021
Click on the image for more details.

Gemini 1: Unvarying Mean. 1981.
Oil and wax on canvas, in 2 parts. 180 × 260 cm.

The End. 2006.
Mirror with plastic film. 200 × 300 cm.



Bacchanale, esquisse 3. 1920.
Oil on board. 36.7 × 55.8 cm.
Estimate: CHF 5 000/8 000
Sold for CHF 40 000 in December 2021
Click on the image for more details

When Maurice Denis painted ‘La Bacchanale du Tigre Royal’ in 1920, he was at a pivotal moment in his personal and professional life. His beloved wife for 26 years, Marthe, had passed away the previous year. His artistic career was also taking a new direction. Denis’ work after the First World War was dominated by mural painting. A devout Catholic, he co-founded the Ateliers de l’Art Sacré in 1919 to promote Christian art, training artists and craftsmen with this goal in mind. The group mainly executed murals and stained glass for churches, many of which had been damaged during the war. Already in 1916, Denis had set his sights the ‘supreme goal of painting, which is the large-scale decorative mural’. By the end of his life he had executed twenty murals and numerous large-format canvasses, including ‘La Bacchanale’.

A painting from Denis' Nabis period:
La barque d'Urien. 1893.

Oil on canvas. 21 × 31 cm.
Sold for CHF 53 000 in July 2021
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Femme devant un vitrage. Circa 1891.
Oil on board on panel. 19.3 × 17.2 cm.
Sold for 317 000 in July 2021
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By 1920 Denis had already been professionally active for thirty years, and was on the verge of his most successful period as an artist. As a young man, he was part of the Nabis artist group, along with his former classmates Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, as well as Félix Vallotton and Paul Sérusier. In 1890, at the age of nineteen, Denis wrote an article that became the movement’s manifesto. Its opening quote is often cited as a starting point for modernism and a prescient definition of abstraction: ‘Remember that a painting, before being a war horse, a female nude or a sort of anecdote, is basically a flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order’.

Denis continued to theorise and write about art throughout his life – his lifetime correspondence and essays comprise more than 15 000 documents – and although he progressed through several styles after the Nabi period, including Symbolism and Neo-Classicism, he remained faithful to the conspet of painting as a juxtaposition of fields of colour. This is evidenced in the study for the ‘Bacchanale’ sold in our June 2005 auction, in which the placement of colour fields is reminiscent of his works from the Nabis period. The study offered in our December auction is closer to the finished work, in the Neoclassical style Denis was working in at that time¸ but with an interplay of light and shade that clearly defines the assemblage of colours ‘in a certain order’.

The ‘Bacchanale’ was commissioned by a luxury fur boutique, ‘Le Tigre Royal’, founded in 1888 and located on Geneva’s high-end shopping street, the Rue du Rhône. The ‘Tigre Royal’ became especially well known under the ownership of the haute couturier Max Reby beginning in the late 1960s, whose fur creations are still highly sought-after today. The original painting is now in the Artizon Museum (Ishibashi Foundation) in Tokyo.

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Catalogues with prices realised

Study for the 'Bacchanale'. 1920.
Oil on board. 29 × 42 cm.
Sold for CHF 22 000 in June 2005
Click on the image for further details.

With a mink stole by Max Reby
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Frederick II's elephant, depicted in an imperial procession in Cremona in 1237
(Matthew Paris, 'Cronica Maiora', Part II,
Parker Library, MS 16, fol. 151V)
Click on the image to enlargen

An allegory of Hearing. Oil on copper. 59.3 × 91 cm.
Estimate: CHF 200 000/300 000
Sold for CHF 244 000
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Collecting exotic and domestic animals for display was a pastime and a symbol of prestige and power for European monarchs for centuries. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II exchanged a series of rare beasts with Al-Malik al-Kamil, sultan of Egypt, in the early 13th century. Al-Kamil sent an elephant to Frederick, as well as a white cockatoo from Australasia – a region that was completely unknown to the Western world at that time, so the bird would have been exceedingly rare. In return, Frederick’s gifts to the Sultan included horses with gem-incrusted golden stirrups, a white peacock, and a white bear. Frederick also sent three lions to King Henry III of England, a gift which inspired Henry to start a menagerie in the Tower of London. The English king received a polar bear in 1252 from the king of Norway, and an elephant in 1255 from King Louis IX (Saint Louis) of France.

Many artists throughout the Renaissance and Baroque periods were also captivated by animals, both exotic and domestic. Albrecht Dürer’s woodcut of a rhinoceros from 1515, despite its anatomical inaccuracies (he never actually saw the beast) was enormously popular and widely distributed throughout Europe. Dürer owned several parrots, and this exotic creature can be spotted in several of his works, including the 1504 engraving, ‘Adam & Eve’. Parrots, like many other animals, were given a symbolic meaning in art. They came to be associated with the Immaculate Conception – perhaps because the bird’s ability to speak seemed as miraculous as Mary’s birth, or because they are the only animals that can pronounce words and miracles supposedly occurred through the ‘Word’ of God.

Some early to mid-17th-century artists seem to have included animals in their paintings not only for their symbolic meaning, but for the sheer pleasure of depicting them in all their furry or feathery glory. Jan Brueghel the Younger’s ‘Allegory of hearing’ includes two macaws who seem to be deep in conversation, a white cockatoo and other colourful birds flying above the scene, and a mischievous monkey attempting to play a horn.

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Oil on panel. 46 × 70.8 cm.
Estimate: CHF 50 000/70 000
Sold for CHF 61 000
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An otter lying on a rocky shore.
Oil on copper. 15.5 × 22.3 cm.
Estimate: CHF 25 000/35 000
Sold for CHF 25 000
Click on the image for more details

Jacob Savery the Younger seemed to delight in placing a wide variety of animals in his depiction of the Garden of Eden, from commonplace creatures such as a cow and a dog to leopards, an ostrich, a giraffe and even a unicorn, while Adam & Eve are reduced to tiny, spectral figures, almost as an afterthought.

In their ‘Allegory of air’, Jan Brueghel the Younger and Ambrosius Francken the Younger depict a wonderful maelstrom of birds, from the terrestrial turkey and ostrich to a delicate and high-flying bird of paradise. And Jan van Kessel even indulged himself in a small-format study of a sleeping otter.

The wealthy ruling class of the time did not settle for merely admiring artistic depictions of animals, however, when the true status symbol was owning one’s own. Louis XIV’s ‘Ménagerie royale’ at Versailles had a great influence on his fellow European regents. Constructed between 1662 and 1668 as a display of exotic birds and animals such as ostriches, an elephant and a dromedary, it was an essential part of any visit to the royal château. Soon similar menageries began to appear in castles such as Het Loo in the Netherlands, the Belvedere in Vienna and Sanssouci in Potsdam. The message intended to be conveyed by such collections was that the ruler exercised his power and control not only over his subjects, but over the chaos of nature itself.

An allegory of air.
Oil on panel. 42.7 × 61.5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 60 000/80 000
Sold for CHF 73 000
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La Ménagerie de Versailles: le pavillon central vu depuis la Cour des Demoiselles.
Click on the image to enlargen

Meissen, circa 1732. The model probably by J. J. Kändler for the Japanese Palace in Dresden.

© Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1989-22-2.
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The porcelain circa 1751–53. The model probably by J. J. Kändler. Estimate: CHF 26 000/30 000
Sold for CHF 61 000
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The models circa 1741 by J. J. Kändler.

Augustus II ‘the Strong’ of Saxony surely visited the Versailles menagerie when he stayed there as a youth during his Grand Tour in 1687 and 1688, but he was especially impressed by the ‘Labyrinthe’, an elaborate garden maze with thirty-nine fountains decorated with painted lead statues of animals and birds. It is possible that the Labyrinthe at Versailles was one of the inspirations for Augustus’s gargantuan and ultimately unfinished project for the ‘Japanese Palace’ in Dresden. Augustus planned to fill the palace with hundreds of life-sized painted porcelain figures of animals and birds, designed and created by his Meissen porcelain manufactory. Augustus was of course also an avid collector of live animals. Not content to rely on the traditional network of gift-giving between monarchs to obtain his creatures, he organised an African expedition in the early 1730s to collect wild game and birds. The beasts in his menageries served as models for the artists and craftsmen charged with creating his porcelain menagerie, a sort of still-life counterpoint to his live collections, as well as a powerful advertisement for his porcelain manufactory.

Although the Japanese Palace project was eventually abandoned after the death of Augustus the Strong, Meissen continued to make models of animals in smaller formats. The pair of lions offered here from circa 1751–53 were modelled by J. J. Kändler for the base of a planned equestrian statue for Augustus the Strong’s son, Augustus III.

The series of small figurines modelled as deer in various poses, a hunter, a hare and a fox were likely part of an intricate table setting. Hunting was an important part of life at the Saxon court, and banquets featuring game were regularly held. The porcelain figurines would have been part of a lavishly set dessert table, perhaps with a herd of deer being pursued by hunters, accompanied by sugar and marzipan sculptures and fountains.

Meissen figurines of all sorts of animals were quite popular in the 18th century, and included cats, dogs, and – still beloved more than 400 years after Frederick II and three centuries after Dürer – parrots. Royal menageries have evolved into state-run zoos, but China’s gift of two giant pandas to the United States following President Nixon’s visit in 1972 (and the return gift of two musk oxen to China) shows that this particular age-old tradition continues – and that animals still have a role to play in international relations.

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Catalogues with prices realised

Vue de l’entrée du bosquet du Labyrinthe avec des nymphes et des amours prenant des oiseaux dans leurs filets. © Château de Versailles
Click on the image to enlargen

The models probably by J.J. Kändler, circa 1736.
Estimate: CHF 5 600/6 200
Sold for CHF 7 000
Click on the image for more details

The giant pandas Ling Ling and Sing Sing.
Charles Tasnadi/Associated Press
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Portrait of a child, probably Prince Octavius
of Great Britain.
Oil on panel. 17.5 cm × 14.5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 12 000/18 000
Sold for CHF 49 000
Click on the image for more details

Determining the identity of the sitter in a portrait often involves what resembles detective work – clues are gathered, inferences made, and sometimes a likely identification can be made. In the case of the little boy depicted by Jean-Baptiste Greuze offered here, we do have two clues.

The first is a label which was originally on the back of the panel, inscribed ‘Eigenthum Ihrer Majestät der Königin Mathilde von Württemberg’ (Property of Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Württemberg). Charlotte Mathilde was the eldest daughter of King George III of Britain and his queen consort, Charlotte. The fact that this painting was in Charlotte Mathilde’s possession means that she not only took it with her when she married Frederick, future king of Württemberg when she was 33 years old, but also to Ludwigsburg Palace near Stuttgart when she settled there as dowager queen after Frederick’s death. To have kept this small portrait among her personal property during her entire life, the sitter must have meant a great deal to her.

The second clue lies in the physiognomy of the sitter. Dr Eberhard Fritz, archivist of the House of Württemberg, detected a strong resemblance, especially around the eyes, to portraits of some of the queen’s siblings. The most likely candidate is her youngest brother, Prince Octavius of Great Britain. Charlotte Mathilde was twelve years old when Octavius was born, and she was sixteen when he died suddenly at the age of four following a smallpox inoculation. His presence in her life came during a period when she could well have been attached to him almost as a child of her own, and have been strongly affected by his death.


Prince Octavius, September 1782.
Oil on canvas. 56.4 × 42 cm.
Royal Collection Trust.
Click on the image to enlargen

Octavius was also adored by his royal parents. His father was especially fond of him, and when Octavius died, King George was devastated. When his son Alfred died six months earlier, the king is reported to have said, ‘I am very sorry for Alfred, but had it been Octavius, I should have died too.’ Later in life, during his bouts of madness, the king imagined seeing Octavius, and holding conversations with both deceased sons.

Although Charlotte Mathilde never had children of her own, she was a devoted mother to Frederick’s three children from his first marriage, who were teenagers by the time Charlotte and Fredrick wed. Described by German writer Gustav Schwab as an ‘educated, artistically gifted, pious and warm-hearted woman’, the queen was involved in the founding of the Ludwigsburg Mathildenstift, a home for neglected children.

This cherished portrait was acquired by Judge Henry Martyn Shepard, whose ancestors were among the earliest English settlers in New England, probably during a European grand tour in 1859. It remained in his family’s possession in the U.S., until recently entering a European collection.

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Catalogues with prices realised


KOLLERview is published four times annually.

Next issue: November 2021.

KOLLERview 3-21

In this issue:

• Top 10 from our summer auctions
• A family influences an era
• Rembrandt: a genius on the brink
• Preview of our autumn auctions



Bouquet d'été. 1973.
Oil on canvas. 92 × 73 cm.
Sold for CHF 1.58 million

Tournant du Loing à Moret. 1896.
Oil on canvas. 60 × 73 cm.
Sold for CHF 1.01 million


Modern, Contemporary & Swiss Art, Jewellery, Watches
Auctions in Zurich, 30 June–2 July 2021


With over 1 000 bidders from 48 countries worldwide, Koller’s June/July auction series were a resounding success across all categories, with each department registering hammer prices well over the pre-sale estimates. World auction records were set for prints by Warhol, Lichtenstein, Alberto Giacometti, as well as for an oil painting by Ukrainian artist Abraham Manievich.

Impressionist & Modern Art
French impressionist & modern art was highly sought after in the 2 July auction, led by Marc Chagall’s classic ‘Bouquet d’été’, which garnered CHF 1.58 million (lot 3251). A seven-figure price was also realised for a landscape by Alfred Sisley, ‘Tournant du Loing à Moret’, 1896 (lot 3224, CHF 1.01 million). Two bronze sculptures with impeccable provenances also elicited highly competitive bidding: Auguste Rodin’s iconic ‘The Kiss’, which could be traced back to its exact casting date (lot 3218, CHF 925 000), and Ossip Zadkine’s ‘Les Trois Sœurs’, which remained in the artist’s personal collection until the end of his life (lot 3258, CHF 464 000). An 1891 small-format work by Edouard Vuillard, ‘Femme devant un vitrage’ (lot 3209), sold for ten times its estimate at CHF 317 000, and a landscape by Gustave Loiseau (lot 3210) quadrupled its estimate at CHF 244 000.

Five works from a private Swiss collection by Ukrainian émigré artist Abraham Manievich caused a sensation in the auction, all selling for multiples of their estimates. A winter scene from 1913, ‘Neige dans la forêt’ (lot 3213), set a new auction record for the artist at CHF 305 000. A work by Max Liebermann, ‘Study for the Net Menders’ (lot 3203), which belonged to the businessman and art collector Robert Neumann when he was forced to flee Nazi Germany, nearly tripled it estimate, selling for CHF 354 000. Two works by Paul Klee, ‘Kleine Landschaft’ (lot 3238) and ‘Côte de Provence 5’ (lot 3241) both sold for above their upper estimates at CHF 366 000 and CHF 342 000.

Lake Geneva seen from Chexbres. Circa 1911.

Oil on canvas. 68 × 90.5 cm.
Sold for CHF 2.56 million

The Kiss. 2ème réduction dite aussi 'réduction n°4'. 1886. Cast on 8 June 1905.
Bronze with brown patina. H 59.8 cm.
Sold for CHF 925 000

Swiss Art
Works by Ferdinand Hodler continued to elicit competitive bidding and strong prices in the 2 July auction of Swiss Art, such as the masterfully rendered ‘Lake Geneva seen from Chexbres’, 1911, which fetched CHF 2.56 million (lot 3035), and ‘Lake Thun seen from Breitlauenen’, 1906, which sold for CHF 1.14 million (lot 3029). All of the important paintings by Hodler in the auction found buyers, such as the striking portrait of Clara Pasche-Battié from 1914 (lot 3041, CHF 464 000), and the Orator from ‘Unanimity’ (lot 3038, CHF 427 000). Félix Vallotton’s ‘Falaise à Vasouy’, 1910 (lot 3044), nearly doubled its estimate at CHF 557 000. Albert Anker’s ‘Girl knitting by a window’ sold for above its upper estimate at CHF 1.4 million. And further works by Augusto Giacometti, Gottardo Segantini, and Adolf Dietrich fetched prices in the six-figure range, demonstrating the continued solidity of this market at Koller.

PostWar & Contemporary, Prints & Multiples
The Contemporary Art auction on 1 July was headed by a triptych by Alighiero Boetti, ‘Aeri’, 1984, which sold for above its upper estimate at CHF 366 000 (lot 3452), and a work by Andy Warhol from the ‘Toys’ series, ‘Terrier’ (lot 3455), that fetched CHF 200 000. There were six auction records set in the Prints & Multiples auction, including two for works by Andy Warhol: ‘Volkswagen’, 1985 (lot 3677, CHF 110 000), and ‘Pine Barrens Tree Frog’, 1983 (lot 3678, CHF 104 000), and ‘I Love Liberty’ by Roy Lichtenstein (lot 3688, CHF 85 700). Two further screenprints by Warhol, ‘Rebel Without a Cause (James Dean)’ and ‘Joseph Beuys’ (lots 3680 and 3681) each sold for CHF 146 000.

Watches, Jewellery
The auctions of Watches and Jewellery on 30 June were also unqualified successes, with hammer prices totalling 224% of the estimates for watches, and 114% for jewellery. A Burma ruby and diamond ring fetched CHF 810 000 against an estimate of CHF 180 000/280 000 (lot 2058). A rare Rolex Daytona ‘Paul Newman’ wristwatch (lot 2870) was the subject of an intense bidding war which pushed its price to over four times the estimate, selling for CHF 625 000.

You can see all catalogues with prices realised by clicking on the button below:

Catalogues with prices realised

Girl knitting by a window
(Une tricoteuse à la fenêtre). 1885.
Oil on canvas. 66 × 51 cm.
Sold for CHF 1.4 million

Set with very fine, red, cushion-shaped Burma ruby of 5.12 ct, not heated.
Sold for CHF 810 000



Aeri. 1983. (detail)

Pen on paper laid down on canvas (triptych).
70 × 150 cm.

Sold for CHF 366 000



Pine Barrens Tree Frog. 1983.

Colour screenprint. 27/150. 96.5 × 96.5 cm.

Sold for CHF 104 000

World auction record


Terrier (from: Toys series). 1983.

Synthetic polymer and screenprint inks on canvas.
35.5 × 28 cm.

Sold for CHF 201 000


Portrait of Clara Pasche-Battié. 1914.

Oil on canvas. 47.5 × 39.5 cm.

Sold for CHF 464 000


Les trois soeurs. 1926.

Bronze. Cast in 1926. 53 × 41 × 22 cm.

Sold for CHF 464 000


Lake Thun seen from Breitlauenen. 1906.

Oil and oil crayons on canvas. 103 × 89 cm.

Sold for CHF 1.14 million


Falaise à Vasouy. 1910.

Oil on canvas. 58 × 89 cm.

Sold for CHF 557 000


Neige dans la forêt. 1913. Oil on canvas. 135.5 × 132 cm.

Sold for CHF 305 000

World auction record


Study for the 'Net Menders'. 1887.

Oil on board on panel. 70 × 91 cm.

Sold for CHF 354 000


Femme devant un vitrage. Circa 1891.

Oil on board on panel. 19.3 × 17.2 cm.

Sold for CHF 317 000


Kleine Landschaft. 1915.

Watercolour and pencil on papier on board.
13.5 × 11.5 cm.

Sold for CHF 366 000


Very rare Daytona 'Paul Newman', ca. 1968.

Sold for CHF 626 000


LI KERAN (1907–1989)
The Mount Tai at Sunrise. 1957.
Ink and colours on paper. 62.5 × 138.5 cm.
Sold for CHF 2.39 million


Asian Art auctions in Zurich: 2 June 2021


The Asian Art auctions at Koller on 2 June realised more than 2 ½ times the pre-sale estimate. Enthusiastic bidding from Asia, Europe and North America – on the telephone, online and (unusual this past year) in the saleroom – pushed the prices of many works far beyond expectations, setting several records in the process.

A work by Li Keran completed during a visit to the East Germany in 1957 set a European auction record for the artist at CHF 2.39 million (lot 253, estimate CHF 150 000/250 000). Depicting a sunset over Mount Tai in the Shandong province of China, it was shown in a Berlin exhibition organised by the East German government in honour of Li’s visit, and was in the collection of Foreign Affairs minister Lothar Bolz before being acquired by the well-known collector Jerg Haas in the 1970s.

A thangka featuring a photorealistic depiction of the 13th Dalai Lama was the subject of an intense bidding battle resulting in a final price of CHF 511 000, more than twenty times its estimate and an auction record for a 20th-century thangka (lot 160, estimate CHF 25 000/35 000). It was from the collection of a German mountaineer and lover of Tibetan art, who purchased it in Nepal during the late 1960s / early 1970s.

Other highlights included a Zhou Dynasty bronze wine ewer dating from the Spring and Autumn period (8th – 5th centuries BCE) with a beautiful green and russet patina and an impeccable provenance: the prestigious G.F. Reber collection, Lugano. It sold for CHF 195 000 (lot 168, estimate CHF 60 000/80 000).

You can see all catalogues with prices realised by clicking on the button below:

Catalogues with prices realised

We are currently accepting consignments for our next Asian Art auctions in December 2021.




THUBTEN GYATSO (1876–1933)

Tibet, 1st half of the 20th c. 68 × 45 cm.

Sold for CHF 511 000



China, Ming dynasty, 17th c. H 48 cm.

Sold for CHF 80 000



China, Yuan/Ming dynasty, H 41 cm.

Sold for CHF 67 000



China, 18th/19th c. Ø 45.5 cm.

Sold for CHF 59 000



China, Zhou dynasty, Spring & Autumn period, L 26.5 cm.

Sold for CHF 195 000



Tibet, 18th/19th c. 101 × 71 cm. (detail)

Sold for CHF 61 000


KOLLERview is published four times annually.

Next issue: September 2021.

KOLLERView 2-21

In this issue:

• Rodin's 'The Kiss': from scandal to icon
• The odyssey of a Heckel portrait
• Klee between Tunis and Dessau
• Water worlds and magic mountains
• Organic mosaic



Saint Jerome in the wilderness.
Oil on panel. 47.1 × 40.4 cm.
Sold for CHF 2.44 million


Auctions in Zurich: 24–26 March 2021

Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings & Prints, Furniture, Porcelain, Books

St Jerome by van Dyck realises CHF 2.4 million
Old Masters hammer prices total 150% above pre-sale estimates

Koller’s Old Masters & 19th Century Paintings auction in Zurich on 26 March registered robust prices, with highly competitive bidding for many of the top lots, despite the fact that the sale had to be held without in-person bidding.

Anthony van Dyck’s St Jerome in the Wilderness, a fascinating, freely executed study which may have belonged to his mentor, Peter Paul Rubens, sold for CHF 2.4 million after a protracted bidding battle, well above pre-sale expectations of CHF 800 000/1 000 000 (lot 3027). A recently rediscovered mystical depiction of St Benedict by Filippino Lippi more than tripled its low estimate to sell to a Swiss collector for CHF 134 000 (lot 3002). A charming bucolic scene by Dutch master Roelant Savery (lot 3022) left one German private collection to enter another, also selling for more than three times its low estimate, at CHF 128 000. An impressive portrait of a young man attributed to the circle of Annibale Carracci (lot 3036) was one of the most successful lots of the day, selling for CHF 226 000.

The love letter. 1848.

Oil on canvas. 78 × 64.5 cm.
Sold for CHF 232 000

Portrait of a young man with a ruff collar.
Oil on canvas. 40.2 × 33.2 cm.
Sold for CHF 226 000

Among the 19th-century works, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller’s ‘The love letter’, a moody depiction of two young ladies by candlelight, sold for CHF 232 000 to a private Swiss collector (lot 3141). A landscape with figures by Waldmüller fetched CHF 73 000 (lot 3152). A vibrantly coloured view of Capri by Russian expatriate artist Konstantin Gorbatoff changed hands for more than double its estimate at CHF 134 000 (lot 3119), and a tranquil river view by Eugène Boudin (lot 3135) also doubled its estimate at CHF 104 000.

The results of this auction, especially the enthusiastic bidding for works such as the van Dyck, confirm what we have been seeing for the past year: despite the global upheaval caused by the pandemic in many sectors, the market for Old Masters – and the auction market in general – is in excellent health, especially for high-quality works’, commented Cyril Koller, CEO of Koller Auctions.

Koller’s sales during its spring auction week performed well across the board, with an overall hammer of 120% of the pre-sale estimates. Among the decorative arts, a pair of chests of drawers from the workshop of the Gebrüder Spindler sold for CHF 220 000 (lot 1087). The second part of the European porcelain collection of Siegfried Ducret realised impressive prices, such as CHF 98 000 for a Meissen Böttger stoneware teapot, estimated at CHF 15 000/25 000 (lot 1039). A first edition of Charles Darwin’s ‘The Origin of the Species’, the first example ever sold by an auction house in Continental Europe, changed hands for CHF 98 000 (lot 291).

You can see all catalogues with prices realised by clicking on the button below:

Catalogues with prices realised

Saint Benedict. Circa 1470–75.
Oil and tempera on panel. 63.3 × 23.3 cm.
Sold for CHF 134 000




Venus and Adonis.

Oil on canvas. 197.5 × 155 cm.

Sold for CHF 183 000



Cow reclining in a landscape. 1604.

Oil on panel. D 17.5 cm.

Sold for CHF 128 000



Bouquet of flowers in a porcelain vase.

Oil on copper. 28.4 × 23.2 cm.

Sold for CHF 122 000




A group of people on the Prater. 1833.

Oil on panel. 31 × 25.5 cm.

Sold for CHF 73 000



Rococo, Potsdam circa 1765. 134 × 66 × 82.5 cm.

Sold for CHF 220 000



Models by Johann Joachim Kändler circa 1733/34.
H 25.5 cm (28.5 cm).

Sold for CHF 103 000


KOLLERview is published four times annually.

Next issue: June 2021.

KOLLERView 1-21

In this issue:

• Filippino Lippi's St Benedict
• Van Dyck's St Jerome
• By Candlelight
• Prussian grandeur
• Results of the December auctions




The reunification of an altarpiece by Battista di Biagio Sanguigni

previously known as MASTER OF 1419
(active circa 1393 Florence 1451)
Two panels with Saints John the Baptist and
Anthony Abbot as well as James the Greater and Maurus.
Tempera and gold ground on panel. 98.5 × 48.2 cm and 98.5 × 46.8 cm.

The three works by Florentine artist Battista di Bagio Sanguigni (active ca. 1393–1451) offered in the Old Master Paintings auction (lots 3006 and 3007) represent a remarkable stroke of chance, as well as a glimpse into a fascinating period in the history of art.

During a recent visit to a private collection in Germany, Koller’s old master paintings specialist Karoline Weser spotted the centre panel of an early Italian Renaissance triptych by Sanguigni, depicting the Madonna and Child. While reading an accompanying article, she suddenly recognized the corresponding side wings, which had recently been consigned for auction from a Swiss private collection. Both owners had independently decided to offer the works in the very same auction at Koller, allowing the triptych to be reconstructed – an extraordinary coincidence.


previously known as MASTER OF 1419
(active circa 1393 Florence 1451)
Madonna and Child with the donor and family in adoration.
Tempera and gold ground on panel. 91.3 × 53.4 cm.

Sanguigni was active in Florence at a crucial moment in the history of European painting, when certain artists such as Fra Angelico (ca. 1400–1455) and Masolino da Panicale (1383–ca. 1447) were making the first steps from the formal, static International Gothic style to the more naturalistic painting of the early Renaissance. Sanguigni probably trained in the studio of Lorenzo Monaco (1370–1425), the most famous International Gothic artist, but he came to know his contemporary Fra Angelico early on, from at least 1417. The two artists, along with Sanguigni’s protégé and colleague Zanobi Strozzi (1412–1468), worked together on numerous projects over the years. Elements of this new style of painting, which can also be seen in Fra Angelico’s work of this time, include a certain spatial balance and amplitude in the composition, as well as the modelling of the flesh tones of the faces, as the artist experiments with rendering light.

We also know who commissioned this work, dated to circa 1430, thanks to a tax document from 1430, in which Sanguigni claims he was owed fifty florins by the estate of Jacopo di Niccolà Corbizzi for a painting, the description of which corresponds to the ones offered here. The figure with white hair and beard in the lower right of the central panel may well be a portrait of Corbizzi himself. The presence of Benedictine nuns on the lower left of the same panel are an indication that Corbizzi may have ordered the triptych upon the occasion of one of his daughters entering the Benedictine order. It was customary to offer such a gift when one’s daughter entered a convent.


Depiction of the three panels in the exhibition catalogue 'Fra Angelico' by Laurence B. Kanter and Pia Palladino.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2005.

After being separated for hundreds of years, the three elements of this triptych can once again be observed side-by-side, providing historians with further information about Sanguigni and the important period in which he worked.



When gilt bronze was worth its weight in gold

The 19th-century fashion for French decorative arts in Britain

A pair of Louis XVI gilt and patinated
bronze candelabra (detail).
Paris, circa 1770–1780. 39 × 27 × 69 cm.

In the 19th century, a fashion arose – especially among a well-to-do British clientele – for collecting the finest furniture and gilt bronzes of the French ancien régime, particularly of the Louis XVI period. This trend developed slowly: in the 18th century, the arts and fashion were so closely entwined that it would have been unthinkable to furnish one’s residence with works from a previous decade, let alone century. When a certain type of furniture went out of style, it was put into storage and forgotten. In the early 19th century, a few high-calibre collectors regularly purchased French decorative art masterpieces, but they were more or less limited to inveterate Francophiles such as George, Prince of Wales, the future George IV (1762–1830), George Watson Taylor (1771–1841) and the fabulously wealthy Francis Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford (1777–1842).

By the 1850s, however, Louis XVI furnishings were quickly becoming de rigueur for a large part of the British upper classes, spurred by several landmark exhibitions in London and Paris, such as Specimens of Cabinet Work at Gore House in London in 1853, the Special Exhibition of Works of Art at the South Kensington Museum in 1863, and Musée rétrospectif: la Renaissance et les temps modernes in 1865 in Paris. In spite of significant gaps in the connoisseurship of 18th-century furniture and bronze makers, two names had a magic appeal for these collectors: that of the cabinetmaker Jean-Henri Riesener (1734–1806), and the bronze gilder and chaser Pierre Gouthière (1732–1813).


A Louis XVI jasper and gilt bronze perfume burner.
Paris, circa 1773–1775.
Purchased at the Duc d'Aumont auction
in 1782 by Marie-Antoinette.
Wallace Collection, London.

Both artisans were very well-known in their day, but Gouthière’s once stellar reputation had somewhat fallen into oblivion until an 1830s lawsuit brought by his heirs against those of Madame du Barry was copiously reported in the French and British press. During the court hearings, the legendary 1782 auction of the possessions of the Duc d’Aumont, his greatest patron, was cited, along with the fact that Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette purchased numerous works by Gouthière in this sale (the bronzier’s fame was such that in the auction catalogue, each piece by Gouthière was marked with the letter G).

This association with the King and Queen of France in the minds of mid- to late 19th century collectors sealed Gouthière’s reputation (although in reality the bronze chaser did relatively little work directly for the royal couple), and his works became the gold standard for gilt bronze. At one point, practically every piece of furniture with high-quality bronze mounts, and every candelabrum or vase with excellent chasing and matt gilding was attributed to Gouthière. At the Gore House exhibition, even a cabinet by Riesener on loan from Queen Victoria was catalogued as being “a noble work of the French cabinet-maker, Gouthier (sic).” Lord Hertford’s son, the 4th Marquess, immediately ordered a splendid copy to made by the firm of John Webb for his own collection.

The pair of candelabra in the March auction (lot 1178) is a splendid example of the workmanship of Gouthière, and in observing the extremely fine details, particularly of the lion and Medusa masks on the base, one gets a sense of the virtuoso craftsmanship that so thoroughly charmed those 19th-century collectors seeking the very finest of French neoclassical decorative arts.


KOLLERview is published four times annually.

Next issue: March 2021.

KOLLERView 4-20

In this issue:

• In the name of friendship
• An obsession with landscape
• Umbrellas on two continents
• Variation, Series, Continuation
• A passion for Chinese painting



The Art of Stealing

Marcel Duchamp's 'Fountain', illustrated in the Dada journal The Blind Man in 1917.

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal” – T.S. Eliot

Appropriation art, using pre-existing images or objects and subtly transforming them, is often said to have begun with Marcel Duchamp’s 'readymades' in the early 20th century. Readymades are found objects, such as the porcelain urinal signed 'R. Mutt' placed on a pedestal and entitled 'Fountain', which Duchamp submitted to the Society of Independent Artists exhibition in New York in 1917. 'Fountain' eventually came to be recognized as a seminal work of modern art, and already in 1917 an article in the Dada journal The Blind Man stated: 'Whether Mr Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new thought for that object'.

Obviously, artists have always appropriated, copied, or stolen ideas and motifs from others. But to do so in a culture where the mere accusation of plagiarism is enough to destroy a career (or Joseph Biden’s first U.S. presidential campaign in 1987), and to do so consciously and with the goal of replacing the image in a new context or otherwise transforming it into something new, is a relatively modern concept.


Richard Pettibone
(Los Angeles 1938–lives and works in New York)
Andy Warhol 'Campbell's Soup Can: Cream of Mushroom Soup'. 1987. Acrylic and screenprint on canvas.

In his Campbell’s soup can series, Richard Pettibone takes appropriation art to another level – by copying an image from Andy Warhol, who had himself appropriated the image from another source. Pettibone first met Warhol in 1965, and the pop artist was amused by Pettibone’s small-scale versions of his celebrated soup cans. As Pettibone later put it, ‘He was already copying, so why not copy the copy?’. Through subtle differences, and especially by leaving the traces of the artist’s hand which Warhol sought to efface in his own graphically-inspired compositions, Pettibone creates something new out of Warhol’s series, by holding a distorting mirror up to another mirror.

In the 5 December auction, a 'Campbell's Soup' screenprint by Warhol will also be offered.


Sylvie Fleury
(Geneva 1961–lives and works in Geneva)
Concetto spaziale. 1995. Jeans, ripped.
Auction 5 December 2020
Sold for CHF 5 500

Sylvie Fleury often uses elements from fashion and haute couture to inject some femininity into the often male-dominated art world. In “Concetto Spaziale”, Fleury substitutes blue denim for the slashed canvas famously employed by Lucio Fontana, making a reference to the fashion cult of ripped jeans and at the same time recasting the iconic image in the light of consumer culture.


(Bristol 1974 – lebt und arbeitet u.a. in England)
Love Welcomes Mat.
Multiple. Welcome mat and remains of a life vest.
Auction 5 December 2020
Sold for CHF 6 250

Banksy is perhaps the most famous living appropriation artist, and his 'Love Welcomes Mat' continues the tradition of Duchamp’s ready-mades. In this work, he uses the remains of a life vest combined with a hand-stitched welcome mat and produced by women in refugee camps to call attention to the plight of migrants. Banksy often subverts paintings or uses images of famous works, such as Vermeer’s 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' (transformed into 'Girl with a Pierced Eardrum'), in order to convey an anti-war or anti-establishment message. He is also featured in this auction with 'Rude Copper', his earliest commercially released screenprint.

KOLLERview is published four times annually.

Next issue: November 2020.

Click & Read

In this issue:

• The art of transformation
• When art meets politics
• Green retreat
• Great resonance
• Battle-proven arsenal



The scene is imaginary, but the butterflies are real

Carl Wilhelm de Hamilton (1668–1754)
A pair: Forest floor with squirrel and insects / Forest floor with barn owl. Oil on canvas. 72 x 56 cm each (one shown).

At first view, the three paintings by Carl Wilhelm de Hamilton (Brussels 1668–1754 Augsburg) in the 25 September auction (lots 3071 and 3074) appear to be charming depictions of the busy life on a forest floor: squirrels, snakes, snails and lizards go about their food-gathering amidst a profusion of leafy plants and mushrooms. But one aspect of these works makes them startlingly unique: the butterflies were originally actual specimens, glued to the canvas.

In these paintings, de Hamilton employed a genre known as the forest-floor still life, or sottobosco, developed in the mid-17th century by Dutch painter Otto Marseus van Schrieck (ca. 1613–1678). Marseus lived on the outskirts of Amsterdam in a marshy area known as the “land of snakes”. He spent a large amount of his time observing and capturing specimens of reptiles, insects and amphibians – so much so that his wife claimed that the snakes began posing for him!

Marseus was apparently just as interested in the scientific and natural aspects of this ground-level population as in their potential as artistic subjects. He lived in an age when scientific theories were debated and discussed throughout learned society, such as the prevalent belief in spontaneous generation, which held that certain animals and plants, particularly “low beings” like snakes, toads and mushrooms, could arise from non-living matter – such as maggots generating from rotting flesh.


Detail of the above painting, showing how the butterflies appear today...

The painter and amateur scientist effectively crossed the line between science and art when he glued the scales of actual butterfly wings to his canvas. The technique consisted of making a wing-shaped reserve using a white, probably lead-based adhesive as an imprimatura. Then the wings were pressed onto this reserve, causing the scales to adhere to the canvas, with the white background enhancing the shimmering colours. The effect must have been enchanting. Today, due to the fading of the butterfly scales’ colours, the wings appear to be white, unless they have been overpainted.


... and the colours they may have had originally.

Marseus had numerous followers, and Carl Wilhelm de Hamilton was one of the most influential in spreading the sottobosco genre Marseus had invented, since he migrated from Belgium to Germany, where he worked as court painter in several cities. Microscopic examinations of the present works by researcher V.E. Mandrij have revealed the remains of the original butterfly scales which Hamilton applied, as well as some coloured glaze that the artist added, probably to complete the areas where some scales were lacking. Hamilton also imitated Marseus’s technique of using actual lichen and moss instead of a paintbrush to represent such vegetation.


Carl Wilhelm de Hamilton (1668–1754)
Forest floor still life (detail).
Oil on panel. 47.2 x 34 cm.

An interesting aspect of both Marseus’ and Hamilton’s work is that despite the obvious symbolic opportunities that such compositions afford (the Greek word for butterfly, psyche, also signifies “soul”, so a snake or a toad snapping up a butterfly conjures a world of moralising possibilities) the artists seemed to be more interested in depicting real animals and plants, devoid of any hidden meaning, for the pleasure of recreating – or creating – an intimate moment on the forest floor.

The work of Marseus and his followers was subsequently almost completely forgotten, and it was not until the 1991 installation “In and Out of Love” by Damien Hirst that actual butterflies would make their reappearance in the world of art.


Behind the canvas: Love and scandal in Georgian Britain

Seymour Dorothy Fleming (1757–1818) as Lady Worsley.
Portrait by Joshua Reynolds, 1776 (detail).
Harewood House Trust, Yorkshire.

The portrait of John Lewis Fleming (1779–1836) offered in our 25 September auction (lot 3083) is of interest not only for its attribution to Sir Thomas Lawrence, one of the greatest British portrait painters, but also for Fleming’s association with one of the most famous women in late 18th-century England: his wife, Seymour Dorothy Fleming (1757–1818).

Seymour Fleming, headstrong heiress to a small fortune, married Sir Richard Worsley when she was seventeen. Worsley was from an old aristocratic family, and in need of greater wealth to improve his position in London society. They had a son together, Robert Edwin, but Lady Worsley soon felt neglected and restless, and embarked on a series of affairs, including one with a neighbour and close friend of Sir Richard’s, Captain George Maurice Bissett. The relationship with Bissett soon became serious (in August 1781 Lady Worsley gave birth to a daughter which was purported to be Bissett’s), and in November 1781 Seymour eloped with her lover. This was an audacious act for the time – most ladies of her standing would have simply carried on the affair while their husbands turned a blind eye, as apparently Worsley had done until then – but she probably hoped that such a bold move would persuade her husband would grant her a divorce.


A satirical print from 1782 mocking the humiliating verdict of one shilling in damages handed over to Lord Worsley.
Etching published by Hannah Humphrey.
© The Trustees of the British Museum.

The effect was just the opposite – furious at the public betrayal by a friend, Worsley sued Bissett for what was called Criminal Conversation, a civil suit for damages in compensation for the seduction of one’s wife. He also refused to grant Seymour a divorce and demanded the unprecedented sum of £20 000, which would have ruined Bissett financially. Worsley seemed to have an open-and-shut case, with letters and witnesses, but Seymour was not one to be defeated so easily. She adopted the novel if somewhat reckless defence of exposing intimate details of the couple’s private life during the trial, with witnesses recounting episodes of Sir Richard’s voyeurism and encouragement of his wife’s infidelities. She succeeded: instead of £20 000, the jury awarded Worsley the humiliating sum of one shilling, and he became the mockery of all England, forcing him flee the hounding of the popular press through an extended journey to the Middle East.

But Seymour also became a social pariah. No one in the polite British society of the time could associate with someone who had so openly publicised their scandalous acts, and she found herself shunned by many of her former friends and family. Once again Seymour refused to bow to her fate, however, and along with other ladies in a similar position, she became a member of the demi-monde who met socially under the name of the “New Female Coterie”. Bissett eventually left her, as there was no possibility of marriage – Worsley did not even sign a separation agreement until six years after the trial, with the clause that Seymour leave England for four years. She moved to Paris, where women of her reputation were more socially accepted, but within a year of her arrival the Revolution broke out. Swept up in the Reign of Terror, Seymour probably spent some time in a French prison before finally returning to England in 1797, very ill and in a precarious financial situation.


Attributed to Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830).
Portrait of John Lewis Fleming (1779–1836).
Oil on canvas. 76.5 × 63.8 cm.
Sold for CHF 25 000

Sometime during this period, Seymour met and fell in love with John Louis Hummell (born Cuchet), a Geneva-born musician who had been somewhat of a child prodigy, even performing for King George III and Queen Charlotte at the age of nine. Their age difference was considerable, but there seems to have been a real affection between the two. When Worsley died in 1805 and Seymour finally came into possession of his estate, they married and Hummell changed his name to John Lewis Fleming; Seymour also took back her maiden name. The present portrait was most likely commissioned by Seymour from the most fashionable portrait painter of the day as a sort of advertisement of her new husband’s arrival in society (the musician, although at ease in upper social circles, was not nobly born).

Two years after Seymour’s death in 1818, Fleming – who had inherited Seymour’s fortune – married a French noblewoman, Ernestine Jeanne Marie de Houdetot (1796–1836). Their daughter married a Bernese patrician, Dyonis Bernhard Friedrich von Graffenried (1815–1886), and so the painting came to Switzerland, where it has remained in the same family ever since. John Lewis Fleming’s last wish was to be buried next to his first wife, Seymour Dorothy Fleming, in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.


“Le goût Rothschild” in a time capsule

A view of the interior of the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild. The present table is visible in the center left.

The “table d’accouchée” to be offered in our 24 September auction (lot 1050), belonged to Adèle de Rothschild (1843–1922), a member of one of the most fabulously wealthy families in history. The Rothschild family, whose wealth derived from banking and finance, were avid collectors, and their collecting preferences and decorating style became known in the latter half of the 19th century as “le goût Rothschild” (the Rothschild taste). Their Renaissance-style palatial homes filled with the finest selection of (mostly French) antiques, gilding, heavy fabrics and carved boiseries set a new standard, and were emulated by later generations of high-wealth individuals such as the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Duponts and Gettys.

In Paris in 1862, Adèle de Rothschild wed her cousin, Salomon de Rothschild (1835–1864), who died of a heart attack just two years later. Salomon’s impetuosity and financial extravagance often caused difficulties with the rest of his family, but he was also a dedicated and passionate collector, amassing an impressive number of high-quality books, photographs, paintings, sculpture, decorative arts and Middle Eastern art, especially during the two years following his marriage to Adèle. After her husband’s death, Adèle, aged twenty-one, led a somewhat reclusive existence for the next half-century, although there is some evidence – not least invoices for significant amounts of cognac and cigars – that she continued to lead an active, if highly selective, social life within her residence. She supported the arts throughout her lifetime, and was an early patron of Alphonse Mucha, for example, sponsoring his first visit to the United States in 1904.


A Louis XV rosewood and pupleheart marquetry
"table d'accouchée". Paris, circa 1750/60.

From 1872 Adèle oversaw the construction of a large mansion in the Monceau district of Paris, the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, designed to house and display the collections of her late husband as well as those of her father, Mayer Carl von Rothschild. The present table was a part of the sumptuous décor of the Hôtel Rothschild and is a typical example of the fine quality of the family’s legendary furniture collections. The “table d’accouchée” is one of several French furniture forms invented in the mid-18th century which corresponded to a shift during the period of Louis XV from the quite exposed manner of living at Versailles under the previous reign towards more intimate private apartments. The upper section lifts off and is designed to be used while reclining in one’s bed, as a lectern, writing desk or dining tray.

Today, according to the wishes of Adèle de Rothschild, the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild houses a foundation dedicated to artists and the arts, and one room has been carefully preserved and is open to the public, the Cabinet of Curiosities. Containing over 400 works of art, it is an excellent example of the “goût Rothschild” and a fascinating time capsule from a period when collectors with means could fully satisfy their passion for extraordinary works of art.


The Association of Swiss Youth Parliaments is celebrating its 25th anniversary by leaving a lasting mark: 25 trees will be planted, symbolising 25 years of the promotion of political participation and political education of children and young adults.

Take part in the auction of the 25 trees via Koller Auctions and support Swiss youth politics! Bidding begins on 5 October 2020, on our “ibid online only” auction page. The sale closes on 23 October 2020.




A painting from the "Golden Age"

Old Master paintings specialist Karoline Weser presents a landscape by one of the most important artists of the Golden Age of Dutch painting, Salomon van Ruysdael.

Heavenly wonder

The minute workings of this fascinating astronomical clock are revealed by Furniture & Decorative Arts specialist Stephan Koller.


KOLLERview is published four times annually.

Next issue: September 2020.

Click & Read

In this issue:

• The power of the series
• From the abstract to the figurative
• View to infinity
• Osmosis between Surrealism and reality
• Year-round precision
• Turquoise – popular all over the world
• Collecting as a private passion
• Enlightenment and wordly succour



Hundertwasser – artist, architect, environmental activist

The Quixote Winery, Napa Valley, California.
Photo: Treve Johnson

Carl Doumani, owner of the Quixote Winery under construction in Napa Valley, California, was excited to show its architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, his latest acquisition: a series of fragile, tile-inlaid columns designed by Hundertwasser and custom-made in Germany, which amazingly had all arrived intact. Hundertwasser observed the columns, and immediately took a hammer and smashed one to pieces. “If they don’t see that we use broken materials, they’ll never know”, said the artist.

This devotion to imperfection, so typical of Hundertwasser (1928–2000), stems from his profound and intimate relationship to nature. Well-known as an iconoclastic painter and architect, Hundertwasser would have been equally pleased to be remembered as a tireless environmental activist. A pioneer in this field, Hundertwasser never relented in his struggle to incorporate nature in our everyday lives, and to consider close contact with nature as essential to our physical and mental well-being.


Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928–2000)
Der gelbe Platz - Flugplatz. 1958.
Watercolour and varnish on wrapping paper,
primed with chalk.
Sold for CHF 195 000

His childhood in Vienna was profoundly marked by the rise of Nazism and the Second World War. His mother was Jewish, and he had to pass for a Catholic in order to escape the fate of many of his other relatives. He found his solace in nature, and for the rest of his life waged war against the “godless and immoral” straight line, absent in nature and all too present in the military parades of his youth.

The tension between the natural world and man’s unnatural attempts to subvert it is omnipresent in Hundertwasser’s art, architecture and writings: first published in 1958, his “Mouldiness manifesto against rationalism in architecture” maintains that one should welcome mould and rust in habitations, because “life is moving into the house, and through this process we can more consciously become witnesses of architectural changes from which we have much to learn”.

In the work presented here, “Der gelbe Platz – Flugplatz” (The yellow square – airfield), 1958, this tension is clearly evident in the composition, separated into two parts by a horizontal line. In the upper section, nature is given its deserved importance, symbolized by a complete spiral surrounded by greenery. The harmony of the upper section is cruelly absent in the lower half, with its broken spiral, the incursion of man-made elements like smoking factories, and a general atmosphere of incompleteness. The spiral was very important in Hundertwasser’s worldview. “I am convinced that the act of creation took place in the form of a spiral,” he wrote. “Our whole life proceeds in spirals”.

For Hundertwasser, a home – and by extension, a world – which leaves no place for nature is quite simply uninhabitable. He devoted his entire life, through his art, architecture and activism, to increasing the amount of spaces where humans may not only live, but thrive, in harmony with nature.

Upcoming auctions:
5 December – Prints & Multiples
5 December – PostWar & Contemporary



Chamberlain and César

John Chamberlain (1927–2011)
Kiss #14. 1979.
Painted steel. 68.5 x 59.5 x 61 cm.
Sold for CHF 526 000.

The sculptures of American artist John Chamberlain (1927–2011) and those of French artist César (1921–1998) are often considered to be of the same artistic trend. But however much they may appear to be similar, the artistic process and philosophy behind their works are quite different.

Chamberlain’s main early influences were the works of first generation of abstract expressionists, particularly the sculptures of David Smith, as well as the paintings of Franz Kline and of Chamberlain’s friend and mentor, Willem de Kooning. He hit upon the idea of using old car parts in the mid-1950s while staying at a friend’s house on Long Island, the painter Larry Rivers, who had parts from a 1929 Ford in his yard. Chamberlain repeatedly ran over the rusty metal fenders with a truck, eventually transforming them into “Shortstop” (1957), his first car-parts sculpture.

“Shortstop” created a sensation, and by the early 1960s Chamberlain was already a well-known figure in the art world. Speaking later of these early sculptures, Chamberlain said, "I found myself working with a certain spontaneity. I was trying to attach the top part of (a sculpture) to the lower half, but when I put it in the right place, it connected up in three different places, so it told me how to put it together". This aptly describes an important aspect of Chamberlain’s artistic process – his sculptures are actually a form of collage, in the Surrealist tradition where many Abstract Expressionists took their inspiration. For Chamberlain and other artists such as de Kooning and Jackson Pollock, the act and manner of creation were as important if not more so than the work itself or the materials that composed it.


César (César Baldaccini) (1921–1998)
Compression Evian. 1990.
Compression with various plastic bottles.
30 x 21 x 21 cm. Unique work.
Sold for CHF 8 700.

César was a member of the New Realists, who were much closer to Dada, the forerunner of the Surrealist movement. César came from from a very humble background, and began using found objects out of lack of access to more expensive materials, but the components of his sculptures – as in many of the works of his fellow New Realists – almost always had a political and/or sociological significance. His “Compression Evian” illustrated here is an overt commentary on our consumer society, whereas Chamberlain, despite the seemingly obvious associations with cars as a symbol of American consumer culture, consistently declined to define his works as political statements. Abstract Expressionism was in some ways more self-centred than other artistic movements, and it was precisely this self-seriousness that the New Realists took every opportunity to poke fun at: as with Niki de Saint-Phall’s “shooting paintings”, where artists could fire a rifle at bags of paint attached to a canvas and produce a ready-made Pollock-type drip painting.


John Chamberlain (1927–2011)
Grass Skirt Opus. 2002.
Painted and chromed steel. 41 x 33 x 32 cm.

Another salient aspect of Chamberlain’s work was colour. In the 1950s, most contemporary sculpture was monochrome, and Chamberlain’s bright, glossy colours were like an explosion on the art scene. At first they were inherent to the car parts he used, but later on the artist didn’t hesitate to add colour, sometimes painting the pieces before they were dismantled and after reassembling them, sanding or scraping off areas to obtain the desired effect. While colour was certainly also important for César, it is difficult to imagine him altering the colours of the found objects that made up his sculptures.


César (César Baldaccini) (1921–1998)
Painted sheet metal. 31 x 31 x 16 cm.
Sold for CHF 24 700

One thing that Chamberlain and César certainly do have in common is that they are both well known – as artists often are – for only one aspect of their work. Both artists were highly talented and diverse and worked in a wide variety of media – Chamberlain even made underground films in the 1960s in the style of Warhol – but in the public’s mind they are associated with one thing: compressed sculptures. Perhaps future retrospective exhibitions will lead to a greater understanding of the work of these two artists and the fascinating period in which they lived.

Upcoming auctions
5 December – Prints & Multiples
5 December – PostWar & Contemporary



Safe Havens: Artists' Gardens

Fabio Sidler

Max Liebermann in his garden in Wannsee circa 1922.
© Max Liebermann Society.

As soon as the first measures to contain Covid19 in Switzerland were lifted, there was a rush to the garden centres. Apart from cooking, gardening was probably the most popular occupation during the lockdown in many parts of the world. The garden has always been considered a refuge, a safe haven. This is also clearly reflected in European cultural history: from the 15th century onwards around Florence, the culture of the country home, or villa, was revived, following ancient Roman models. Far away from the city, the Medici and many other powerful merchants and politicians established magnificent rural estates with well-kept gardens, now known as Renaissance gardens. Here they created spaces where they exchanged ideas with intellectuals about literature, art and philosophy. In Boccaccio's Decameron, for example, ten young people meet in such a place to self-isolate from the plague and to pass the time by telling stories.

It is striking how many important Impressionist and Modern artists also had private country homes with beautiful gardens. The most famous example is probably Monet's garden in Giverny. Jackie Bennett's book The Artists' Garden (White Lion Publishing, 2019), shows more than 20 gardens by world-famous artists. They are by turns a source of inspiration, an open-air studio and a secret retreat. Many of these places can still be visited by the public today.

In our auctions of 19 June and 3 July we offer some beautiful examples of such garden views:


Max Liebermann (1847–1935)
Flowerbed in the Wannsee garden viewed towards the north. 1918. Oil on board. Sold for CHF 488 000.

Max Liebermann
In 1909 Max Liebermann acquired a property at Wannsee, which he lovingly called his "castle on the lake" including a villa and garden house. The flower terrace and the kitchen garden of the summer house on the Wannsee lake are the subject of a large series of garden paintings that substantially shaped the late work of the German Impressionist. Liebermann had the gardens regularly enlarged, seeking advice from the director of the Hamburger Kunsthalle Alfred Lichtwark and others, and thus created a personal open-air studio. From 1914 onwards, he made intensive use of this new inspiration, and the constantly changing plantings, colourful flowers, lush greens of the meadow and trees and various viewpoints provide an endless variety of motifs. In all, he created about 200 paintings and several drawings of his garden, showing its splendour from all points of view. It is not surprising that Liebermann liked to spend a great deal of time here, especially during the First World War and the Great Depression following it.


Henri Martin (1860–1943)
Pergola Nord-Ouest de Marquayrol en fin d'automne.
1910–20. Oil on canvas.

Henri Martin
After 10 years of searching for the perfect country house, in 1900 Henri Martin finally purchased a large 17th-century villa called Marquayrol in the village of Labastide-du-Vert in southwest France. The house and the region became Martin's summer holiday resort, where he escaped from the big city of Paris between May and November to enjoy the serenity of nature.


Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1860–1943)
Dans le jardin des Collettes à Cagnes. Circa 1910.
Oil on canvas. Sold for CHF 360 000.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
In 1907, Renoir bought the estate "Les Collettes" in Cagnes on the Mediterranean near Nice. He moved there in autumn 1908. The villa, with its picturesque farmhouse, olive and orange groves and views of the hilly landscape, offered the artist many subjects for his late landscapes. In these, Renoir succeeded in creating a silvery light similar to that of Camille Corot, whom he greatly admired, as seen in Corot’s French landscapes around 1850. The painting offered here is a particularly fine example by Renoir, harmoniously finished and therefore, unlike many other late landscapes, signed by hand.


Albert Marquet (1875–1947)
Arbre en fleurs devant Alger. Circa 1943.
Oil on canvas.

Albert Marquet
During the Second World War, Albert Marquet and his wife Marcelle remained in Algiers, and in 1941, just outside the city, they bought a parcel of land called Djenan Sidi Saïd, which Marcelle translated as "The Garden of the Happy Lord".

Upcoming Auctions, Fine Art
  4 December –  Impressionist & Modern Art
  4 December –  Swiss Art
  5 December –  PostWar & Contemporary, Prints & Multiples



Pirates, Piety and Power:
The story of the extraordinary Roentgen workshop that almost never existed.

An 18th-century Moravian missionary ship.

Abraham Roentgen was on a ship bound for the colony of North Carolina. The year was 1737, and the young German cabinetmaker had left everything behind – his young wife, recovering from illness after a stillborn birth, and a promising career in London making furniture for a wealthy British clientele – in order to do missionary work for the Moravian Bretheren, to which he had recently converted. But suddenly, the trip had to be aborted when Spanish pirates attacked the ship. After a being stranded on the Irish coast for several weeks, Roentgen made his way back to his wife, and decided to pursue his cabinetmaking career on the solid land of Germany.


Workshop of Abraham and David Roentgen
A finely inlaid harlequin desk.
Neuwied, circa 1765/68. Sold for CHF 73 000.

Abraham (1711–1791) and his son David Roentgen (1743–1807) went on to establish the most successful furniture business in the 18th century – but one has to wonder if this ever would have happened had those pirates chosen another ship to attack. When the Count of Neuwied invited the Moravians (or Herrnhuter as they were known in Germany) to settle in his city in 1750, Abraham Roentgen moved his business there, where it would remain for the next fifty years.

Among the special privileges the Count granted to the bretheren were exemptions to the limit of the number of workers in a given workshop, as well as to the strict division of labour among the guilds. These liberties allowed Roentgen to rapidly develop his business by increasing the number of workers as needed, and by employing the finest master craftsmen for all of the elements of his furniture – including casework, carving, turning, and bronze mounts – thus giving him complete control over the quality of his factory’s workmanship.


Detail of the marquetry on the above Roentgen harlequin desk.

Roentgen’s furniture soon found favour amongst the German nobility. He not only introduced fashionable forms and techniques acquired during his time in England, but also included ingenious mechanisms combined with some of the finest inlay and marquetry work available, as in the present example. David joined his father’s workshop as a teenager, and together they built a solid reputation for producing luxury furniture.

By the end of the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), however, the finances of the company reflected the disarray that Europe found itself in, and the Roentgens needed to expand their clientele. They travelled to London to examine the possibility of establishing a workshop there, and despite their dire financial straits returned with a large quantity of exotic woods and mounts.

These expenditures, as well as the Roentgens’ practice of producing expensive pieces on speculation rather than on order, made the Herrnhuter community nervous about the numerous loans they had made to the workshop. The bretheren not only put a stop to future financing, but excluded David from religious rites.


The "Neuwied Cabinet", the most expensive piece of furniture of the 18th century.
© Photo: Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Photographer: Stephan Klonk

Faced with this crisis, David hit upon a novel but risky idea: he would hold a lottery to sell their stock of luxury items. Confident in the fascination for gambling prevalent among Europe’s elite of that time, and despite the fact that such practice was contrary to the brotherhood’s beliefs, David set out on a promotional tour throughout major German cities, advertising “Neuwied work” as a must-have luxury brand. The first prize was a magnificent chinoiserie bureau-cabinet with a carillon clock.

The lottery, held in Hamburg in 1769, was a complete success: all of the tickets were sold, and the Roentgen manufactory’s reputation spread throughout Europe.

Over the next thirty years, David Roentgen sold the workshop’s creations to the most powerful figures in Europe, reasoning that if the regent purchased their furniture, their courtiers and other wealthy subjects would follow suit. The stratagem worked splendidly, and Roentgen approached rulers such as Marie-Antoinette, Louis XVI and Catherine the Great with supreme confidence, often custom-making extremely costly pieces before knowing whether or not they would consent to purchase them.

To Frederick William II, King of Prussia, Roentgen sold a bureau-cabinet for the incredible sum of 13 000 gold thaler, making it the most expensive piece of furniture ever sold in the 18th century.


Portrait of David Roentgen, circa 1785-90.
Roentgen Museum, Neuwied

Furniture pieces from the Roentgens such as the harlequin table offered in the 18 June auction are witnesses to the ingenuity and superb craftsmanship of this unique workshop, as well as to the prevalent taste of the ruling classes during the Age of Enlightenment. At the end of his long career, David Roentgen, like his father before him, retired amongst the Herrnhuter bretheren with which he finally was reconciled, and his diplomatic skills and extensive connections occasionally served the Prussian court. His legacy would live on as a model to be emulated by furniture manufacturers throughout the 19th century and beyond.

Upcoming auctions, Fine Furniture & Decorative Art
24 September 2020 – Fine Furniture & Porcelain



Andy Warhol, underground filmmaker

The album cover of the soundtrack to "Blood for Dracula".

Andy Warhol was once asked at a party while holding his ever-present camera, “Why do you constantly take pictures of people?” Warhol stared at the guest for a moment, who was holding a cigarette, then replied, “Why do you smoke?”.

Always fascinated by the photographic image, Warhol made hundreds of films, beginning from the period when he moved into the “Factory” studio in 1963. His first movies were silent and black-and-white, due to the limitations of his 16mm Bolex camera. From this period comes the 6-hour film “Sleep” (depicting a person sleeping during an entire night), as well as “Kiss”, “Haircut”, and his first, unfinished version of “Dracula” (1964), starring fellow underground filmmaker Jack Smith.


A scene from Warhol's "The Chelsea Girls", featuring Nico and Ondine. The entire film was shown in a split screen.

By the mid-1960s Warhol’s films had achieved a certain success and recognition within the underground scene in New York, and certain productions from this period are considered classics, such as “The Chelsea Girls” (1966), a series of twelve 33-minute reels all shot in different rooms of the Chelsea Hotel, which Newsweek called “The Iliad of the underground”. Warhol’s directing career more or less ended with his near-fatal shooting in 1968 by Factory habituée Valerie Solanas. Paul Morrissey, his main filmmaking assistant since 1965, took over and eventually brought Warhol-produced/inspired films to a much larger public.


Udo Kier going green in "Blood for Dracula".

It was Morrissey who directed “Andy Warhol’s Dracula” (1973-74) for which this image was created. Later entitled “Blood for Dracula”, the film stars German actor Udo Kier and Joe Dallesandro, an American actor who appeared in many Warhol / Morrissey films, including “Flesh for Frankenstein”. The shooting of “Dracula” started just a few days after “Frankenstein” was completed, with the actors getting shorter haircuts in order to play their new roles. “Dracula” opened in Germany and the US to mixed reviews, but has since become somewhat of a cult classic, and despite its low-budget “trash” aesthetic contains some beautifully shot scenes.


Andy Warhol (1928–1987)
Dracula. 1981.
Colour screenprint with diamond dust.
TP 2/30, trial proof outside the edition of 200. Unique.
Sold for CHF 116 000 (world auction record)

Warhol included the image of Udo Kier as Dracula in his 1981 “Myths” series of icons of popular culture. The screenprint offered here is a unique test proof, and differs significantly from other test proofs and the final edition in its vibrant colours and the use of diamond dust – in the final version, the grey-and-black toned figure nearly blends into the dark background. The film may be essentially Morrisey’s work, but the appropriation and repurposing of a classic element from popular culture, as seen in the present screenprint, is quintessential Warhol.

Upcoming auctions
5 December – Prints & Multiples
5 December – PostWar & Contemporary



When a pearl necklace was worth the price of a mansion

Elizabeth Taylor with one of her natural pearl necklaces.

For millennia, natural pearls were among the most valuable items one could possess. Cleopatra famously won a bet with Marc Antony that she could spend 10 million sesterces on a single dinner, by dissolving an unusually large natural pearl in vinegar and drinking it. In 1917, Pierre Cartier purchased a mansion on New York’s 5th Avenue (now known as the Cartier Mansion) with a double-strand natural pearl necklace, worth $1 million at the time.

The pearl and diamond necklace offered in our 2 July auction was priced by a Zurich jeweller at 100 000 Swiss francs in 1919 – roughly 1 million francs in today’s currency – as the original invoice attests. But just a few years after Cartier’s trade and the purchase of the Zurich necklace, pearls were worth a fraction of their former value. What caused this dramatic change in the pearl market?


Chinese pearl divers from the Tiangong Kaiwu encyclopedia, 1637.

The value of natural pearls previous to the 20th century resided in their extreme rarity. It takes years for a mollusc to create a pearl, and this process only occurs in approximately one in 10 000 shells. Pearl divers had to plunge to depths of up to 40 metres to retrieve potential pearl-bearing bivalves, which was both dangerous and time-consuming. Because of this, pearls were reserved for the extremely wealthy, and figured prominently in richly-adorned pendants, earrings and necklaces.


Various types of cultured pearls. Photo © GIA.

In 1921, however, cultured pearls appeared on the international market for the first time, having been developed in Japan from the late 19th century by Kokichi Mikimoto and others. Natural pearls are formed when a mollusc creates a protective nacreous layer around a tiny irritant or a wound. With cultured pearls, a bead and a piece of epithelial tissue is inserted by pearl farmers, resulting in more efficient production, as well as more affordable pearls. By the 1950s and 60s, cultured pearls were within the reach of most middle-class consumers, and the fact that they were worn by celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe rendered them all the more desirable.


A natural pearl and diamond necklace, circa 1919.
89 graduated, round and semi-round, cream-coloured natural pearls of D ca. 4 - 7.2 mm
With original purchase invoice from Eugen Keller, December 1919.
Sold for CHF 16 000.

Today it is possible to obtain what was formerly one of the world’s greatest treasures – a necklace of natural pearls – and enjoy what once only a lucky few could own.

Upcoming auctions:
29 September – Jewellery (online only)



Emilian School, 16th Century (detail)

Sold for CHF 45 000

View sales results

Strong results and active bidding in Koller’s online auctions despite the current climate

The coronavirus crisis did not discourage online bidders from enthusiastically participating in Koller’s “ibid online only” auctions. The sales, which closed on 31 March and 1 April, achieved an overall total of well over 100% of the pre-sale estimates. Koller postponed its March saleroom auctions due to the impossibility of holding a preview, but decided to go ahead with its planned online sales with only a virtual preview. The results for these items of modest value were excellent, in spite of the fact that the items could not be previewed in person, and even in fields for which the demand has been more restrained in recent years: the results for antique furniture exceeded expectations, as did books and porcelain. Old Master paintings did particularly well, and two works – an Emilian School family portrait and a head of an apostle by a follower of Van Dyck – sold for many times their starting prices, at CHF 45 000 and CHF 34 000 respectively.

The current crisis perhaps even contributed to the success of the sales: "I must congratulate you on the perfect organisation of the auction", one buyer wrote to us after the sale. "It allowed my wife and I to experience a few exciting hours despite being under ‘house arrest’".

Koller has been holding ibid online only auctions regularly since 2018, offering works with a broader appeal alongside their main saleroom auctions, and they have proven to be a success not only among Koller’s traditional bidder base but also among a new generation of collectors accustomed to purchasing online. The transparent process, easy access to high-resolution images, condition reports and direct advice from specialists make this a popular way to access an entire range of art and objects, from fine art and design to wine and fashion & vintage.


KOLLERview is published four times a year,

the next issue will follow in June 2020.

Click & Read

In this issue:

• Treasure from Limoges
• Golden Middle Ages
• White gold from Meissen
• 18th-century “Design”
• Astronomical precision
• From Corot to Lieberman



KOLLERview is published four times a year,

the next issue will follow in March 2020.

Read as PDF.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear clients and friends

In the socially turbulent 20th century, rich in political upheavals, visual art underwent radical changes: from its roots in Impressionism’s experiments with colour and form, after 1900 completely new tendencies crystallized in various places and with very different protagonists. The Expressionists turned the colour palette upside down, Cubism pushed the representation of forms into the realm of geometry, and abstraction made its place on canvasses and in sculpture. Our auction on 6 December will feature works that exemplify the era of modern art and its abundance of artistic personalities: Pierre Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall.

After the Second World War, the epicentre of the international art scene shifted from Europe and its capital cities of Moscow, Berlin, Paris, and London to the USA. Cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles acted as melting pots of Modernism in the 1950s and 1960s. In these “boomtowns”, Action Painting, Pop Art, Minimal Art and many other currents had their beginnings, and would in turn make a massive impact on the “Old World”.

Our December auctions unite a number of works from this period of artistic upheaval that produced “multilingual” art. Today the works of Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Robert Indiana, Jean Dubuffet, Mark Tobey, Ben Nicholson, Getulio Alviani, Alexander Calder and Karel Appel exemplify the fruitful dialogues and discourses of those decades.

With sculptural works by Ai Weiwei and Stephan Balkenhol, contemporary art is also prominently represented at Koller in December. In addition, we will again have the opportunity to auction fine works of Asian Art, such as two Meiji Bronze vessels, which illustrate the intensive cultural transfer between Europe and Asia some 120 years ago.

Finally, in the Swiss Art Auction – alongside the famous Town Clerk by Albert Anker and works by Alexandre Calame, Giovanni Giacometti, Cuno Amiet and Adolf Dietrich – there is Peter Robert Berri, a master to be rediscovered who sensitively portrayed the mountains between Val Poschiavo and Valtellina at the beginning of the last century.

I look forward to welcoming you to our auction galleries during our preview and wish you an entertaining and stimulating read.

Our experts are always available to advise you on the purchase and sale of works of art.

Ihr Cyril Koller



Man with green shirt and domino relief. 2007.
Sculpture. Wawa-wood, painted, 2-parts.
Estimate: CHF 50 000 / 70 000

Stephan Balkenhol plays brilliantly with scales in his wooden sculptures: while the figure placed on a pedestal is much smaller than in reality, the artist has enlarged the dominoes in the background many times over. The irritation that this shift in dimensions triggers in the viewer is at the onset of an entire narrative thread that develops around this expansive installation. “My sculptures offer suggestions of stories without telling them to the end”, says Balkenhol about his works.



Superman. 1981.
Colour screenprint with diamond dust. 8/200.
Sheet size 95.2 x 95.2 cm.
Estimate: CHF 120 000 / 180 000

Comic icons

Andy Warhol’s “Superman” in the PostWar & Contemporary auction on 7 December 2019

The world of comics knows many heroes: Max and Moritz (1865), Mickey Mouse (1928) and Donald Duck (1931), Popeye (1929), or Tim and Struppi (1929). But the legendary superhero of modern comics is Superman – alias Kal-El, alias Clark Kent – who saw the light of day in 1938. His inventors, comic writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, triggered a veritable superhero boom in the United States which produced characters such as Batman (1939) and Wonder Woman (1941). Andy Warhol, born in 1928, exemplified the target group of this medium: children, teenagers and young adults who were enthusiastic about the new idols and bought, collected and traded comic books.

The new spirit (Donald Duck). 1985.
Colour screenprint. 132/190.
Sheet size 95.2 x 95.2.
Estimate: CHF 24 000 / 28 000

The Superman motif is one of a series of comic icons that Warhol included in his work beginning in the 1960s. Among the most sought-after of these is his silkscreen series “Myths” from 1981, which included Mickey Mouse and this Superman. Most of the characters in Warhol’s Myths series come from old Hollywood films, early American comics, and TV programs from the 1950s. On the one and they are reminders of the great past of the American entertainment industry, on the other they took Andy Warhol back to the years of his childhood. When he was a young boy, Andy suffered from an autoimmune disease and was bedridden for months. During this time, he became enthralled by comics and movies. After completing his training as a commercial artist, Warhol collected striking magazine illustrations and covers, which he adapted – serially and repeatedly – into screenprints. He loved making repetitions, such as his Campbell soup cans or stacked Brillo boxes: “I love to do the same thing over and over again.”

How familiar Warhol was with the world of comics can also be seen in a formal detail, which he did not take from the historical Superman model, but which belongs quite naturally to the history of comic drawing: by duplicating and superimposing the motif, the artist creates the impression of movement that renders the image more active and dynamic. One of the archetypes of this artistic effect is Max and Moritz creator Wilhelm Busch’s unforgettable drawings of the piano-playing “Virtuoso”, who in the “Finale Furioso” ecstatically reaches into the keys and – as a symbol of the enormous speed of his musical performance – can be seen several times over. In a comparable manner, Warhol makes his Superman, fist forward and cape fluttering, dynamically ascend and nearly overtake himself. The fact that Warhol did not choose this type of depiction by chance is demonstrated by test prints of the motif in black and white, in which he had already doubled the image. The artist adopted the strong red and blue palette directly from the Superman original, and added diamond dust to the contours of the doubled motif. Both create a dramatic effect against the black background and thus continue the suspenseful narrative thread of the Superman comic in an independent work of art.

“The New Spirit”, a colour screenprint from Warhol’s 1985 “Ads” series, will also be offered in the 7 December auction. In this series of ten motifs, the artist not only staged the famous cartoon character Donald Duck, but also a whole potpourri of iconic images of the “American Way of Life” and the US consumer society: the logos of Apple, Paramount and Chanel, as well as portraits of Judy Garland, Ronald Reagan and James Dean. Warhol’s iconic comic figures have been in demand at Koller: in December 2018 his “Mickey Mouse” screenprint achieved CHF 168,500 – a new world record for this print.



17" Planets. 1976.
Gouache and ink on wove paper.
37,1 x 109,1 cm.
Estimate: CHF 40 000 / 60 000


01 Calder's fascination with the solar system was part of a broader phenomenon that was triggered, among other things, by the discovery of the planet Pluto in 1930. “The simplest forms in the universe are the sphere and the circle. I represent them by disks and then I vary them”, he said.

H. 1970.
Acrylic on canvas.
86 x 86 cm.
Estimate: CHF 6 000 / 8 000

Cane. 1979.
Pastel on thin cardboard.
31 x 41 cm.
Estimate: CHF 24 000 / 32 000

Superficie a testura vibratile.
Aluminium on wood.
70 x 70 cm.
Estimate: CHF 40 000 / 60 000

02 Claisse was convinced that her art didn't need “the crutches of traditional painting” – and created inimitable works of geometric abstraction.

03 Whether with women, men with moustaches, children, birds, or – as here – a dog, Botero enchants with cheerful, bright colours and seemingly inflated forms.

04 The works of the Italian artist “Get” Alviani are magical illusions charged with pulsating energy. Since the 1950s he has been experimenting with metal surfaces, which he furnishes with precisely applied, optically vibrating textures.

05 Itten, who came from the Bauhaus, directed the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Arts) in Zurich and taught at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (School of Design) in Ulm after the Second World War. He studied the interplay of colour and form throughout his life, which led to his own colour theory.

06 As co-founder of the avant-garde artists’ group ZERO, the representation of light was at the centre of Piene’s work: “In the past, paintings and sculptures seemed to glow. Now they do”.

Diagonals. 1962.
Oil on canvas.
60 x 60 cm.
Estimate: CHF 20 000 / 30 000

Untitled (Fire Flower). 1987.
Pigments, gouache and fire on thin cardboard.
66,5 x 97,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 12 000 / 16 000

Cochon avec Femme. 1971.
Oil on canvas.
37,1 x 109,1 cm.
Estimate: CHF 40 000 / 60 000

07 The painting of the Dutch artist Appel is strongly influenced by the international group of artists CoBrA, founded in 1948 (an acronym of the city names Copenhagen / Brussels / Amsterdam). In the 1970s, Appel’s child-like world of motifs manifested itself in bright colours.

The Book of Love. 1996.
Portfolio with 12 colour screenprints and 12 poems,
also with the imprint. 50/200.
Estimate: CHF 80 000 / 140 000

Concetto Spaziale. 1966.
Cracks and graffiti on white wove paper.
56 x 43 cm.
Estimate: CHF 35 000 / 55 000

Untitled #11. 2006.
Aluminium. 3/3.
46 x 54 x 75 cm.
Estimate: CHF 15 000 / 25 000

08 Indiana’s LOVE design, created in the mid-sixties, is now world-famous and adorns T-shirts and coffee mugs, billboards and even a US stamp. “The Book of Love” combines poems with the logo in twelve different screen-printed colour combinations.

09 By scratching and cutting the surface, Fontana places the three-dimensionality of the work in the foreground and leads us into a mystical realm found on the back of the picture.

10 Gupta is one of the most influential figures in contemporary Indian art. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that he is an artist who shows the everyday life of his homeland and transforms it into art – full of warm closeness to his origins.

11 Tobey spent the last years of his life in Basel thanks to Swiss art dealer and collector Ernst Beyeler. During this time he painted temperas like these, in which he continually created new textures.

12 Vasarely’s geometric abstractions built on formal inventions of the Suprematists, the De Stijl movement and the Constructivists to create mesmerizing optical illusions.

Untitled. 1965.
Tempera on wove paper.
26 x 17 cm.
Estimate: CHF 40 000 / 60 000

Kezdi-RSZ. 1970.
Acrylic on canvas.
160 x 160 cm.
Estimate: CHF 90 000 / 140 00



Site avec 5 personnages. 1981.
Acrylic on paper, firmly laid down on canvas.
50 x 68 cm.
Estimate: CHF 160 000 / 240 000

Dubuffet’s metamorphosi

Jean Dubuffet in the PostWar & Contemporary Auction on 7 December 2019

Five very different works from the December auction allow us to trace the artistic development of French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985), from the end of the 1950s until shortly before his death. In the 1920s, Dubuffet was in the circle of the Paris Surrealists. He did not devote himself to painting, found objects, printmaking and sculpture until after 1942. With his manifesto “L'Art brut préféré aux arts culturels”, published in 1949, he established an important art theoretical discourse parallel to his own artistic development

L'Aguicheuse. 1966.
Marker and coloured pen on wove paper.
25 x 16,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 30 000 / 50 000

Personnage. 1965.
Black felt-tip pen on wove paper by Montgolfier S.M.
27 x 21 cm.
Estimate: CHF 15 000 / 25 000

In the 1950s, Dubuffet created a series of oil paintings as experiments with materials and textures; “Texturologie LII”, 1958, is a typical example from this series, to be offered in the 7 December auction. The vital surfaces created by dripping paint represent “teeming matter, soils, or even galaxies and nebulae”, according to the artist.

Dubuffet became well known as a result of exhibitions in the USA, featuring the colourful and strongly formal works with which his work became associated, created in his Paris studio beginning in 1960. Three examples in the 7 December auction typify this phase: “Personnage”, 1965, a felt-tip pen drawing reduced to the artist’s characteristic monochrome cell-like forms, “L'aguicheuse”, a coloured drawing made in 1966, and the sculpture “Le tétrascopique”, 1971, one of only five hors-commerce examples that were reworked by hand. This last example shows Dubuffet’s playful penetration into the third dimension, which began in 1966. Finally, “Site avec 5 Personnages”, 1981, evokes Dubuffet's enthusiasm for naive art. He began collecting outsider art in 1945 and donated his extensive collection to the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, where it has been on display since 1976.

Texturologie LII (pariétale mouchetée). 1958.
Oil on canvas.
66 x 80 cm.
Minimum hammer price: CHF 32 000

Le Tétrascopique. 1971.
Sculpture with four polychrome panels. Colour screenprint on polyvinyl, one panel is hand painted.
97.5 x 50 x 50 cm. With metal plinth.
Estimate: CHF 25 000 / 35 000



Nymphes. 20 May 1945.
Charcoal on paper.
48 x 37 cm.
Estimate: CHF 120 000 / 180 000

Silent Cézanne, moving Matisse

Preview of the Impressionist & Modern Art Auction on 6 December 2019

Still lifes played a central role in Cézanne's work. At least 170 of them are known today, though they rarely appear on the art market – in the past ten years, only 13 Cézanne still lifes have been auctioned worldwide. Through continually new arrangements of form and surface, and experiments with light and colour, Cezanne created unique pictorial spaces. “Treat nature in terms of the cylinder, the sphere and the cone” was how he famously characterised his search for a new pictorial language in 1904. At the time this still life was created (1879-80), he was regarded as a maverick and had only a few advocates, among them the influential Parisian art dealer Ambroise Vollard. This painting has an interesting provenance: it once belonged to Franz Meyer, $ long-time director of the Kunstmuseum Basel and president of the Alberto Giacometti Foundation in Zurich, who was Marc Chagall’s son-in-law.

Bol, boîte à lait et bouteille. 1879-80.
Oil on canvas.
15,7 x 20 cm.
Estimate: CHF 300 000 / 500 000

The shifts in perspective that came to decisively shape Cézanne’s paintings can be seen in this work: while the bright, painted bowl is viewed from the front, one looks down into the taller jug to the left. Cézanne’s distancing from conventional representation is taking shape. His painting technique, his pictorial inventions and his experiments with perspective fascinated subsequent generations of artists, and the complexity and modernity of Cézanne’s creations continued to do so well into the 20th century.

Like Picasso (“Cézanne was my one and only master”), Braque and Derain, Henri Matisse repeatedly referred to Cézanne as the “father of modern art”. Matisse’s lively depiction of three nymphs, which will also be offered in the 6 December auction, dates from 1945. Four years earlier, after a severe abdominal operation left him bedridden, the artist turned to drawing with charcoal. Through the partially effaced traces of underlying charcoal strokes, the creative process remains visible in the finished picture. The importance Matisse attached to the transformative conversion of a motif was impressively demonstrated at the opening exhibition of the Galerie Maeght in Paris in 1946, where the artist presented photographs documenting the creation of the six paintings on display. In the accentuated forms of the naked bodies, Matisse’s last creative phase, his cut-outs, is already apparent. In his last years, these cut-out and glued forms replaced his drawings, paintings and sculptures.



Helmos. December 1963.
Wood relief, painted.
78 x 78 cm.
Estimate: CHF 100 000 / 150 000


13 As early as the 1930s Nicholson experimented with purely geometric, almost architectural forms. Piet Mondrian and Naum Gabo both had a lasting influence on the British artist, and their strict reduction of visual language is also reflected in this relief.

Françoise. 1946.
Lithograph. 2/50.
Image 59,5 x 48,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 25 000 / 35 000

Repos sur coq et chevauchée au village rouge. 1975-78.
Gouache, tempera and ink on paper.
65,3 x 50 cm.
Estimate: CHF 120 000 / 180 000

Paysage, vallée village sur la hauteur et fond de montagnes. 1900.
Oil on canvas.
26 x 36 cm.
Estimate: CHF 100 000 / 150 000

14 This is a portrait of Picasso’s lover and mother of their children Claude and Paloma, the painter and graphic artist Françoise Gilot, for whom Picasso ended his relationship with Dora Maar in the mid-1940s. For several years, this litho was the only portrait the artist had made of Gilot.

15 Every detail of Chagall’s painting is part of an entire pictorial narrative, as well as symbolically charged. From the 1960s he worked on several large commissions for murals and glass paintings, in Japan, Israel and the USA. At the same time he created stage and costume designs for the theatre.

16 Exquisite colours and enchanting light – with these ingredients Renoir created almost all his landscape paintings. With his early works, Renoir gave Impressionism an essential stimulus, and he conserved the liveliness of his style well into his advanced age.

17 Picasso’s drawings in particular demonstrate his mastery of the line. This work exemplifies a central theme of his oeuvre with its depiction of a three-way relationship. Begun on 11 July 1966, Picasso reworked and condensed the image several days later.

18 This painting was created in 1908, the year Giovanni Giacometti exhibited his work together with the artists’ association “Die Brücke” in Dresden.

Trois personnages. 1966.
Crayon and felt pen on paper.
50 x 61 cm.
Estimate: CHF 280 000 / 350 000

Waldinneres. 1908.
Oil on canvas.
38 × 46 cm.
Estimate: CHF 80 000 / 120 000

Clivia. 1943.
Oil on panel.
65 × 57 cm.
Estimate: CHF 60 000 / 90 000

19 In the 1940s, the Swiss artist Dietrich reached the peak of his success. His newly objective, in part hyperrealistic paintings – landscapes, still lifes, animal paintings and portraits – attracted a large circle of collectors and museum curators who exhibited his works.

Lac des Quatre-Cantons, près de Brunnen.
Oil on canvas.
64,6 × 87,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 30 000 / 50 000

20 Calame's landscape paintings, often bathed in dramatic light, enjoyed success throughout Europe and left their mark on the artistic image of the Swiss Alps in the second third of the 19th century.



Auktion: 4.12.2019


Rare split second Chronograph, 1940s.

Stainless steel. Ø 44 mm.

Estimate: CHF 55 000 / 75 000



Flyback Chronograph with calendar, 2009.

Platinum 950. Ø 40,5 mm.

Estimate: CHF 35 000 / 55 000



Daytona "Zenith" Caliber, 1999.

Stainless steel. Ø 38 mm.

Estimate: CHF 20 000 / 25 000




Rare "Perpetual Calendar", 2014.

White gold 750. Ø 37,5 mm.

Estimate: CHF 28 000 / 50 000



Van Cleef & Arpels, NY 1964.

Yellow gold 750 and platinum 10% iridium, 47g.

Estimate: CHF 20 000 / 30 00



Van Cleef & Arpels, NY, circa 1960.

Yellow gold 750, 54g.

Estimate: CHF 20 000 / 30 000




White gold 750.

Set with 1 cushion-shaped diamond of 10.02 ct, J/SI1

Estimate: CHF 100 000 / 150 000



Platinum 950, 27g.

Elegant ring, set with 1 cushion-shaped Burma sapphire of 37.67 ct.

Estimate: CHF 220 000 / 320 000




Der Gemeindeschreiber (The community record keeper) V. 1899.
Oil on canvas.
62,5 × 49 cm.
Estimate: CHF 600 000 / 900 000

Between Val Poschiavo and Valtellina

Preview of the Swiss Art Auction on 6 December 2019

Born in 1864 in St. Moritz, Peter Robert Berri studied medicine in Switzerland and Germany. In 1892, he was appointed chief physician of the St. Moritz-Bad Mineral Springs Society. Six years later he became acquainted with Giovanni Segantini and Giovanni Giacometti, whose painting techniques and pictorial worlds Berri skilfully adapted in his own early paintings. Giacometti encouraged him to paint, to pursue his vocation: “After all, you are a colourist. Colours attract you. Give free range to your desires”. Berri pursued his goal to move beyond dilettantism and become a true artist through studies at the renowned private Académie Julian in Paris, and a drawing course with Heinrich Knirr in Munich. He spent the productive years between 1905 and the outbreak of World War I in the Alps of the Grisons and the Engadine, the Val Poschiavo and the Valtellina in Italy. During that time he met Ferdinand Hodler and Friedrich Nietzsche, among others, and his works were shown at major Swiss art exhibitions as well as at the Venice Biennale.

Lej da Suvretta.
Oil on canvas.
97,5 × 147 cm.
Estimate: CHF 60 000 / 100 000

Maloja "Paesaggio paradisiaco". 1920.
Oil on canvas.
120 × 100 cm.
Estimate: CHF 100 000 / 150 000

Central to Berri’s work are views of the mountainous landscape around the Julier and Bernina passes. His paintings, in a style reminiscent of Giovanni Segantini, were created en plein air. “For ten years I worked for several months each winter on the Julier and Bernina passes, because I was particularly attracted to this altitude with its greater abundance of light and colour”, Berri later recalled. Berri captured the mountain ranges’ shimmering spectrum of light and colour in large landscapes, to which an application of impasto colour lends an additional dynamic. Berri’s feelings for nature found their counterpart in oil painting: “Last autumn, excited by the wonderful colour symphonies of the autumn landscape, I travelled about the mountains for weeks on end with coloured pencils and sketchbooks, following an irresistible desire to sketch. I soon came to the sad conclusion that the cold, hard coloured pencils were unable to reproduce my painterly sensations”.

Snow is particularly important in Berri’s work. In the two early summer pictures offered in the 6 December auction the shady mountain flanks retain remains of white splendour. In addition to landscape paintings, Berri created impressive portraits and self-portraits, as well as a number of works that reflect everyday life in the mountain villages of the Grisons, marked by traditions and centuries-old customs, hard work and little comfort

Piz Julier.
Oil on canvas.
70,5 × 111 cm.
Estimate: CHF 50 000 / 80 000



Tibet, 14th/15th. century. H 27 cm.
Base plate lost.
Estimate: CHF 100 000 / 150 000

East meets West

Preview of the Asian Art Auction on 3 December 2019

Cultural exchanges between East Asia and Western Europe reached their height in the 19th century. In particular, the international exhibitions or world’s fairs, which had their origins in London’s Crystal Palace in 1851, developed into platforms where not only industries but also the visual and applied arts of various nations were exhibited together. The extravagant national pavilions brought Asian art to Europe and America, where it could be experienced in such abundance for the first time, inspiring Japonism – to use a term coined by the French art historian Philippe Burty in 1872 – which spawned important works of Impressionism, Art Nouveau and Viennese Modernism. At the same time, a select group of dealers such as Samuel Bing, and collectors who devoted themselves primarily to Japanese art became established in Europe. Woodcuts by Hokusai and Hiroshige, Utamaro and Kesai Eisen soon joined the cultural-historical treasures of Europe. Artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Édouard Manet, Aubrey Beardsley, Gustav Klimt and Paul Klee often referred to these Far Eastern influences in their works.

Japan, Meiji period (early 20th c.)
H 39,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 5 000 / 8 000

The international exhibitions also affected the visitors and exhibitors who travelled from the Far East: Asian artists’ encounters with Art Nouveau led to a reverse flow of influence, especially after 1900. Japanese artists – in addition to their own roots such as those of the Rinpa school around Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716) – integrated design influences from the West into their painting, lacquer art and metal works. Art Nouveau in its heyday reached Japan through Japanese travellers to Europe, including the painters and woodcut artists Kuroda Seiki (1866–1924) and Asai Chu (1856–1907). The elegance of the naturalistic and ornamental decorations characteristic of Art Nouveau inspired the Japanese to make more creative designs. This complex network of exchanges and interrelationships gave rise to unique works such as the two Meiji bronze jars which will be offered in the 3 December auction.

The mutual transfer was made possible by the extensive social modernization and opening of the former feudal state of Japan in the last third of the 19th century. The Meiji Restoration that began in 1868 with Tennō Mutsuhito favored yōga, Western-style painting, and sent young students to Europe to bring Western knowledge and technique to Japan. Western naturalism was clearly reflected in the sculptures of the Tokyo School, also represented in the 3 December auction. Traditional Japanese metalwork – especially the production of samurai swords – involved an extremely high level of craftsmanship. Metal alloys could be varied for different colour effects; gold and silver coatings were used for sword decoration on the tiniest surface. Bans on carrying weapons in public issued in the 1870s led craftsmen to apply their technical mastery to new objects. Bronze work in particular experienced a new boom as a result. Alongside the artisan elite, new metalworking schools were developed, creating elaborate objects such as vases and sculptures.

China, 19th century.
H 20,3 cm.
Estimate: CHF 10 000 / 15 000

Japan, dated 1698, H 81,5 cm.
Fire-gilt copper sheet with delicate incised ornamental decor, base with woodcore.
Estimate: CHF 50 000 / 80 000



After a Meissen porcelain model from 1748
Louis XV, Paris, probably 18th century
Sold for CHF 40 560


01 The models for these two objects were probably from the famous Meissen Swan Service, made in 1737 under the direction of Count von Brühl.

Pair of works.
Oil on canvas.
Each 44,5 × 35 cm.
Sold for CHF 171 100

Gothic, France, 15th century.
Oak core, with opulent iron mounts designed
as pierced, stylised tendrils.
Sold for CHF 6 000

The Crucifixion.
Tempera and gold ground on panel.
42 × 30,2 cm.
Sold for CHF 152 800

02 Pairs of paintings enjoyed great popularity in the age of cabinets of curiosities and private art collections. The motifs of the Swiss artist Bys, whose known works include not only panel paintings but also many mural paintings which were influenced by models from the Netherlands and Italy.

03 Small boxes like this were literally “reliquaries of love”. Such miniature boxes made of wood, leather or ivory were given as gifts and were regarded especially from the 13th to the 15th centuries as an expression of deep friendship, for example between fiancées or a bride and groom.

04 This work from the High Gothic period shows the moment when the dying Christ commends his favourite disciple John to his mother as her son.

05 Van der Ast specialised in brilliantly painted, symbolically charged still lifes, especially flower pieces and fruit arrangements. From 1619 he lived in Utrecht, where he was a member of the Guild of St Luke, which conferred prestige and numerous commissions.

06 Klombeck’s artistry and painterly virtuosity are expressed in the myriad of details in his paintings.

Still life with fruits in a woven basket.
Oil on panel.
29,7 × 52,3 cm.
Sold for CHF 219 900

Forest path with travellers by a stream. 1857.
Oil on panel.
69,5 × 58 cm.
Sold for CHF 36 900

Bildnis eines Narren. Um 1550.
Öl auf Holz.
33,9 × 24,6 cm.
Sold for CHF 695 300

07 Dieses frühe Narrenbildnis ist ein exzellentes Beispiel für die flämische Porträtmalerei des 16. Jahrhunderts zwischen Hieronymus Bosch und Pieter Bruegel d. Ä.

Naples – le Mont Saint-Elme et partie de la ville. 1828.
Oil on panel.
20,6 × 40,4 cm.
Sold for CHF 104 000

Two altar panels.
Oil on panel.
Each 48,5 × 25,5 cm.
Sold for CHF 522 800

Bronze sculpture of Ettore Bugatti on horseback.
Bronze with dark brown patina.
54 x 31 x 62 cm.
Sold for CHF 128 400

08 Corot's works – such as this city view from his early oeuvre – mark the step from classical academic landscape painting to modern art. His colours and his way of rendering the southern light were important sources of inspiration for the Impressionists.

09 These two panels were probably part of a triptych which was separated in the 19th century; they were only recently reunited by a private collector.

10 The Italian sculptor Paul Troubetzkoy had Russian roots and lived in Switzerland in the beginning of the 20th century. Depicted is the founder of the famous Bugatti car brand, whose factory was located in Alsace from 1909 to 1963, and later in Italy.

11 Michau, who was active around 1700, was one of the last representatives of the golden age of Dutch landscape painting, which began almost a century and a half earlier.

12 In the second half of the 15th century and in the early 16th century, cloth paintings were particularly popular. In this technique, the pigments are applied to a finely woven linen cloth with glue tempera without priming. In spite of the highly fragile material, this depiction of Christ has been excellently preserved.

Festive village gathering.
Oil on copper.
33 × 45 cm.
Sold for CHF 73 500

Christ with the crown of thorns.
Tempera and gold ground on canvas. (Tüchleinmalerei).
47 × 37,5 cm (visible dimensions).
Sold for CHF 97 900



Compulsory auction: 5.12.2019

This 97-lot auction features high quality gold boxes, antique jewellery and 38 select and in part highly rare objects from the House of Fabergé, jewellers to the Russian Imperial Court.

* Please note the special auction conditions in the catalogue.


Maker's mark Michael Perchin, scratched inventory no. 47970.

Ca. 4,8 cm Ø. H ca. 2,8 cm.

Minimum hammer price: CHF 3 500



Marked Fabergé, maker's mark Michael Perchin, 88 Zolotniky.

Ca. 11,4 cm.

Minimum hammer price: CHF 93 000



Marked Fabergé, maker's mark Henrik Wigström, 56 Zolotniky.

Ca. 7,4 x 3,9 cm.

Minimum hammer price: CHF 146 000




Maker's mark Fedor Afanassiev, inventory no. 18955.

Ca. 5 cm Ø. H ca. 1,5 cm

Minimum hammer price: CHF 200 500


GEMSET GOLD FIBULAE, Marocco, Fez, late 18th century.


Ca. 6,5 cm Ø.

Minimum hammer price: CHF 1 500



Gelbgold. Early 17th century.

Ca. 4,2 x 4 cm.

Minimum hammer price: CHF 80 000




St. Petersburg, ca. 1890. Maker's mark Michael Perchin, 84 Zolotniky.

Ca. 8,8 x 5,3 x 2,4 cm.

Minimum hammer price: CHF 150 500



St. Petersburg 1884-1886. Maker's mark Michael Perchin.

Ca. 4,8 x 2,4 cm.

Minimum hammer price: CHF 49 000




Cruche et citrons sur une chaise. Circa 1942.
Oil on canvas.
51 x 40,5 cm
Minimum hammer price: CHF 27 500

Modern & Contemporary Art
Compulsory auction: 5.12.2019

This auction comprises 17 paintings, prints and sculptures by Jean Dubuffet, Andy Warhol, Jan Schoonhoven, David Smith, Richard Paul Lohse, Robert Indiana, Tamara de Lempicka, Félix del Marle, Auguste Herbin, Edmond van Dooren, Albert Gleizes, Alexandra Exter, Man Ray, David Nestorovich Kakabadze, Julio Gonzáles and Miguel Barceló.* Please note the special auction conditions in the catalogue.

Chief. 1969.
Oil on canvas.
61 x 56 x 4 cm.
Minimum hammer price: CHF 79 500


KOLLERview is published four times a year,

the next issue will follow in December 2019.

Als PDF lesen

Dear Clients and Friends

In 1990, when I was 23 years old, I started working in the auction house which my father founded and built from the ground up in 1958. The trust that my father placed in me in those early years, and the freedom to put new ideas into practice he gave me from the very beginning, were decisive for our entire future cooperation. The openness of the older generation towards the younger one, and the respect of the young for the experience of their elders – that was the magic formula for the continued success of our auction house in the following decades. I am deeply grateful for all those years.

My father’s life, which ended on 21 June 2019, was closely interwoven with his “Galerie Koller” up to his last day. Until the end, his greatest interest was in our auction house. And so he would certainly have advised me at this point, after due acknowledgements, to announce the highlights of our upcoming auctions!

The two most important works in our Old Masters auction are panels which were created during the same period, but are diametrically opposed in their conception. One was made in Florence, the other in Mechelen. Tuscany and Flanders, two of the leading economic and cultural centres in the 15th and 16th centuries, engaged in constant contact and exchanges. And yet we see two worlds of ideas colliding in the “Portrait of a Jester” by the Master of 1537 and in the “Madonna” by Pier Francesco di Jacopo Foschi. The first is of a naturally realistic genre, deeply rooted in this world and challenging the viewer; the second – with a subtly idealised composition and colouring – serves the divine.

The fascination with mechanical perfection and the display of modern technology in the 18th and 19th centuries is documented on the one hand by a skeleton clock made in Paris around 1780, and on the other by two books woven by machine in silk. The books’ production was automated in 1878, about a hundred years after the creation of the skeleton clock mentioned above, with the help of thousands of punched cards. The programming of Jacquard looms for the production of highly detailed books was ground-breaking, and their complex binary code corresponds to one of the basic principles of the present-day computer.

Several Italian panel paintings from the 14th and 15th centuries and many other objects distributed over all specialist areas come from a wonderful Ticino collection which an Italian connoisseur lovingly and knowledgeably assembled over many years. Finally, in this issue of KOLLERview we also present some objects and works of art that we have successfully auctioned in recent months.

I wish you, dear readers, an informative read.

Yours, Cyril Koller

Portrait of a jester. Circa 1550.
Oil on panel.
33.9 × 24.6 cm.
Estimate: CHF 500 000 / 700 000

Fools say what the wise man only thinks

Preview of the Old Master Paintings Auction on 27 September 2019

The jester as a symbolic figure crops up again and again throughout history in literature as well as in the performing and visual arts. Sixteenth-century Flemish painters Quentin Massys (1466–1530) and Lucas van Leyden (1494–1533) provided outstanding examples. A coloured woodblock print by Heinrich Vogtherr the Younger, circa 1540 (see illustration below) is closely related to the work offered in the 27 September auction. The jester, wellknown for taking liberties, is probably the most iconic figure of the court; his ambivalent role is most pronounced.

© akg-images

Although the jester had a comparatively good livelihood because of his proximity to power, when he fell out of favour, the good times were over, with even the possibility of execution. Thus the court jester's life was always a risky balancing act, a continuous all-or-nothing game between the lightness of being and downfall.

The portrait of a jester offered here had been on loan to the Musée départemental de Flandre in Cassel since 2010. It is easy to recognise the established attributes of the fool: the yellow and red costume and the fool's cap with donkey-ears and cockscomb. The fool’s staff on the right is reminiscent of dolls on sticks called “Marotte” dolls. This staff depicts the portrait of its bearer, which alludes to the narcissism and possibly also the godlessness of fools. The representation against a black background and the renunciation of a pictorial context concentrates the composition – and thus the viewer’s gaze – on the facial expression and physical attitude of the jester. This portrait form was a distinct rarity in the 16th century. In order to decipher his idiosyncratic gesture, one inevitably arrives at a saying that is still common in Dutch today: “iets door de vingers zien”. “To see something through one’s fingers” stands for the desire to turn a blind eye, to tolerate, to be broadminded. Apparently the artist is suggesting that one should overlook others’ – including the jester’s – mistakes. Eyeglasses are usually considered a sign of erudition. In this case, though, they probably stand for glare and deception, because at that time making eyeglasses, like the wooden temple glasses shown here, was a technical challenge. Since the resulting spectacles were of very uneven quality, their sellers were often regarded as charlatans.

This impressive jester’s portrait has been attributed to the “Master of 1537”. Active in Mechelen between 1520 and 1570, the Master’s sobriquet derives from a dated panel depicting the Holy Family which was attributed to him. Recent art historical research suggests that the Master of 1537 may have been Frans Verbeeck (before 1530–circa 1570). On the basis of a dendrochronological examination of the wooden panel, the present painting can be dated to a period following 1548, Verbeeck’s most intensive creative phase. His works are related to those of Jan Sanders van Hemessen (1500–1566) and Pieter Coeck van Aelst (1502–1550), but Verbeeck developed his own style, characterised by exaggerated facial features, extravagant poses and unique pictorial compositions. His subjects often contain satirical features. Chronologically and stylistically, Verbeeck’s paintings represent a connection between the works of Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450–1516) and Pieter Bruegel the Elder (circa 1525/30–1569). In this context as well, this portrait is an excellent example of high-quality Flemish portrait painting of the 16th century.

Still life with fruits in a woven basket.
Oil on panel.
29,7 × 52,3 cm.
Estimate: CHF 180 000 / 280 000

Saint John – favourite disciple, bearer of hope and patron saint

Preview of the Old Master Paintings Auction on 27 September 2019

Intimately close and skilfully bound within the pictorial space by the artist – this is how Mary, the Christ child and the infant John the Baptist appear in a large-format painting which can be described as one of the major works of Pier Francesco di Jacopo Foschi (1502–1567). Foschi, whose father was a pupil of Botticelli, was one of the most sought-after and successful artists during his lifetime, but later faded into obscurity. It was not until 1953 that the renowned Italian art historian Roberto Longhi rediscovered him and his works. Today Foschi is regarded as one of the leading Florentine painters of the 16th century. This high-quality and very well-preserved work can be dated to the creative phase between 1530 and 1540, in which the artist worked primarily under and with Jacopo da Pontormo (1494–1557). While Foschi’s artistic style in his early works was decisively influenced by the painting style of his master Andrea del Sarto (1486–1530), during this period he abandoned descriptive-narrative elements in favour of an emphasis on mystical and religious ones. Stylistically committed to Mannerism, the pictorial space appears densely compressed by the interlocking positions of the figures. The well-arranged composition of gazes, hands and curved bodies lends a lively dynamic. The masterly representation is softened by the colours and the extremely delicate skin tones of the figures. Comparable depictions were already popular devotional motifs among the Florentine bourgeoisie and nobility in the 15th century, especially since John the Baptist was the patron saint of Florence at that time and has remained so to this day.

Lively village scene before a broad landscape.
Oil on panel.
42 × 62 cm.
Estimate: CHF 50 000 / 70 000

Marche School, 15th century
Tempera and gold ground on panel.
42 × 30,2 cm.
Estimate: CHF 40 000 / 60 000

The suffering of Christ on the cross is one of the central subjects of Christian art. This panel, which dates from the High Gothic period and has never before been published, depicts the moment when Christ, shortly before his death, commended his favourite disciple John to Mary as her son: “Woman, here is your son” and “Here is your mother”. The artist stages this episode subtly: Mary takes the kneeling John by the hand and wraps her cloak around him protectively. Behind them, as if witnessing this highly emotional event, one sees Saint Francis of Assisi touching the cross. The rich golden ground of the sky with its engraved plant tendrils and the fascinating directed light on the four figures and their clothing, with the rocky landscape kept in shadow, are strikingly decorative and ennobling. This small-format panel from the early 15th century was probably made in the Marche near Fabriano or San Severino. “In these regions in the 15th century a pictorial world was formed, which combined the playful high Gothic style of Northern Italy, Lombardy, Visconti and Veneto with the elegance of Tuscany’s classical, more plastic world of forms.” (Prof. Dr Gaudenz Freuler).

Madonna and Child with the Infant St John the Baptist.
Oil on panel.
109 × 85 cm.
Estimate: CHF 400 000 / 600 000

Les Laboureurs, poème tiré de Jocelyn reproduit en caractères tissés avec
license des propriétaires éditeurs, en souvenier de l'exposition de Paris 1878.
Estimate: CHF 80 000 / 120 000

A forerunner of computer technology

Preview of the Books Auction on 24 September 2019

What do the Statue of Liberty, Braille, the telephone and electric light have in common? They were all among the exhibits at the third World’s Fair, or Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1878, which focused on modern technology. In addition to the above-mentioned prominent exhibits, there was a very exotic-looking invention on display, the fruit of an enormous technical effort: an entire book made entirely of silk. The spiritual father and creator of this visionary project was the Lyon silk manufacturer Joseph-Alphonse Henry (1836–1913). It is not known how much time was spent and how many fruitless attempts were made by Henry and his studio before they reached their goal, but one thing is certain: the production costs must have been astronomical, and were probably only justified by the extraordinary publicity promised by the Paris Exposition.

One page from the book.
Tissé sur soie d’après les enluminures
des manuscrits du XIVe au XVIe siècle.
Estimate: CHF 40 000 / 60 000

Tissé sur soie d’après les enluminures
des manuscrits du XIVe au XVIe siècle.
Estimate: CHF 40 000 / 60 000

This very first programmed textile book – a poem by Alphonse de Lamartine: Les Laboureurs – was produced on a Jacquard loom. Joseph-Marie Jacquard (1752–1834) developed his idea for a programmable loom as early as 1790. By experimenting with punched cards, he managed to automate the process to a large extent. By 1801, Jacquard had perfected his invention, and was able to produce endless complex patterns with the help of thousands of punched cards. By doing so, Jacquard had created a forerunner of modern computer programs.

The woven copies produced by Henry were not intended for sale. Only three examples from 1878 are known today: one in Paris’s Bibliothèque Nationale, another in the Musée des Tissus in Lyon, and the one offered here, the veritable prototype (“Exemplaire No. I”). The present copy is the only one that is numbered. Another example, more richly decorated, was later ordered by the Comte de Paris, Philippe d’Orléans, on the condition that no more copies would be produced; it is conserved in the Musée Louis Philippe, Château d’Eu. Nevertheless, at least one other copy was made, but with a modified title page sporting more lavish borders, a new address for the J. A. Henry workshop, and a woven date of 1883.

Accurate to one-tenth of a millimetre

In addition to the last copy of the original edition of Les Laboureurs in private hands, the auction on 24 September also features the second, improved woven book: a book of hours entitled Livre de Prières. Tissé d'après les Enluminures des Manuscrits du XIVe au XVIe Siècle (Lyon 1886/87), which was also made by Joseph-Alphonse Henry and is of outstanding quality; the attention to detail in this book is second to none. It took more than fifty attempts over more than two years to achieve success. The pages have elaborate borders. The text, which is very clearly printed, is enhanced with four miniatures, three of which are fullpage. The encoding of the silk pages likely required some 300,000 to 400,000 punched cards. For the precise weaving of 400 weft threads per square inch for typography and illustrations, machine movements of no more than a tenth of a millimetre were permitted. Since the pages could only be woven on one side, the front and back sides were woven separately, and the subsequent gluing process was very error-prone. Livre de Prières was presented at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris.

No further experiments in this extraordinary technique are known. The fact that these two outstanding technological masterpieces can now be offered at auction is a stroke of luck for collectors, institutions and museums. Alongside this singular pair of books, two hand-written books on silk weaving from 1855 and 1880 will also be auctioned.

Working on the docks at night. 1856.
Oil on canvas.
47,7 × 69 cm.
Estimate: CHF 15 000 / 20 000

Immersed in light

Preview of the 19th Century Paintings Auction on 27 September 2019

Following the success of the first part of the renowned collection of Jef Rademakers auctioned at Koller in March, on 27 September 2019 the second part will be offered, with Dutch and Belgian works from the Romantic movement of the 19th century, including “Village by a river in moonlight” by Theodorus Jacobus Abels (1803–1866). With such nocturnal river landscapes, which became a characteristic feature of his late works, Abels emulated the great painters of the 17th century, such as his compatriot Aert van der Neer (1603–1677). Abels’s moonlight images can be found in the royal collections of the Netherlands and Belgium.

Naples – le Mont Saint-Elme et partie de la ville. 1828.
Oil on paper laid on panel.
20,6 × 40,4 cm.
Estimate: CHF 70 000 / 90 000

Village by a river in the moonlight.
Oil on panel.
74,3 × 95,7 cm.
Estimate: CHF 12 000 / 18 000

Abels’s contemporary Henri Adolphe Schaep (1826–1870) attained great fame as a marine painter, but he also created dramatic landscapes bathed in moonlight, like the present painting “Night work at the docks”. One of his most important sources of inspiration was the Scheldt River, plied by large schooners between Antwerp and its mouth at the North Sea.

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot’s (1796–1875) light-flooded view of Naples and Mount Sant’Elmo in pastel tones will also be offered in the 27 September auction. The artist collected his first impressions of Italy from 1825 until 1828, during his travels to Naples as well as to Rome and the Campagna. This painting from 1828 is an early open-air work by the Parisian artist, who was one of the pioneers of Impressionism. With particular attention to the rendering of light and atmosphere, in his early work Corot laid the foundation of a new understanding of landscape painting. His early, en plein air oil sketches and paintings come alive through luminous colours and flowing brushstrokes, and they had an enormous effect on the following generation of artists. The often-exhibited landscape offered here once belonged to the influential Parisian art dealer and gallery owner Paul Durand-Ruel.

A glimpse into the private life of monks is offered by Eduard Grützner in his “Secret Study”, 1892, which depicts three clergymen studying in a monastery library. With an outstanding variety of details, this characteristic work is part of a group published under the title “Monks or priests reading and engaged in other leisure activities”. The artist – appointed in 1886 as Professor of the Munich Academy and raised to the nobility in 1916 – counts alongside Carl Spitzweg (1808–1885) and Franz von Defregger (1835–1921) as one of the most important Munich genre painters of the late nineteenth century.

Heimliche Studie (Secret study). 1892.
Oil on canvas.
79,5 × 60,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 40 000 / 60 000

Louis XVI/Directoire, Paris, end of the 18th century
42 x 20 x 62 cm.
Estimate: CHF 30 000 / 50 000

Technical elegance

Preview of the Furniture, Sculpture, Silver and Porcelain Auction on 26 September 2019

Skeleton clocks combine two very different professions: the art of watchmaking, and product design. At the end of the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution was still in its infancy, but fascination with technology grew rapidly. Clocks such as the French skeleton clock offered at auction on 26 September were painstakingly produced by hand at that time, and had evolved from decorative accessories in elaborately designed cases, to technical masterpieces exhibited with pride. The makers took care to show the sophisticated mechanical interplay of the highly refined and precisely crafted movements. The dial was reduced from a large white enamel disc to a ring, thus allowing an unimpeded view of the interior movement. Most valuable skeleton clocks of this period, including the one offered here, are characterised by very precise movements. A special feature of these clocks made in Paris is a compensation pendulum, which can make up for differences in movement caused by variations in temperature.

Meissen, models by J. F. Eberlein.
Circa 1746 / 1763.
H 25 / 30 cm.
Estimate: CHF 40 000 / 60 000

Germany, Franconia ca. 1765.
Carved and polychrome painted wood.
H 58,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 20 000 / 30 000

A pair of magnificent Rococo wall appliques from circa 1765 boasts an exciting provenance: the renowned Munich art dealer Karl Fischer-Böhler arranged the sale of six of these Franconian appliques to Lesley and Emma Shaefer, an American collecting couple, who in turn donated them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where they are exhibited today. Another pair from this same series, which Fischer-Böhler kept for himself, will now be offered at auction in Zurich. In the finesse of their polychrome carvings, but also in the uniqueness of their design, the two naturalistic appliques are reminiscent of the important seating and ornamental furniture from Schloss Seehof, formerly owned by the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg, Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim (1708–1779). Presumably, these wall appliques were also part of the interior, which today – also donated by the Shaefer Collection – belongs to the Met.

Early examples of porcelain wares with the crossed swords mark from the famous Meissen manufactory are among the most sought-after pieces on the historical porcelain market. The large allegories of the four continents of Europe, America, Asia and Africa from 1745 to 1763 offered here are based on models commissioned by the Russian Empress Elizabeth Petrovna in 1745. The designs were provided by the experienced porcelain modeller Johann Friedrich Eberlein (1695–1749). In 1741, Elizabeth I received extensive deliveries of Meissen porcelain from the Saxon Elector Frederick Augustus II, and in the following years she ordered further “white gold” from the “Electoral Saxon Porcelain Manufactory” – pieces which are today in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. Elizabeth’s father, Czar Peter the Great, and Frederick Augustus’s father, Augustus the Strong, were both devoted collectors of porcelain, and had already cultivated friendly relations between the two countries, including the exchange of diplomatic gifts such as porcelain figures.

Transition, Paris ca. 1765/70.
Signed S. OEBEN.
Purpleheart, satinwood and amaranth, inlaid as geometric reserves and fillets and marquetry.
Estimate: CHF 80 000 / 120 000

Milan, 20th century. Maker's mark Buccellati.
Designed as swans. With removable inserts, for bottles.
H 28,5 and 34 cm. Total weight 2960 g.
Estimate: CHF 4 000 / 8 000


01 The tradition-rich Bucellatti firm in Milan is celebrating its centenary in 2019. One of its prominent customers was the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio.

Glass vase with bouquet of flowers, may beetle, snail and other small insects.
Oil on panel.
33,8 × 24 cm.
Estimate: CHF 80 000 / 120 000

Christ on the cross, circa 1497/98.
39 x 27,5 cm. Framed.
Estimate: CHF 15 000 / 20 000

David Roberts. Egypt & Nubia.
From Drawings made on the spot by David Roberts, R.A. Two parts in three volumes.
London, F. G. Moon, 1846–1849.
Estimate: CHF 25 000 / 40 000

02 This bouquet of flowers by the German artist Binoit is typical of the early 17th century, with a dark background and rendered in an almost photorealist manner.

03 Dürer’s “Apocalypse”, comprising 16 motifs, is one of the highlights of printmaking and his depiction of the apocalyptic riders is one of the best-known woodcuts ever made.

04 David Roberts produced this encyclopaedic work depicting buildings and monuments during his journey along the Nile in 1838 and his stays in Cairo and Alexandria in 1839.

05 The IJ was Amsterdam’s direct link to the sea. In addition to winter scenes, Leickert’s trademark was a dramatic sky bathed in evening light.

06 De Noter's painting not only gives a glimpse of everyday life in the mid-19th century, it also enhances the genre scene with details that are themselves small still lifes.

The IJ with Amsterdam in the distance.
Oil on panel.
30 × 40,8 cm.
Estimate: CHF 25 000 / 35 000

Kitchen interior. 1845.
Oil on panel.
76,5 × 58 cm.
Estimate: CHF 20 000 / 30 000

Pair of works: Large exotic sea snail, with flowers and finch /
Large scallop with flowers and goldfinch. 1694.
Oil on canvas. Each 44,5 × 35 cm.
Estimate: CHF 60 000 / 100 000

07 The Swiss painter Bys was commissioned by Emperor Leopold I to paint for the House of Habsburg and Elector Lothar Franz von Schönborn. The inclusion of pendant works was popular in many private collections, as witnessed by this pair of still lifes.

Madonna and Child with Saints Peter, Paul, John the Baptist and Antonius Abbas.
Tempera and gold ground on panel.
46,4 × 33,4 cm.
Estimate: CHF 30 000 / 50 000

Brussels, ca. 1530/40.
Based on the models of a successor of Bernard van Orley.
350 × 430 cm.
Estimate: CHF 10 000 / 15 000

08 This small-format Marian painting from circa 1400 was probably made in Liguria or Tuscany and was originally used for private devotions.

09 This tapestry shows a scene from the Old Testament book of Tobit. Tobit’s son Tobias is accompanied on a journey by the archangel Raphael, who helps him to allow his blind father to see again by using fish gall.

10 This master, whose identity is unknown but whose works are documented in northern Italy, was influenced by the style of the important Florentine painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. This representation of the Madonna stands out through its strict composition as well as its sublime execution.

11 Huysum was praised in his time as the “phoenix of flower and fruit painters” because the delicacy and precision of his paintings was unequalled.

12 The Roman aristocracy valued Piancastelli, who came from a humble background, both as a portrait painter and as an artistic advisor.

Madonna and Child surrounded by archangels. Circa 1500.
Tempera on panel.
67 × 44,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 40 000 / 60 000

Vase of flowers in a niche. Circa 1725-28.
Brown pen, black chalk, grey and brown wash on slightly brown paper.
24,2 x 18,5 cm. Framed.
Estimate: CHF 15 000 / 20 000

Pair of works: Emigrazione dell' Agro Romano - Partendo und Tornando.
Oil on panel.
59,7 × 99,8 cm / 59,1 × 99,9 cm.
Estimate: CHF 180 000 / 250 000

China, 17th/18th century
Height 24 cm, widht 59 cm, weight 22,3 kg.
Parcel-gilt bronze.
Sold for CHF 4,8 Mio

4.8 million for an incense burner

Top results for Asian art

Koller’s Asian Art specialists made an important discovery when they visited a client’s home last autumn: they were offered a large bowl which had been owned by the family for generations, and was now being used as a container for tennis balls and other items. The owners obviously didn’t realize that the misappropriated vessel was an important Chinese imperial censer, made around 1700 in parcel-gilt bronze. This rare find was auctioned at Koller’s Asian Art sale in June, where it fetched the record price of 4.8 million Swiss francs.

Northeastern India, Pala, 8th/9th century.
Height 16,5 cm.
Silver and copper inlays.
Sold for CHF 1,17 Mio.

China, Ming dynasty, first half of 15th century.
Diameter 26 cm.
Golden double vajra on the back. Slightly damaged.
Sold for CHF 144 000

In May, the richly decorated incense burner was the star of the International Antiques Fair in Hong Kong, where Koller exhibited it along with other highlights in advance of the auction. Many of Asia’s most important collectors participated in the auction room in Zurich, or via telephone, creating an intense bidding competition; more than thirty interested parties submitted bids for this unique work. The lot was finally won by a collector from China who is setting up a private museum in Beijing. Interestingly, the censer could have ended up in an important museum of East Asian art as early as the 1960s, when the owners offered it for sale, but the museum politely refused to make an offer. Another attempt at sale in the 1970s did not come to fruition because a London auction house thought the object was likely a 19th-century copy and told the owners that the costs of shipping “would hardly be worth it”.

Phoenix and peonies

China is regarded as the ancient capital of bronze casting. The technique was developed early on there, and perfected over thousands of years. The price of CHF 4.8 million achieved for the incense burner is a record for such an object, for which there are no comparable pieces known in terms of size and quality. Its design is unique: the heads of two phoenixes, whose wings blend into peonies and embrace the vessel, serve as handles. The phoenix is considered the king of birds in China; the peony the queen of flowers. Its symbolic power permeates all branches of Chinese culture. One of the most famous opera pieces of the Ming period, written by Tang Xianzu, a contemporary of Shakespeare, bears the title “Peony Pavilion”. The phoenix is also a symbol of the Chinese empress, which is why it can be assumed that the basin – almost 60 centimetres in diameter and weighing 22 kilograms – was created for an imperial palace or temple. There is a Xuande six-character stamp at the base of the vessel. According to their original purpose, such vessels were filled with rice ashes, into which glowing incense sticks were placed. China has had an important tradition of ancestor veneration for thousands of years, which has always been accompanied by the burning of incense. At such ceremonies, ancestors and gods were honoured by burning incense sticks in temples or before household altars.

The record price for this censer is the culmination of a series of excellent results for important Asian works of art achieved at Koller in recent years. For example, a Tibetan bronze of the deity Panca Raksha was sold for CHF 3.24 million. An imperial room partition made of carved wood fetched CHF 940,000 in 2017. In the same year, Koller sold a bronze sculpture of Buddha Shakyamuni on a lion throne for CHF 1.17 million and an imperial Chinese bronze bell changed hands for CHF 1.2 million.

China, Qianlong mark and of the period.
Height 30 cm.
Sold for CHF 102 000

Les voies et moyens. 1948.
Gouache and gold on paper.
40,5 × 32,8 cm.
Sold for CHF 439 000


01 Magritte deliberately provoked le tout Paris in 1947/48 with a series of caricature-like portraits pervaded by biting criticism.

Mimet. 1962.
Oil on canvas.
46 × 33 cm.
Estimate: CHF 88 000

Schreitende. (figure stepping) Circa 1910.
Oil on canvas.
46,5 × 40 cm.
Sold for CHF 340 000

“Sélection Esther Woerdehoff ”, 1947–2007.
Portfolio with 15 original photographs.
Sheet dimension 28 x 35.5 cm to 40 x 50 cm (various portrait and landscape formats)
Sold for CHF 45 000

02 Dorazio translated phenomena of light and colour into energetic, shimmering compositions.

03 Hodler enjoyed great success throughout Europe in the years around 1900 with variations on symbolically charged full-length fi gures such as this woman (his model, Giulia Leonardi), moving as if in a dance. These female fi gures not only became the artist's trademark, but also icons of Swiss modern art.

04 For the agency’s 60th birthday, gallery owner Woerdehoff published a selection of world-famous Magnum photographs.

05 In Dietrich’s intense landscape paintings, expressiveness and colour combine to create drama, and sometimes also “operatic exaltation”.

06 Sisley does not describe the drama of nature, but reveals the unique amongst the seemingly ordinary.

Evening at the lake with red clouds. 1915.
Oil on board.
28 × 38,5 cm.
Sold for CHF 183 000

Autour de la forêt, juin. Circa 1885.
Oil on canvas.
54 x 72,7 cm.
Sold for CHF 800 000

Red with Green Ellipse / Black frame. 1988/89.
Acrylic and pencil on canvas (diptych).
140 x 210 cm.
Sold for CHF 315 000

07 In Mangold’s voluminous double pictures, colour and material move into space, and this expansion of the picture into the three-dimensional creates a relationship of its own with the viewer. In his works, the artist addresses the dialogue between uncertainty and conviction, between intuition and analysis.

La passoire. 1947.
Oil on wove paper on canvas.
46 x 55 cm.
Sold for CHF 207 000

Ann Windfohr. 1960.
Oil on canvas.
91 x 70 cm.
Sold for CHF 146 000

08 Fautrier’s art informel paintings are characterised by the pasty application of paint and concentration on an isolated, non-objective motif.

09 Kokoschka’s skill as a portraitist was in demand; here he painted the American art collector Ann Windfohr.

10 This portrait of a skier in the mountains above Maloja was one of the last paintings Giacometti made for his client Anna von Planta.

11 Countless artists, including Moret, were fascinated by the unique landscape of the Breton cliffs. In his paintings he combines the Synthetism of the Pont-Aven school with Impressionism.

12 Bugatti’s bronzes – predominantly depictions of animals and figures such as this nude – mark the transition from Art Nouveau to Art Deco.

Skier. 1899.
Oil on canvas.
65,5 × 102 cm.
Sold for CHF 488 000

Falaises, côte de Bretagne. 1910.
Oil on canvas.
64 x 79 cm.
Sold for CHF 110 000

"Le Réveil", circa 1907.
Bronze with brown patina.
H: 34.5 cm.
Sold for CHF 195 000

Pop Shop I-IV. 1988.
Lot of 4 colour screenprints.. 183/200.
Varying image sizes on wove paper 30.5 x 38 cm.
Sold for CHF 56 000

13 This series of four colour silkscreen prints was created during the years when Haring ran his Pop Shop in New York, selling originals and prints of his own works. The style of his figure paintings, which he also often painted on the walls of buildings and on billboards, is unmistakable.

The fruit harvest. 1912.
Oil on canvas.
103 × 115 cm.
Sold for CHF 775 000

Cloud II. 1984.
Painted wood.
84 x 115 x 6,5 cm.
Sold for CHF 73 000

14 Amiet’s apple paintings were a recurring theme throughout his artistic career. Many studies and variations of this subject coalesced over the course of a few years, until about 1915, into a veritable group of works including this large-format painting. In this version of the fruit harvest the artist is at the cusp of the main artistic currents of that period: the Expressionism of the Fauves, die Brücke and Cubism. This work comes from the collection of Eugen Loeb, with whom Amiet was friends until his death.

15 With their genuine pictorial inventions, the generation of artists that included Louise Nevelson contributed to the emancipation of contemporary American art from European influences.

Dominique. 1988.
Woodcut in colour. 7/18.
103 x 115 cm.
Sold for CHF 168 000

Swiss Printmakers

Results for Swiss prints

The protagonists of Swiss printmaking have left their mark on art history in many fascinating ways, especially within the last 150 years. The tradition ranges from woodcuts and etchings by Félix Vallotton to lithographs by Alberto Giacometti, linocuts by Lill Tschudi and woodcuts by Franz Gertsch. Their works reveal an endless variety of expressive possibilities in printmaking. Particularly fascinating are the different results that can be achieved while using the same techniques: although Vallotton and Gertsch both made woodcuts, their pictorial worlds could not differ more.

Guards. 1936.
Linocut in red.
Image 16 x 20.2 cm on thin Japan laid paper 22.5 x 28 cm.
Sold for CHF 2 500

Félix Vallotton (1865–1925) used powerful, flat black-andwhite contrasts in his individual prints and series to create his signet-like motifs. With only a few perfectly placed cuts in the wooden block he succeeded in creating timeless images. It is also interesting to note the stark contrast between the artist’s woodcuts and his drawings and paintings. This is not the case with Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966), whose lithographs and etchings are closely related to his drawings and paintings. Giacometti's drawings on litho stone did not differ in motif or style from his unique works on paper and canvas. His characteristic oeuvre is dominated by portraits, landscapes and interior views of his studio. In the book Paris sans fin, published in 1969, the 150 illustrations by Giacometti demonstrate his consummate skill as a lithographer. Published in a small edition, it was a milestone in 20th-century printmaking art.

Lill Tschudi (1911–2004), who studied at the innovative and influential Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London in the late 1920s, caused a sensation with her striking linocuts. Pablo Picasso was one of the principal artists to establish this technique in modern art. Claude Flight introduced the Glarus-born Tschudi to the linocut technique, while companions such as André Lhote, Gino Severini, and Fernand Léger broadened her artistic horizons. In contrast to most of her contemporaries, Tschudi worked exclusively in linocut. Her subjects of the interwar years in particular reflect the Zeitgeist impressively: her motifs are characterized by technical progress, intensity and speed, but also by anonymity and the looming crisis of the late “Roaring Twenties”.

Among contemporary Swiss artists, Franz Gertsch (*1930) is closely associated with the Swiss printmaking tradition. Monumental woodcuts play a central role in his work. From 1986 to 1994, Gertsch devoted himself exclusively to working in woodcut and in doing so advanced to completely independent forms of expression. With his own Japan paper, Gertsch attained the limits of what is possible in woodblock printing and opened up a new dimension for this classical medium. His prints are dominated by monochrome, format-filling portraits of women from his circle and fascinating details from landscapes, to which the artist has a special connection. Gertsch imbues his works with incomparable plasticity and dynamism with the simplest of means but with masterly execution.unprecedented precision, not least in the production of

Les Trois Baigneuses. 1894.
Woodcut. 85/100.
30.5 × 20 cm.
Sold for CHF 9 500

Self-portrait. 1963.
Lithograph. 64/75.
65.4 × 50.5 cm
Sold for CHF 10 000

Founder and grand seigneur

Pierre Koller dies at the age of 94

Anyone who entered the Galerie Koller on Zurich’s Rämistrasse next to the legendary “Kronenhalle” restaurant in the 1960s–80s was received by the owner as if he or she were a regular customer. Those who were, always felt welcome there – and those who weren’t did too. For Pierre Koller barely differentiated between new customers and long-time art collectors when, stretching out his arms, he rushed towards them with a “Bonjour, Monsieur”, or a “Guten Tag, Madame”. His charm was as legendary as his wit, which he employed to keep saleroom bidders in the best of spirits during long auction sessions.

Pierre Koller was a grand seigneur in the old style, an art lover with a French penchant for the grandiose, and above all an excellent salesman. A lawyer by training, he opened a picture gallery on Zurich’s Dufourstrasse in 1958, specialising in equestrian prints – the 34-year-old was fascinated by horse-related art, and he decided to turn his hobby into his profession. The following year he was joined by his sister Antoinette, who had an eye for ceramics, silver and Asian art, and it didn’t take long before the Kollers expanded the range of the gallery.

nternationally, Pierre Koller became known for his expertise in quality antique furniture and objets d’art, especially of French origin. He held his first auction in 1960 at the Kongresshaus in Zurich, when several important collections were consigned to him, including a group of clocks from a private Augsburg collector. In 1961, the company moved to the Rämistrasse where it established an impressive five-story auction house. Soon Koller was holding regular auctions of valuable art objects and entire collections from all categories at the Rämistrasse. In 1991, Galerie Koller moved its headquarters from the Rämistrasse to the Hardturmstrasse in Zurich West, at a time when nobody had any idea that the neighbourhood would become a mecca for art galleries.

A highlight in Pierre Koller’s life as an auctioneer was the 1995 auction of an epochal private collection of Napoleonica, in which Koller specialised. In 1973, a portrait of Dora Maar by Pablo Picasso realised the first hammer price of over one million Swiss francs at Koller Auctions. One of the last of Pierre Koller’s countless successes on the rostrum was a bureau plat by the famous cabinetmaker André-Charles Boulle, which he sold to a private London collector for 3 million Swiss francs in September 2014, a few days after his 90th birthday.

Pierre Koller’s art gallery and auction house quickly grew into a small empire. In 1975, a branch was opened in Lucens Castle in French-speaking Switzerland, which was moved in 1980 to the Rue de l’Athénée, Geneva. “Koller Tiefenbrunnen” was introduced in 1977 as an outlet for medium- and low-priced works of art, a market segment later served by “Koller West” on the Hardturmstrasse. In 2004, Pierre Koller handed over the management of the family business to his eldest son Cyril.

Pierre Koller was a pacesetter for the Swiss art trade. He taught the ropes of the art business to a great many people who later became some of the most famous gallery owners and auctioneers in Zurich. The founder of today’s largest Swiss auction house died on 23 June at the age of 94.

This obituary by Philipp Meier appeared in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on 26 June 2019.

KOLLERview is published four times a year,

the next issue will follow in June 2019.

Read as PDF

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear clients and friends,

Ferdinand Hodler’s elegiac female figures are one of the artist’s hallmarks, and have become icons of Swiss modern art. Through Hodler’s constant re-examination of the motif, they eventually became representations of fate. With these works, the artist suggests emotions and at the same time pays homage to infinity and beauty. Illustrated on the cover of this issue, “Die Schreitende” (“The pacing woman”, which shows Hodler’s model Giulia Leonardi) was painted around 1912, at the zenith of his artistic career. It will be offered in our 28 June auction of Swiss Art, which features a comprehensive overview of 19th- and early 20th-century Swiss painting, including practically all of the great names from this period.

Also of special note is Giovanni Giacometti’s four-part panorama of the Swiss Engadine from Muottas Muragl over the snow-capped peaks and green mountain valleys of the Engadine – as far as the eye can see.

Like Hodler and Giacometti, their contemporary Cuno Amiet was popular with private art collectors. The Swiss department store entrepreneur and friend of Amiet, Eugen Loeb, acquired numerous examples of his work, including the expressive “Apple Harvest in Blue and Red”, another highlight of the Swiss Art auction on 28 June.

Also on 28 June, we will offer an auction of works by Impressionist and Modern artists, featuring a wonderful landscape by the great Impressionist Alfred Sisley. Swiss and international art from the last 70 years will be auctioned on 29 June in our Postwar & Contemporary sale. Featured works demonstrate how American avant-garde artists developed styles independent of European roots and influences during the post-war decades. Works by Hans Hofmann, Alfred Julio Jensen and Theodoros Stamos, as well as Robert Mangold and Andy Warhol, represent various lines of development, from Abstract Expressionism through Minimalism to Pop Art.

All of the works in our main June auctions will be on view in our exhibition rooms in Zurich from 20 to 25 June. In addition to international and Swiss art from the last 200 years, jewellery and wristwatches, modern design, vintage fashion and photography will all be on display.

As you may know, since 2018 we have been offering low to mid-price decorative artworks and objects online in our Koller ibid online only sales. The items currently in our online auctions will also be on display during the June previews.

I hope you enjoy reading this issue, and look forward to greeting you at our previews in Zurich. Our specialists are always available to advise you on the purchase and sale of works of art.

With warm regards

Cyril Koller

Evening at the lake with red clouds. 1915.
Oil on board.
28 x 38,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 150 000 / 200 000

Dietrich was one of the most important Swiss artists of the early 20th century in terms of formal balance and fascinating colouring. This is the first of a long series of sunset paintings by Dietrich which began in 1915. Pastel studies from nature served as a basis for studio-painted oils on canvas. Here the artist shows himself to be completely independent and unaffected by external influences.

Temple of Numbers at Paestum. 1961.
Oil on canvas.
186,5 x 136,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 250 000 / 350 000

American Avant-garde after 1945

Preview of the PostWar & Contemporary Auction on 29 June 2019

Following his emigration, the German-American Hans Hofmann (1880–1966), ostracized by the National Socialists as “degenerate”, was an influential teacher of the New York School and a driving force for the first generation of Abstract Expressionists. His gouache “The tree” (08) is invigorated by the intense colour tones that characterise his late work. The US art critic Clement Greenberg noted: “Hofmann treats the picture surface not as a passive object, but as an object that reacts receptively”.

Red with Green Ellipse / Black frame. 1988/89.
Acrylic and pencil on canvas (diptych).
140 x 210 cm.
Estimate: CHF 180 000 / 240 000

Hovering Yellow Sun Box. 1967.
Acrylic on canvas.
143 x 132 cm.
Estimate: CHF 40 000 / 60 000

Emancipation from Europe

Hofmann influenced an entire generation of artists who, increasingly detached from European trends and with new references to indigenous and so-called “primitive” art, went their own way. Among them were Theodoros Stamos (1922–1997), one of the leading first-generation Abstract Expressionists, and Hofmann pupils such as Alfred Jensen (1859–1953) and Louise Nevelson (1899–1988), who created genuine forms of expression that contributed to the emancipation of new contemporary art in the USA. They were followed by artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, who became the links to Pop Art. Geometric forms on a monochrome ground compose Stamos’s “Hovering Yellow Sun-Box” (03), one of a series of Sun-Box paintings he began in the early 1960s. Alfred Jensen created his monumental “Temple of Numbers at Paestum” (01) in 1961, when the Guggenheim Museum in New York dedicat­ed an important solo exhibition to him. The artist, of German-Danish descent, became well known for his geometric-abstract paintings in thick impasto, which, starting in the late 1950s, were based mainly on colour spectra and mathematical number systems.

Eine ebenfalls höchst individuelle Spur legt der Minimalist Robert Mangold (geb. 1937). Sein Diptychon «Red with Green Ellipse/Black Frame» von 1988/89 (02) hat tektonischen Charakter. In ihm rücken Farbe und Material in den Raum und es entsteht über diese Ausdehnung des Bildes ins Dreidimensionale eine eigene Beziehung zum Betrachter. Die markante Diptychon-Kombination von Ellipse und schwarzem Rahmen taucht um 1990 in einer Werkgruppe auf, zu der Mangold konstatierte: «Ich wollte, dass diese fast gegensätzlichen Strukturen, die an einer Kante oder sogar nur an einem Punkt verbunden sind, ein einziges Werk ergeben. Es war dieser Kampf zwischen Trennung und Einheit, der mich interessierte.» Obwohl Mangolds abstraktes Werk Vielen als Inbegriff des Reduktionismus und Minimalismus gilt, erweist es sich in seinen Quellen und Ambitionen als komplexer. Der Künstler stützt sich vor allem auf den Dialog zwischen Unsicherheit und Überzeugung, zwischen Intuition und Analyse.

04 Polke, trained as a glassmaker (he created the new glass and agate windows in the Zurich Grossmünster church, 2006–2009), founded the “Capitalist Realism” movement with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg in 1963. Many of his works are ironic reactions to the established art scene.

05 Gertsch’s monumental woodcuts are not only outstanding in their craftsmanship, but also as astonishing testimonies to his intensive, even meditative preoccupation with nature and its secrets.

Untitlet. 1999.
Watercolour and gouache on wove paper.
70,2 x 99,7 cm.
Estimate: CHF 60 000 / 80 000

Gräser I. 2000.
Woodcut in colours.
Estimate: CHF 40 000 / 50 000

La passoire. 1947.
Oil on wove paper on canvas
46 x 55 cm.
Estimate: CHF 100 000 / 200 000

06 Fautrier’s paintings draw their vitality from the impasto application of paint and the concentration on an isolated motif. The Frenchman is regarded as the most important representative of his country in the non-geometric art informal.

07 The work of the Canadian action painter Riopelle is closely related to the works of the Parisian automatistes and tachistes.

08 The German-American Hans Hofmann, in his role as teacher of the New York school, provided the American Abstract Expressionists with a driving force. Colourintensive gouaches like this one characterise his late work.

Untitled. 1958.
Oil on wove paper on canvas.
79,5 x 59 cm.
Estimate: CHF 50 000 / 70 000

The Tree. 1944.
Oil and gouache on wove paper (double sided).
73,5 x 58,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 35 000 / 45 000

09 Produced in a small edition, this plate shows Picasso’s ability to create works of art with the simplest of means.

10 The first “Balloon Dogs” were issued by Koons as part of his “Celebration” series in 1993. These playful sculptures – here in a limited edition of porcelain – are now among the most well-known works of contemporary art.

11 Dorazio, trained as an architect, brought abstraction to Italy with his non-objective pictorial language and chromatic structures.

Tête au masque. 1956.
Plate. Ceramic with relief.
Estimate: CHF 5 000 / 7 000

Animals II. 2019.
3 Multiples. Porcelain.
Estimate: CHF 25 000 / 30 000

Mimet. 1962.
Oil on canvas.
46 x 33 cm.
Estimate: CHF 30 000 / 40 000

Quadrate in Bewegung. 1958.
Oil on masonite.
70 x 100 cm.
Estimate: CHF 60 000 / 80 000

12 During his time as a Bauhaus teacher, Itten set up a whole theory of colour types, centred on the relationship between colour and form and between colours themselves. Abstractions such as these squares shaped his work through the post-war period.

Untitled. 1999.
Ink, watercolour and goauche on wove paper.
70,2 x 100 cm.
Estimate: CHF 80 000 / 140 000

Apple. 1985.
Colour screenprint. 165/190.
Sheet size 96,5 x 96,5 cm
Estimate: CHF 50 000 / 70 000

13 For decades, Polke was engaged in watercolour and gouache painting, alternating between abstraction and figuration in a multifaceted and metaphorically charged manner.

14 In 1985, Warhol created a series of ten “advertising” motifs in which famous brand logos – such as Apple’s here – were employed as symbols of mass consumption.

Femme endormie. 1945.
Oil on panel.
24 x 33 cm.
Estimate: CHF 80 000 / 120 000

Magritte’s Parisian Provocation

Preview of the Impressionist and Modern Art Auction on 28 June 2019

René Magritte was very angry. The Belgian, who for years had attempted to curry the favour of his fellow artists and the art-going public in Paris, was repeatedly given the cold shoulder. In 1931, he turned his back on the city, the veritable capital of Surrealism. Then, in 1948, he had a unique opportunity to take his revenge. During just five weeks around the turn of the year 1947/48, Magritte created seventeen oil paintings and twenty gouaches for an exhibition at the Galerie du Faubourg in Paris. These works were painted in a fast and somewhat aggressive style that was new to Magritte, inspired by popular sources such as caricatures and comics, along with stylistic borrowings from artists such as James Ensor and Edouard Manet, Henri Matisse and Joan Miró. The shrill, expressive, rebelliously grotesque images added a new facet to Magritte’s oeuvre.

Paysage de Corbières. Circa 1949.
Oil on panel.
33 x 23,8 cm.
Estimate: CHF 100 000 / 150 000

Ann Windfohr. 1960.
Oil on canvas.
91 x 70 cm.
Estimate: CHF 60 000 / 80 000

Biting mockery

The paintings from this brief “Période vache” – to which “Les voies et moyens” (ill. 4) offered in our 28 June auction belongs – contain a visual vocabulary unusual for Magritte, who adopted the Fauvists’ exaggerated colouring to create pictures infused with biting mockery. With this unexpectedly crude style, he ran counter to his own work, and also to modernist painting. The term “Période vache”, which Magritte himself gave to this short but intense creative phase, was ironically intended to allude to the art of the Fauvists, who were pejoratively labelled as “wild animals” because of their intense palette and expressive manner of painting. In French, the word “vache” not only means “cow”, but also “mean” or “unpleasant”, and “vacherie” signifies a nasty trick.

Magritte clearly intended the exhibition as a provocation to the Parisian public. Through more or less subtle allusions, he poked fun at them for their “narrow-minded self-image as a bastion of high culture” and at the same time mocked his French artist colleagues. “They are works of sparkling freedom, in which the most foolhardy thoughts, the individual style, and the illumination make a frightened noise, where flagrancy mixes with esprit, outrage with amazement, violence with tenderness, wisdom with whimsy” (Louis Scutenaire).

Not surprisingly, the gallery did not sell a single work from the show. Nonetheless, Magritte achieved his goal: the Parisians were horrified by the nearly forty works, and the press lambasted the exhibition. All the pictures from the “Période vache” then disappeared from the public eye for decades, before they were re-evaluated as a modern art-critical manifesto and were again shown in solo exhibitions beginning in the 1980s, most recently in 2009 at the Kunsthalle Schirn in Frankfurt.

Les voies et moyens. 1948.
Gouache and gold on paper.
40,5 x 32,8 cm.
Estimate: CHF 250 000 / 400 000

Autour de la forêt, juin. Circa 1885.
Oil on canvas.
54 x 72,7 cm.
Estimate: CHF 700 000 / 1 000 000

En plein air with Alfred Sisley

Preview of the Impressionist & Modern Art Auction on 28 June 2019

Many of Alfred Sisley’s landscape paintings, such as “Autour de la Forêt, Juin” (ill. 1) offered on 28 June, are deeply calm. Instead of describing the drama of nature and the elements, the artist gently takes viewers by the hand, in order to show us something special in the seemingly ordinary.

Les Brisants. 1898.
Oil on canvas.
51 x 65 cm.
Estimate: CHF 50 000 / 70 000

Falaises, côte de Bretagne. 1910.
Oil on canvas.
64 x 79 cm.
Estimate: CHF 60 000 / 80 000

Like most of Sisley’s paintings from this period circa 1885, “Autour de la Forêt” was certainly created in the open air. With the availability of oil paints in portable tubes, artists were liberated from their Paris studios to paint the picturesque landscapes of nearby Île-de-France outdoors. For Sisley, this meant above all, the representation of the sky: “I always start a picture with the sky”, he wrote. In addition to the light palette, the different treatment of the various parts of the picture is typical of Sisley’s style of those years. While he delicately glazes the summer cloud formations, he renders the plants, paths and meadows with skilfully placed impasto brushstrokes. Thus trees, fields and the tall haystack in the foreground appear more intense and lively. Sisley captures the ephemeral, the atmospheric, and the insubstantial as an “Impressionist” who never denied his enthusiasm for Turner and Constable.

Far away from the Zeitgeist

From the early 1870s, Sisley established himself among the painters Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas and Berthe Morisot, who were later disparagingly referred to as “Impressionists” or “Intransigeants”. Born in Paris in 1839 to English parents, Sisley was one of the founding members of the Société anonyme des artistes, peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, whose works had previously been rejected by the conservative Paris Salon. He showed two landscapes in the first Impressionist exhibition, held in the studio of the photographer Nadar in the spring of 1874. In the 1882 catalogue of the group show there were no fewer than twenty-seven of his paintings. In the following years, Sisley withdrew more and more from society. The fact that his close friends Renoir and Monet remained at his side until his early death in 1899 must have been a comfort to him, but relatively few of his other contemporaries, with the exception of his fellow artist Camille Pissarro and the energetic art dealer/gallery owner Paul Durand-Ruel, recognized Sisley’s rank among the painters of light. He did not receive the level of attention accorded the other Impressionists until recently, with exhibitions at the Von der Heydt Museum in Wuppertal, Germany, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT and the Hôtel de Caumont in Aix-en-Provence.

Nach dem Bade (After the bath). Before 1912.
Oil on canvas.
80 x 90 cm.
Estimate: CHF 30 000 / 50 000

Panorama von Muottas Muragl. 1898.
Oil on canvas.
Total: 67 x 510 cm
Estimate: CHF 2 800 000 / 4 000 000

As far as the eye can see: Giovanni Giacometti’s Engadine

Preview of the Swiss Art Auction on 28 June 2019

Early one October morning in 1897, the painters Giovanni Segantini and Giovanni Giacometti, accompanied by a photographer, set off on foot for Muottas Muragl, a 2453-metre high mountain southeast of Samedan in the Swiss Engadine. The ridge, which ten years later could easily be reached by funicular – the first of its kind in the Engadine – offers a breathtaking view over the Upper Engadine and the Engadine Lake District. The reason for their excursion was to make preparatory sketches for a gigantic circular painting to be presented at the Paris Exposition of 1900. Segantini had conceived a Gesamtkunstwerk in a circular building that would not only evoke the beauty of the Engadine through painting, but also with physical objects such as trees and alpine roses, waterfalls and bridges. The experience would be further enhanced with wind machines, as well as light and sound effects. Giovanni Giacometti, for whom Segantini (his elder by ten years) was a mentor, had enthusiastically promised his cooperation, and Cuno Amiet and Ferdinand Hodler were also invited to participate. However the project, sponsored by local tourism organisations, was abandoned for financial reasons. Segantini eventually showed the triptych “La Vita – La Natura – La Morte” (Life – Nature – Death) as a smaller project in Paris, with “La Natura” reproducing the view from Segantini’s cabin, slightly above Muottas Muragl.

Skier. 1899.
Oil on canvas.
65,5 x 102 cm.
Estimate: CHF 50 000 / 70 000

Eagle with the landscape of Engadine. 1898.
Oil on canvas laid on panel
44,5 x 82 cm (semicircle).
Estimate: CHF 60 000 / 80 000

Four motifs for the centrepiece

Giovanni Giacometti was able to use his studies made on Muottas Muragl for another commission: in October 1897, Anna von Planta commissioned paintings from him for her chalet in St Moritz-Bad. Of the ten paintings Giacometti subsequently completed, the four-part panorama of Muottas Muragl (ill. 1), to be offered on 28 June, was the centrepiece of the dining room. The first panel shows the view of the Roseg valley to the south of Muottas Muragl. Between Piz Chalchan on the left and Piz Surlej on the right, the snow-capped Sella group rises with the (then still striking) glacier tongues of the Sella and Roseg glaciers. Giacometti painted the view using the Divisionist technique he had learned from his teacher, Segantini. This is particularly evident in the forest areas, whose rich green is interspersed with complementary red. The rock formations, which are not composed of dull grey but of a rich palette of yellow, green, blue and pink, show the artist to be a master of colour.

In the second panel, a shepherd with a herd looks down on Lake St Moritz with St Moritz and St Moritz-Bad. The 3380-metre high Julier massif rises above it, and to the right the Piz Bever, somewhat bulkier than in reality. In other respects as well, the painter took a number of artistic liberties with the topography in this panel. For example, Lake St Moritz is perceived from Muottas Muragl diagonally rather than horizontally. The deviations from reality may be partly explained by the fact that Giovanni Giacometti executed the paintings in the winter of 1897/98 in Oschwand with his friend Cuno Amiet, and not on-site. Although he asked Giovanni Segantini for the photographs taken on Muottas Muragl at the end of 1897, he was apparently not interested in the slavish reproduction of reality, for he wrote in a letter: “I chose the view of Muottas Muragl as the motif for the composition, at least as far as the mountain range and the woods are concerned”. Commenting on a study, Anna von Planta even suspected that Giacometti placed the foreground approximately at the Hahnensee (Lej dals Chöds) below the Piz Surlej, so that the two villages would be Silvaplana and Champfèr.

The foreground of the third panel is dominated by a shepherd surrounded by his sheep. The view now turns to the west, where Piz Saluver appears at the left edge and Piz Ot to its right, marking the highest point of this area at 3246 metres.

The last panel completes the panorama with the view into the Val Bever. Here the horizon is marked on the left by Piz Üertsch, in the centre by Crasta Mora, and on the right by Piz Blaisun and the towering massif of Piz Kesch. What is striking is the absence of a distant view of Silvaplanersee, Silsersee and the Bergeller mountains – a segment that would actually be expected between the first and second panels. The reasons for this are unknown. In the correspondence with Anna von Planta there is explicit mention of four panels. However, a privately-owned study suggests that Giacometti had initially planned to show the lakes. The break in the continuum of space, however, is hardly noticed by the viewer and in no way diminishes the overall pictorial impression. Giacometti succeeds in this by a creating a unified panorama of the terrain in the foreground, through the horizontal strips of the lakes, as well as by the symmetrical positioning of the sheep in relation to the shepherd in the centre of the composition.

In dialogue with the client

The letters Anna von Planta wrote to Giacometti reflect her great interest in the progress of the works. It seems that the painter took his client’s criticism of the sketches partly into account in the execution of the pictures. Von Planta wrote: “The background of high mountain peaks is very pretty, but the mountain peaks might have calmer forms & less jagged & craggy, more in keeping with the character of our Engadine mountains. With regard to the detail of the foreground, I wouldn’t like to see too many alpine roses. One or two strong, flowering plants in the lower corner of the fourth field would probably suffice”. Anna von Planta also requested goats instead of sheep, but on this point Giacometti did not comply.

A few years after the panorama of Muottas Muragl, Giacometti created another monument to the beauty of the Grisons mountains with the panorama of Flims. The three-part composition was auctioned at Koller in 2016 and can now be admired at the Saner Foundation in Studen.

By Paul Müller, co-author of the catalogue raisonné of Giovanni Giacometti

Ruscello alpestre. Circa 1917.
Oil on canvas.
61,5 x 51 cm.
Estimate: CHF 150 000 / 250 000

The fruit harvest (produced in preparation for the Wassmer version). 1912.
Oil on canvas.
103 x 115 cm.
Estimate: CHF 600 000 / 800 000

Cuno Amiet from the Loeb Collection

Preview of the Swiss Art Auction on 28 June 2019

The artist Cuno Amiet (1868–1961) and the Swiss department store entrepreneur and art collector Eugen Loeb (1877–1959) formed a close friendship beginning in the 1930s. Loeb – who like his brother (and Loeb department store co-owner) Arthur, had assembled an important art collection including works by Vallotton, Barraud, Varlin and Gubler, as well as Monet, Pissarro and Renoir – bought dozens of paintings and drawings from the artist. Amiet appreciated Loeb’s expertise and his sure hand in selecting the works. “I never want to you to see anything by me that I didn’t think was quite good”, the artist wrote to the collector in October 1936.

Blue landscape. Circa 1910.
Watercolour on paper.
23,5 x 29,7 cm.
Estimate: CHF 10 000 / 15 000

The Loebs’ enthusiasm extended to important works from Amiet's very early years, acquired partly from the artist himself but probably also through the art trade, such as “The fruit harvest” and “Houses in the sun”.

“Liberation from Nature Painting”

Paintings of apples were a recurring theme throughout Amiet’s career. The motif of the apple or fruit harvest entered his pictorial world in 1907, and studies and numerous variations on the theme developed over the course of a few years – until about 1915 – into a distinctive group of works including the large-format oil on canvas entitled “The fruit harvest (Apple harvest in blue and red)” (ill. 1) to be offered on 28 June. The figure in the landscape exemplifies the artist’s iconographic references to paintings by Cézanne, Gauguin and Matisse. His choice of intense red – “the brightest and at the same time deepest colour that can express the idea of opulence”, as Amiet stated – is inspired by works by Emile Bernard.

Amiet’s palette alternates in his various creative phases: “Thus, as far as the colouring alone was concerned, one would have to speak of a remarkable ability to change”, the Basler Nachrichten stated in its obituary of the artist in 1961. “It could also be seen in earlier periods, for example in those monochrome representations of the apple harvest that, mostly tuned to red, rank among the boldest and most idiosyncratic creations of Amiet”. Already in 1912 Eberhard Grisebach saw in the monochrome motifs a great “progress, a liberation from nature painting” and a “transition to the creative decorative style.” Viola Radlach also noted that the simplified, contoured silhouettes recall the Cloisonnism or Synthetism of the school of Pont-Aven around Paul Gauguin.

The paintings from the Loeb Collection offered here display the intense creative process involved in Amiet’s “Fruit Harvest” works, culminating in three monumental versions. This motif, together with the few monochrome ones, stands out as an indepen­dent work from this series, because Amiet’s spontaneous expressive style in contrasting red/blue is most convincing here. He is at the height of the main artistic currents of the time: the expressionism of the Fauves, die Brücke and Cubism.

A further sixteen works by Amiet from the Loeb Collection will be offered on 28 June, including the small-format watercolour “Blue landscape” (ill. 2), painted in 1910, and two later landscapes, “Spring landscape with yellow flowering trees” (1938), and “Garden gate” (1931, ill. 3).

Gartent(h)or. 1931.
Oil on canvas.
85,5 x 65,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 70 000 / 100 000


Wrist- & Pocket Watches | Jewellery & Jewels

Patek Philippe Chronograph with Perpetual Calendar, 1998.
Platinum 950. Ref. 3970 E.
Estimate: CHF 95 000 / 140 000

Patek Philippe, Jumbo Nautilus, ca. 1979.
Stainless steel. Ref. 3700/1.
Estimate: CHF 40 000 / 60 000

Rolex Daytona Oyster Perpetual, 2012.
Stainless Steel. Ref. 116520.
Estimate: CHF 12 000 / 18 000


Platinum and white gold.
Estimate: CHF 20 000 / 30 000

Pink gold and silver.
Estimate: CHF 180 000 / 280 00

White gold 750.
Estimate: CHF 150 000 / 200 000


Trompe-l'oeil: putti dancing.
Oil on board laid on panel.
26 x 33,5 cm.
Sold for CHF 44 000

Deceptively real / Really deceptive

Review of the Old Masters Auction on 29 March 2019

To deceive the eye is the explicit intention of trompe l’oeil painting. Such illusions were already well-developed in antiquity, as evidenced by wall paintings in Pompeii. Pliny the Elder recounted a famous competition between the painters Parrhasius and Zeuxis: although Zeuxis attracted birds with his false grapes, he was deceived by a curtain painted by Parrhasius, and he attempted to raise it.

The practise of trompe l’oeil painting was revived during the Renaissance. In addition to illusionist wall and ceiling paintings, it was considered good form in the painter’s guild to master hyper-realistic depictions, for example through so-called “quodlibet” paintings, which featured realistically rendered domestic items. One of the highlights of this fashion is Cornelius Gijsbrecht’s “Back of a Painting” from 1670.

François Ferrière’s “Dancing Putti” (ill. 1) represents a highly original variant of the illusionist painting popular in 17th-century Flanders and 18th-century France. The artist tries to deceive the observer with every means at his disposal. Not only is an illusionistic cast shadow intended to mislead the viewer into perceiving a three-dimensional object, but also its edges are irregularly chipped. At first glance, or perhaps even at second glance, the two-dimensional painting seems to be a fragment of a stone sculpture or a bas-relief plaster cast. The heads and bodies of the putti, which seem to protrude from the pictorial ground, appear amazingly three-dimensional. Ferrière succeeds in manipulating his audience in a masterly manner.

The rescue of Saint Paul after the shipwreck.
Oil on panel.
34,5 x 27,5 cm.
Sold for 72 500

From canvas to stained glass

Review of the Old Masters Auction on 29 March 2019

“The rescue of Saint Paul after the shipwreck” (ill. 2) is one of several detailed preliminary studies by Abraham van Diepenbeeck (1596–1675) for the ten stained-glass windows of the Dominican Church of St. Paul in Antwerp. The windows, which were executed circa 1638 and have since been lost, depicted scenes from the life of Saint Paul of Tarsus. Stained-glass windows by van Diepenbeeck, whose father was also a glass painter, have been preserved in the Loretto Chapel of the Carmelite Monastery and the City Hall in Antwerp. During his years in Antwerp from 1620 onwards, van Diepenbeeck worked closely with his Flemish colleague Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), whose stylistic influence can be seen in the preserved oil studies and drawings.

The painting depicts the story of Paul’s journey as a prisoner to Rome, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles by the Evangelist Luke. Paul, who was to be brought before the Roman imperial court in the year 59 or 60, sensed an imminent storm and predicted a shipwreck: “Men, I can see that our voyage will be filled with disaster and great loss, not only to ship and cargo, but to our own lives as well”. The storm did come and the ship ran aground on a sandbank, but Paul, along with the other “two hundred and seventy-six souls”, was rescued on the nearby north coast of the island of Malta, presumably in Salina Bay near the village of Burmarrad. Van Diepenbeeck’s painting captures the scene in which the powerless “apostle of nations” is rescued from the waves and carried to safe ground. In the collection of the Städel Museum in Frankfurt am Main there is a chalk drawing with wash and gouache by van Diepenbeeck showing the same motif in landscape format.

Vagabonds playing dice and a peasant couple, circa 1525-30.
Pen and black ink, partially with wash, on laid paper. Old backing on laid paper.
18,1 x 22 cm. Gerahmt.
Sold for CHF 120 500

With virtuoso pen work

Review of the Old Master Drawings Auction on 29 March 2019

An important Swiss art museum acquired this accomplished 16th-century German ink drawing of vagabonds playing dice at the 29 March auction (ill. 3). Such rural scenes were very much in vogue at the time of its execution: “Depictions of this theme enjoyed great popularity from about 1520 until after the middle of the century. Copper engravings and woodcuts contributed to its widespread use. Pictures of peasant drolleries and bustling church fairs were popular with Dürer’s successors among the Nuremberg minor masters, but were also in demand in the Swabian region” (Fritz Koreny).

The vagabonds’ roadside gambling quite obviously arouses displeasure in the farmers, as suggested by the man pointing at the dice and the couple’s grim facial expressions. The maypole in the background and the peasant’s decorated hat may refer to the couple’s destination.

This drawing was made during a period in which artists such as Martin Schongauer, Albrecht Dürer, Albrecht Altdorfer and others revolutionised the world of motifs and graphic techniques. Executed in pen and ink with wash, on a medium-sized sheet of laid paper, it captivates by the virtuoso pen work of its creator

The attribution to Hans Weiditz the Younger is based on comparisons with woodcuts by Weiditz, such as illustrations to Francesco Petrarch’s On the remedies of good and bad fortune (Augsburg, 1532), in which numerous similarities of motif and style can be identified. Particularly striking are the expressive faces which have been worked through to the last detail, and the garments rendered with the utmost care.

Little is known about the German draughtsman Hans Weiditz the Younger, born around 1500 in Strasbourg or Freiburg, who is sometimes called the Master of Petrarch. Too few of his works have been attribu­ted with certainty. He may have worked in Augsburg, Strasbourg, and finally Freiburg im Breisgau, where documents show his death in 1536. Among the works attributed to Weiditz is a series of botanical watercolours, created in 1529 and subsequently converted into woodcuts illustrating the three-volume edition of Herbarum vivae eicones (Strasbourg, 1530–1536) by Otto Brunfels. The watercolours were rediscovered in 1930 in the collection of the Botanical Institute in Bern.

1 DIAMOND RING, circa 1960.
Platinum 950.
Sold for CHF 137 300


1 The faceted diamond in this classic solitaire ring is distinguished by its extremely fine quality.

2 Adam Willaerts, who was born in London to a family originally from Antwerp, is considered one of the most important marine painters of the Golden Age. From the late 16th century on, he devoted himself to genre and marine painting in the north of the Netherlands.

River mouth with galley ships. 1620.
Oil on panel.
41,5 x 69,7 cm.
Sold for CHF 84 500

Yellow gold 750 and Platinum 900, 114g.
Sold for 28 100

3 The original and amusing frogs in this green-enamelled, highly decorative bracelet were a very successful crea­tion for New York jeweller David Webb (1925–1975).

4 This painting, probably executed for a private Florentine palazzo, was made by a pupil of Lorenzo di Credi, one of the most influential artists of the High Renaissance, who was trained by Leonardo da Vinci.

5 This ointment jar with a portrait of a woman comes from a famous group of maiolica apothecary jars. Some of these so-called albarelli bear the coats of arms of Orsini and Colonna, two of the most influential Roman families of the 15th and 16th centuries.

6 The motif employed by Arnold Böcklin in this 1889 painting refers to Peter Paul Rubens’s “Battle of the Amazons” (circa 1680). This dynamic, powerful composition can be interpreted as a rebellion of Christian morality against the alienated, oppressed masses of the Roman Empire – a clash of different cultures and thus a timeless phenomenon.

Madonna and Child with John the Baptist.
Oil on panel.
57,3 x 53,2 cm.
Sold for CHF 65 300

Castelli d'Abruzzo, workshop of Orazio Pompei (1507-1589).
Circa 1545-1555.
Sold for CHF 13 700

The battle on the bridge. 1889.
Oil on panel.
96 x 149,5 cm.
Sold for CHF 240 500

Merian Maria Sibylla.
Dissertatio de generatione et
metamorphosibus insectorum Surinamensium.
Sold for CHF 132 500

7 Maria Sibylla Merian, daughter of the topographical engraver Matthäus Merian the Elder, was enthusiastic about zoology from a young age. From 1699 to 1701 she trav­elled throughout the Dutch colony of Surinam and cap­tured its flora and fauna in a series of unique watercolours.

8 This painting by the Antwerp mannerist de Cock was recently rediscovered in a private collection. It shows Saint Anthony resisting the temptation of wine offered to him by a noble lady.

The Temptation of Saint Anthony.
Oil on panel.
27,7 x 37,2 cm.
Sold for CHF 168 500

9 Horae B.M.V.
Book of hours.
Latin manuscript on vellum.
Sold for CHF 78 500

9 Seven large miniatures in polychrome and gold with richly executed borders, seventeen splendid five-line initials as well as numerous two-line initials in polychrome and gold adorn this illuminated book of hours, which was probably made around 1480 for a Franciscan commission.

10 In the 18th century, hyper-realistic tableware such as this tureen adorned the tables of noble families. Strasbourg was one of the centres of faience production.

11 This atmospheric depiction of a nocturnal winter landscape with a “snack bar” comes from the collection of TV producer Jef Rademakers, comprised of masterpieces of Dutch and Belgian Romanticism.

12 Meissonier’s sculptural work – about 20 bronzes – was only discovered after his death. The wax original of this bronze statue of Napoleon is in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay.

Strasbourg, Paul Hannong period.
Circa 1745-1754.
Sold for CHF 32 300

Winter landscape by night with skaters and a "koek-en-zopie" 1849.
Oil on panel.
31 x 42,5 cm.
Sold for CHF 90 500

Bronze figure, "Napoléon à cheval" or "Le voyageur", circa 1900.
Bronze with dark patina.
L 59, H 48 cm.
Sold for CHF 180 500

Cloud II. 1984.
Painted wood.
84 x 115 x 6,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 50 000 / 70 000

The Centre for Artistic Estates

In Zurich, a newly founded institution is dedicated to estates in the fields of art, music and literature

Collectors, artists, musicians and writers: they will all pass on their material and immaterial works and they will all have to deal with similar questions: Who should make the artistic and commercial decisions about the inherited works? What sort of strategy will keep the artistic estate relevant and interesting for future generations? How can the financial value of an artistic estate be estimated and how can the copyright peculiarities relating to immaterial works in an estate situation be dealt with? To ensure that these and other issues surrounding estates in the fields of art, music and literature receive more attention, the attorney Dr Florian Schmidt-Gabain and the literary scholar Prof. Dr Thomas Strässle founded the Zentrum für künstlerische Nachlässe (ZKN), or Centre for Artistic Estates.

Florian Schmidt-Gabain (l.) and Thomas Strässle (r.)
founded the Centre for Artistic Estates and manage
it as President and Vice President.

“The ZKN is a scientific centre that will organise conferences, seminars and lectures”, says Florian Schmidt-Gabain, a specialist in art and inheritance law, describing the activities of the newly founded institution based in Zurich. Thomas Strässle, who is also President of the Max Frisch Foundation, adds: “By focusing on the (visual) arts as well as on music and literature, the ZKN intends to enable a multidisciplinary perspective”. Both founders of the ZKN emphasise that, through their professional activities, they’ve observed a strong need for information and knowledge in the field of artistic estates. “To meet this need, we founded the ZKN”. In addition to future testators and heirs, the ZKN also addresses other persons and institutions associated with artistic estates, such as publishers, museums, galleries, restorers, archivists and lawyers.

The official opening of the ZKN will take place on 21 November 2019 with a conference in Zurich. In the Grand Lecture Hall of the Zurich Kunsthaus, topics will include the estate of the recently rediscovered Swedish pioneer of abstract painting, Hilma af Klint (1862–1944), as well as the estate of one of the best-known Swiss collectors, Emil G. Bührle. Attendees can register for the conference at

Koller Auctions have extensive experience in the valuation and sale of collectors’ and other art estates. We therefore warmly welcome the creation of the ZKN and are pleased to support it as a sponsor.

KOLLERview is published four times a year,

the next issue will follow in June 2019.

Read as PDF

Dear Clients and Friends

We are delighted to look back on a successful auction year, in which we not only achieved excellent prices in many of the specialty areas we offered, but also a particularly impressive percentag e of works sold.

Kees van Dongen’s "Égyptienne" entered a German private collection in June for 1.75 million Swiss francs, after we presented this expressive portrait to a large audience at special previews in Geneva, Düsseldorf, Zurich and Paris. Emil Nolde’s "Doppelbild (Sie seltsames Licht)", painted in 1918, found a new home in an important Swiss collection after a bidding war that finally ended at CHF 1 million (see p. 11).

In March 2018, the bidding reached 538,000 Swiss francs for a 17th century Vanitas still life, the second highest price ever recorded at auction for a painting by Carstian Luyckx. In June, "Kiss", 1979, by John Chamberlain, realised an outstanding 530,000 Swiss francs. These results illustrate the wide range of fine items offered in our auctions, spanning many centuries. Among the thousands of works of art that passed through our hands in the last twelve months were exceptional works by Lehmbruck, Boudin, Spitzweg, Dufy, Kirchner, Dix, Marquet, Renoir, Vlaminck, Chagall, Miró, Klee, Vasarely, Tobey, Warhol, Cragg, Soulages, Gertsch, Picasso, Poliakoff, Lichtenstein and Haring, as well as a veritable “Who’s Who” of Swiss painting ranging from Anker and Zünd to Hodler, Vallotton, Dietrich, Amiet, Giacometti, Segantini and Itten, Lohse and Bill. These were joined by successful auctions of rare works of art from China, exquisite furniture by French ébénistes, collector’s silver, jewellery and rare wristwatches, Romanesque and Gothic sculptures, as well as old master prints and medieval book illumination. From 26 to 29 March 2019, to mark the start of the new auction year, we will present our next series of auctions, dedicated to works from the medieval period to the 19th century.

Auctions of Modern and Contemporary Art, Design, Art Deco and Art Nouveau, Fashion, Photography, Collector’s Watches, Jewellery and Swiss Art will follow in June. Mid-April is the deadline for consignments to these sales. Our specialists in Zurich or in one of our branch offices in Geneva, Milan, Düsseldorf or Munich are at your service should you like to inquire about consigning. Our estimates and offers with regard to our auctions are without obligation and free of charge. We will organise all shipping and customs formalities for you, as well as international marketing for the works of art entrusted to us.

We look forward to working for you and with your artworks!

Yours, Cyril Koller

1 Jan van Noordt.
The encounter of Pretiose and Don Juan
an amorous scene.
Oil on canvas. 131,5 x 172,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 100 000 / 140 000

Artistic Elector, sensitive Don Juan

Preview of the Old Master Paintings auction on 29 March 2019

Lucas Cranach the Elder and the assistants in his well-organized workshop created six different portraits of his patron Duke Frederick the Wise (1463–1525), Elector of Saxony, friend of the arts and sciences. Cranach also served the Duke by cataloguing his important collection of 19,000 relics and recording them in woodcuts. The present portrait on beech wood (ill. 2) was probably painted in 1525, the year of Duke Frederick’s death. The last time it was shown publicly was in 1974, in the Basel Kunstmuseum.

2 Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Portrait of the Saxon Elector Frederick the Great.
1525. Oil on panel. 38,7 x 25,3 cm.
Estimate: CHF 90 000 / 120 000

3 Peter Binoit.
Bouquet of flowers in a brown engobe vase.
Öl on copper. 20,5 x 15,8 cm.
Estimate: CHF 80 000 / 120 000

The still-life painter Peter Binoit (1590/91–1632), who was active in Frankfurt-on-Main and in Hanau, reminds us of the transience of our existence with small, almost-hidden signs: in his opulent bouquet (ill. 3) there are not only fresh flowers but also wilting blooms. Benoit’s masterful composition and brushstrokes, as well as the superb colours, breathe life into the bouquet painted on copper.

Jan van Noordt (1623–1681), in his large-format "Encounter of Pretiose and Don Juan" (ill. 1), does not refer to historical models, but creates a completely new motif. Contrary to the cliché of the womanizer from literary models, Don Juan has soft and vulnerable features in this often-published painting.

Cover: Attributed to Hans Weiditz the Younger.
Diceplaying vagabonds and peasant couple, circa 1525–30.
Pen and ink in black, partially with wash, on laid paper,
mounted on old laid paper. 18.1 x 22 cm.
Estimate: CHF 35 000 / 55 000

4 Arnold Böcklin.
The battle on the bridge. 1889.
Oil on panel. 96 x 149,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 250 000 / 350 000

Böcklin’s power and Rademakers’ eye

Preview of the 19th Century Paintings auction on 29 March 2019

The Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin (1827–1901) was inspired by Peter Paul Rubens for his monumental oil painting "Der Kampf auf der Brücke" (“The Battle on the Bridge”) (ill. 4). As in Rubens’s "Battle of the Amazons" (circa 1618), Böcklin situated the wild battle scene on a bridge, which allowed him to divide the picture into different zones. The struggle between a probably Germanic tribe and a supposedly Roman army fills almost the entire composition. He thus brings the viewer close to the brutal and raw events; the springing horses practically jump out of the frame. Böcklin’s portrayal can be interpreted as a rebellion of Christian morality against the alienated, oppressed masses of the Roman Empire.

5 Oswald Achenbach.
Merry company in the campagna of Naples with a view of Vesuvius
Oil on canvas. 66,5 x 95 cm.
Estimate: CHF 30 000 / 40 000

6 Carl Morgenstern.
Venice with a view of the Doge’s palace. 1863.
Oil on canvas. 54 x 89 cm.
Estimate: CHF 60 000 / 80 000

Carl Morgenstern (1811–1893), one of Carl Rottmann’s pupils and also one of the formative German “Italianists” is represented in the auction by a view of Venice with the Doge’s Palace and Santa Maria della Salute (ill. 6). On numerous journeys, Morgenstern collected impressions which he transformed into atmospherically charged representations of Italian coastal landscapes and cityscapes. The painting offered here, created in 1863, is proof of Morgenstern’s outstanding ability to transfer Mediterranean light to canvas.

Rademakers Collection

Some cornerstones of 19th century Dutch Romanticism offered in this auction come from the collection of former TV producer Jef Rademakers, which comprises more than a hundred paintings of the High Romantic period, mostly by Dutch and Belgian masters. Among the many highlights to be sold in Zurich are "Winter Landscape with koek en zopie ('cookie and hootch') by night" (ill. 7) by Andreas Schelfhout (1787–1870), and a Pronkstilleven still life painted by David Emil Joseph de Noter in 1847 (ill. 8) in Kunstkammerformat. The interest of both artists in the art of the 17th century is evident in these works.

7 Andreas Schelfhout.
Winter landscape with ‘koek en zopie’ by night. 1849.
Oil on panel. 31 x 42,5 cm.
Estimate: CHF 30 000 / 40 000

8 David Emil Joseph de Noter.
Still life. 1847.
Oil on panel. 28,5 x 38,2 cm.
Estimate: CHF 20 000 / 30 000

9 strongbox cabinet with Imperial arms.
stamped Haffner Frères, 8 passage Jouffroy Paris,
probably by C.G. Diehl or G. Grohe. Paris, circa 1860. 100 × 52 × 150 cm.
Estimate: CHF 50 000 / 70 000

Virtuoso craftsmanship, opulent decor

Preview of the Furniture, Porcelain and Silver auction on 28 March 2019

The art of lacca povera or lacquer povera (i.e. “poor person’s lacquer”), perfected in the 18th century in northern Italy and southern France, was inspired by Asian models.

10A Strasbourg trompe l’oeil snipe-form faience terrine.
Circa 1745–1754.
L 28 cm. H 22 cm.
Estimate: CHF 10 000 / 15 000

11 A rare German crucifix-form pendant clock with rock crystal
Probably by Conrad Kreizer, late 16th century.
4.5 × 3.3 × 1.7 cm.
Estimate: CHF 60 000 / 80 000

Chinese and Japanese lacquer works reached Europe in great numbers at this time, and first influenced craftsmen and clients in Venice and Genoa. Through imitation, the craftsmen soon developed their own technique: cut-out coloured engravings were glued to doors and drawers and served as decoration; only the elaborate lacquer finish in Sandarak natural resin was reminiscent of the Asian originals. The figurative and floral decor of a bureau bookcase (ill. 13) in the 28 March auction is exemplary: the people depicted within idealised landscapes have visibly given themselves over to the sweet side of life. A splendidly decorated strongbox cabinet of museum quality and in perfect condition can be attributed to the Parisian ébéniste Charles-Guillaume Diehl (1811–1885) (ill. 9). The mastery of craftsmanship manifested by Diehl and his large workshop caused a sensation at the Paris World’s Fairs of 1867 and 1878. Marquetry furniture created at that time can now be found in the world’s most important furniture collections. The magnificent cabinet that is now being offered is said to have been a gift in 1862 from the city of Paris to Emperor Napoleon III.

12 A Swiss tortoiseshell jewellery box.
Basel, 1714–1744. Maker’s mark of Hans Jakob D’Annone.
12,4x9,2x8 cm.
Estimate: CHF 6 000 / 10 000

13 A rare Italian Baroque “lacca povera” bureau bookcase.
Venice, 18th century. 139 × 58 (92) × 238 cm.
Estimate: CHF 100 000 / 150 000

14 M. S. Merian.
Dissertatio de generatione et metamorphosibus insectorum Surinamensium.
Den Haag 1726. / Histoire des Insectes de l'Europe, Amsterdam, 1730.
Estimate: CHF 60 000 / 90 000

Exotic fauna

Preview of the Books, Manuscripts & Autographs auction on 26 March 2019

and of the Drawings & Watercolours auction on 29 March 2019

The end of the 17th century was marked by an increased interest in nature. Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) grew up in an artistic family; her father, Matthäus Merian the Elder (1593–1650), was one of the most important pictorial chroniclers of his time.

15 Rudolf von Alt.
View of a bedchamber, 1859.
Watercolour over gray ink and pencil, heightened with white.
33 x 40 cm.
Estimate: CHF 7 000 / 9 000

16 Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis.
Book of hours in Latin on vellum.
probably Flanders, circa 1460.
Estimate: CHF 70 000 / 90 000

Maria Sibylla became interested in zoology at an early age. The years she devoted to the study of the flora and fauna of the Dutch colony of Surinam arose from a recommendation: the governor there encouraged Merian to take a research trip through the coastal state. The drawings and objects collected on site by Merian between 1699 and 1701 formed the basis for a series of 60 copper engravings. Published in 1726 in her magnum opus, "Dissertatio de generatione et metamorphosibus insectorum Surinamensium" (ill. 14 and p. 9), they brought the artist posthumous fame in her home country. Two unusual features of the present edition are worth mentioning: first, the volume includes Merian’s two major works, for in addition to the Surinam insects, the famous treatise "Histoire des Insectes de l’Europe" from 1730 is included. Secondly, the ex-libris has been preserved – a copperplate engraving also made by Merian, which suggests that the work was originally owned by someone from her circle.

Magnificent book of hours

A livre d’heures from Flanders, circa 1460, stands out among the selection of rare books and manuscripts in the 26 March auction (ill. 16). The book of prayers and devotions is decorated with 17 magnificent miniatures in polychrome and gold, eight smaller miniatures and 32 border illuminations. Its architectural depictions are knowledgeably executed in a virtuoso manner. This painstakingly illuminated, wide-margined work has not been on the market for almost five decades and is in remarkably good condition.

14 M. S. Merian
Dissertatio de generatione et metamorphosibus insectorum Surinamensium.
Den Haag 1726. / Histoire des Insectes de l'Europe,
Estimate: CHF 60 000 / 90 000

17 Sylvie Fleury.
Be Amazing. 2003.
Multiple. 62/100. 20 × 30 cm.
Sold for CHF 2 200


17 The Swiss artist Fleury has presented her unmistakable yet ironic invitation "Be Amazing" in various forms – here as an elegant brass plaque.

18 Giovanni Giacometti brought the colours for his view of the over 3000-metre-high Sciora Bondasca group onto the canvas in an expressive, almost three-dimensional manner, thus showing himself to be a master of colour at the height of his creativity. The virtuoso handling of light and shadow in mountain landscapes of the region between the Maloja Pass and Chiavenna shaped his life’s work. This painting comes from a Swiss private collection, acquired directly from the artist.

18 Giovanni Giacometti.
Val Bregaglia with a view of the Sciora group. 1931.
Oil on canvas. 75,5 x 80 cm.
Sold for 310 000

19 Pierre Soulages.
Untitled. 1973.
Gouache on paper on canvas. 75 x 54,5 cm.
Sold for 324 000

19 This gouache comes to life via the subtle contrast between the deep black bars and the strong blue that shines in between. Soulages used rubber squeegees to structure his picture’s surface and expose the coloured areas under the opaque black. This technique, which penetrates into the depths of the layers of paint, dynamises the composition of the picture and brings to light striking colour tones. The works created in this way are called outrenoir pictures, i.e. works beyond black.

20 Roth’s bar trolley combines Bauhaus-style forms with the preferred materials of modern industrial design of the early 1930s. The sober chrome steel construction refers directly to the furniture of Mart Stam, Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

21 Lichtenstein’s striking motifs of the sixties, inspired by contemporary comics, have become icons of post-war art.

22 Two hundred and sixty works by Otto Dix were designated by the Nazis as "degenerate art" in 1937. From then on, the artist devoted himself predominantly to landscape painting. "Winter Day in Randegg" exemplifies this period, during which Dix drew upon historical sources for his painting technique. A German museum acquired this significant painting for its collections.

20 Alfred Roth.
Bar trolley, "1952" model, design 1932 for Embru.
99 × 33 × 73 cm.
Sold for CHF 60 000

21 Roy Lichtenstein.
Crying Girl. 1963.
Colour offset print. 43,2 × 58,4 cm.
Sold for CHF 31 000

22 Otto Dix.
Wintertag in Randegg. 1933.
Mixed media on panel.
Sold for CHF 170 000

23 Emil Nolde.
Doppelbild (Sie seltsames Licht). 1918.
Oil on canvas. 60,6 × 56,2 cm.
Sold for CHF 1 Mio

23 Emil Nolde’s portraits reflect the artist’s particular interest in the human soul, and his intense research into the psychological images of those around him.

24 This Norman landscape was created at the height of Dufy’s career. Typical of this creative phase are both the loose, light-handed execution and the calm, natural motif from a rural area in the north of France.

24 Raoul Dufy.
Paysage en Normandie ou Le Poirier. 1930.
Oil on canvas. 60 x 73cm.
Sold for 115 000

25 Adolf Dietrich.
Abendstimmung am Untersee. 1926.
Oil on board. 32,7 x 42,9 cm.
Sold for 480 000

25 Dietrich employed an exaggeration of colour and motif in this landscape. Evening moods, with their intense colouring, are particularly suited to this approach and are among the artist’s most impressive works.

26 Picasso took great pleasure in painting traditionally shaped ceramics, as in this example from the Madoura pottery in Vallauris in the region of Cannes, where the artist lived in the 1950s.

27 This plate, produced in a small edition, also reveals Picasso’s talent for creating great things with minimal means.

28 Sunsets were among Vallotton’s favourite motifs. This early painting, created near Honfleur, captivates with its exquisite colours. Its reduced forms direct the observer’s gaze to the boldly set, seemingly unreal colour fields.

26 Pablo Picasso.
Hibou. 1968.
Ceramic. 59/500. H: 30 cm.
Sold for CHF 20 000

27 Pablo Picasso.
Tête en forme d'horloge. 1956.
Silver plate. Cast and edited by Pierre and François Hugo. 19/20. D 42.5 cm.
Sold for CHF 36 000

28 Félix Vallotton.
Coucher de soleil jaune et vert. 1911.
Oil on canvas. 54 × 81 cm.
Sold for CHF 880 000

29 Pierre Soulages.
Eau-forte XX. 1972.
Coloured aquatint. 43/100. 50 × 66 cm.
Sold for CHF 23 000

29 Soulages' reduced form is one of several motifs from an aquatint series created in the first half of the 1970s. Here the influence of calligraphic characters from the Far East becomes particularly clear, but unlike in his outrenoir pictures, the contrast to black plays only a minor role.

30 With this small-format colour offset print, Richter quotes his own oil painting "Turned Sheet" from 1965. At the same time, he refers to the enchanting play between illusion and reality in the painting of earlier periods, by presenting the viewer with a depiction of something that does not actually exist.

30 Gerhard Richter.
Blattecke. 1967.
Colour offset print. 593/739. 24 × 18 cm.
Sold for 5 000

31 Edouard Marcel Sandoz.
Groupe de chèvres. 1937.
Bronze. H: 42 cm.
Sold for 54 000

34 Tiffany Studios New York.
Twelve-light “Lily” standing lamp. Circa 1910.
Bronze and Favrile-Glas. H: 141 cm.
Sold for CHF 36 000

31 Born in Basel and active in Paris from 1910 onward, Sandoz is remembered particularly as an animal sculptor; his oeuvre comprised more than 1,800 sculptures and 200 porcelain models. These two bronze-cast goats are exemplary of the artist's realistic depictions, with borrowings from Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

32 This exclusive timepiece was made by Patek Philippe in an edition of only 400, on the occasion of its 175th anniversary. This men’s watch is equipped with an ultra-fine automatic flyback chronograph movement; its new caliber CH 28-520 is an example of the combination of tradition and innovation.

33 The American Marcia Hafif calls her unmistakable style with abstract geometric compositions and monochrome colour surfaces "Pop Minimal". This work was created during her years in Italy, and was acquired by a Swiss museum for its permanent collection.

34 The Twelve-light “Lily” is an example of the decorative floral Art Nouveau style of New York’s celebrated Tiffany Studios.

32 Patek Philippe.
Anniversary chronograph. 2015.
2015. 18K yellow gold. Ref. 5975 J
Sold for CHF 60 000

33 Marcia Hafif.
Brown-yellow. 1963.
Acrylic on canvas. 140 x 140 cm.
Sold for CHF 19 000

35 Pablo Picasso.
Tête de Marie-Thérèse. Nineteenth state. 1933/1961.
Drypoint etching. 18/50. 31,8 × 23 cm.
Sold for CHF 26 000

35 Picasso’s mastery of the drypoint etching technique is demonstrated by many individual sheets and series of etchings. The genesis of the artist’s motifs can only be understood when one observes his prints in their various states. Through the continuous reworking of the copper plates, motifs are created step by step.

36 Theodore Lux Feininger, the youngest son of painter Lyonel Feininger, documented here one of the famous theatrical performances at the Bauhaus in Dessau. The costumes and stage design depicted come from the sketch "Olga-Olga", performed in 1928.

36 Theodore Lux Feininger.
Bauhaus performance at Dessau. 1928.
SVintage gelatin silver print. 29,8 × 23,7 cm
Sold for 13 000

37 Hermann Scherer.
Mendrisiotto. Circa 1925/1926.
Oil on canvas. 112 x 120 cm.
Sold for 200 000

38 Hermès Paris made in France.
Taurillon Clemence leather, from the hides of young bulls, makes this bag robust. Its strong orange colour is particularly striking.
2013. 35 cm.
Sold for CHF 16 000

37 The influence of German expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner on Basel artist Hermann Scherer can easily be seen in this picture. Both worked together in Frauenkirch near Davos and remained friends until Scherer’s early death. This painting was made in the Mendrisiotto region of Ticino.

38 Palladium metal applications. With key, lock, dust bag and rain cover. In original box.

39 These two ear clips, set with fine white natural pearls, are designed in the style of Art Nouveau jewellery from the period around 1910. Each of the pendants is set with four small old mine-cut diamonds and ten octagonal diamonds, the total weight of which is 2.20 ct.

40 Gottardo Segantini’s colour palette and brushstrokes are closely based on the works of his father Giovanni. Both devoted themselves to the colour experiments of Divisionism. In addition, both artists were united by their deeply felt attachment to their homeland, the Engadine, represented in this picture by two of the local Upper Engadine mountains.

39 Natural pearl and diamond ear pendants.
White gold 750 and platinum 950, 25 g.
Sold for CHF 180 000

40 Gottardo Segantini.
Sera d’Inverno.
Oil on canvas. 105 x 152 cm.
Sold for CHF 140 000

Félix Vallotton
La Symphonie. 1897.
Woodcut print. Artist's proof. 32 × 43 cm.
Sold for CHF 8 500

A World in Black and White

Felix Vallotton as Printmaker

“The briefest expression of the greatest content,” is how the esteemed German art critic Julius Meier-Graefe characterized Felix Vallotton’s hand as a graphic artist. Born in Lausanne in 1865, and relocating to Paris when he was seventeen, Vallotton created a sensation with his woodcuts at an early age. It is not a coincidence that his graphic oeuvre was the subject of the first monograph about the artist. His intensive period of print work was relatively brief: between 1891 and 1898 he produced around 200 woodcuts as well as a relatively small number of etchings, lithographs and zincographs, with portraits, landscapes, street scenes and interiors serving as his main focus. Vallotton also created a large number of book and magazine illustrations and caricatures. His later, sporadic graphic works did not achieve the level of this early and enormously intense creative phase.

Félix Vallotton.
Les Petites Baigneuses. 1893. Portfolio mit 10 Holzschnitten.
Vollständig. Je 12,5 × 16,5 cm.
Sold for CHF 168 000

Félix Vallotton.
Les Petites Baigneuses. 1893. Portfolio with 10 woodcut prints.
Complete. 12,5 × 16,5 cm.
Sold for CHF 168 000

Vallotton’s artistic mastery is evident in radically selected image details, virtuoso silhouettes and the overall ornamental effect of his works. He transformed his subjects into flat surfaces, developing his own world of images that were not intended to be representational. Accordingly, the ten-part series on paper "Intimités" was created in the years 1897/98 and is regarded as the "crowning achievement of his woodcut works" (Rudolf Koella). Similarly masterful are his earlier woodcut series of "Musical Instruments" (1896/97), and also "Les Petites Baigneuses" (1893), recently sold at Koller. During this early period, his unique Vallotton-esque manner culminated in a virtuoso approach to the play of black and white. The bathers exude an air of lightness and ease – completely in contrast to the interiors of the “Intimités”, in which the ten scenes are animated by couples who appear tense, as if they were in a spotlight. Vallotton used backgrounds and surfaces in an almost casual manner for his play of ornaments. "These woodcuts are basically nothing more than a satirical moral mirror of the time, maliciously showing what could happen in the intimacy of bourgeois salons" (Rudolf Koella). Vallotton attained international success with these works, receiving invitations to multiple exhibitions.

Vallotton graduated from the private Académie Julian in Paris, where he met Maurice Denis, Pierre Bonnard and others, and with whom he united to form the group Les Nabis in 1889. Vallotton recognized the importance his woodcuts would hold in his oeuvre, as he wrote to his brother in 1892: "Mes bois font paraît-il leur petit chemin dans le monde, et me font beaucoup connaître”. The prints created in Paris were indeed widely disseminated and made a lasting impression on his colleagues, including the Die Brücke artists Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, as well as Wassily Kandinsky, who initiated an exhibition of works by Vallotton in Munich’s Phalanx in 1904. The significance of the woodcuts lies not only in their influence on other artists, but also in how effectively the Vallotton-esque pictorial formulas mirror the period: "When a style is as immensely strong as the style of these woodcut vignettes, it comprises more than book illustration. It comprises the entire taste of a time – of a future" (Wilhelm Hausenstein).

Incidentally, the artist did not limit himself as Meier-Graefe had advised: "Vallotton has made so much of the woodcut that he that he could safely dispense with the ambition to also count as a painter". On the contrary, Vallotton’s ambition did not slow, and he succeeded as a painter until his death in 1925.

"Les Petites Baigneuses” sold for CHF 168 000 on 8 December 2018, a world record at auction for a graphic series by Vallotton.

Félix Vallotton.
Les Petites Baigneuses. 1893. Portfolio with 10 woodcut prints.
Complete. Je 12,5 × 16,5 cm.
Sold for CHF 168 000

Andy Warhol.
Mickey Mouse. 1981.
Colour screen print with diamond dust. 63/200. 96,5 x 96,5 cm.
Sold for CHF 168 000

The Triumph of Mickey Mouse

Andy Warhol’s “Myths”: Modern American Icons

With the ten-part screen print series “Myths”, 1981, Andy Warhol demonstrated a profound understanding of the society in which he grew up. The 20th century “deities” that he chose had all become icons, representing a consumer society whose sources of inspiration were the media and the Hollywood dream factory, running at full speed.

Robert J. Levin.
Andy Warhol with Myths, New York, 1981.
© Robert J. Levin.

From early on, Warhol detected the most powerful motifs of his time – images that capture the modern imagination, as did the gods and goddesses of ancient times. His selection for “Myths” comprises not only ideal characters, but a representative sample of the shady, the bold, the sly, the humorous and the good, as seen through the lens of cinema and television: Mata Hari, Dracula, Superman and Santa Claus, as well as prototypically American icons such as Howdy Doody, Mammy, Uncle Sam, the Wicked Witch of the West – and of course Mickey Mouse. Most of the examples date from the 1940s and 50s, the years of Warhol’s youth. His insertion of a self-portrait (“The Shadow”) in this prominent series speaks volumes about his self-awareness at this high point of his career.

Mickey Mouse, created by Walt Disney and his early collaborator, Ub Iwerks, is by far the most recognizable cartoon character in the world. Mickey made his debut in the silent short “Plane Crazy”, on 15 May 1928, and in November of the same year the cartoon mouse, this time with sound, was featured in “Steamboat Willie”. Two years later, the first comic book featuring Mickey Mouse was published, beginning an unparalleled triumphal march to fame. Even today, after 90 years, the Mickey Mouse brand is still going strong. No wonder, then, that in 1980 it aroused Andy Warhol’s interest.

Cinematic effect

Warhol had a sure instinct for the objects of everyday culture. Like a sensitive seismograph, he also incorporated contemporary events, stars and starlets in his art. He subjected this “raw material” of an entire era to an artistic metamorphosis and in this way created new icons – now they were his icons. The screen print process proved to be the best technical means for him to produce many repetitive images quickly and effectively. When one thinks of Marilyn Monroe today, Warhol’s portrait series of 1967 inevitably comes to mind. The brand names “Campbell’s” and “Brillo” evoke soup cans and stacks of boxes in the Warhol manner.

The artist eliminated the technical uniformity of the compositions by overlapping and blurring the original models, creating a cinematic effect on the static images. “But on closer inspection, this‘ sensation of time’ is just as illusory as in his early films”, wrote Ernst Beyeler. “It’s always the same shot, and the same silkscreen.” As an adult, Warhol said that he wanted to be a cultural icon like Mickey Mouse. Surprisingly then, this is the first time that Mickey Mouse appears in Warhol’s work. Perhaps this is why he decided to give the print a glamorous diamond-dust finish.

Worl auction record

Today the “Myths” portfolio is one of the most sought-after series of works by Andy Warhol. The ten prints were first exhibited in 1981 at the Ronald Feldman Gallery in Manhattan, where the renowned American photographer Robert Levin documented the opening for the German magazine Stern.

The Mickey Mouse illustrated here achieved a new auction record when it sold in our 8 December 2018 auction for CHF 168 500.

Lina Augustin.
No key, no pressure. 2017/2018.
Acrylic and oil on paper
83 × 62 cm.


Exhibition of young German art from the Munich Academy of Fine Arts

This spring Koller Auctions will introduce "KOLLERNOW", a new exhibition series at our Munich branch that will promote young artists with a link to the Bavarian capital.

Marc Avrel. Blinky da Vinci.
Die Waffe meines Ernstes nach K. Klapheck. 2018.
Mixed media.
80 × 50 × 52 cm.

Ralf Dereich.
Sculp019. 2014.
Gesso, pigment and acrylic.
37 × 36 × 36 cm.

In an art market dominated by global players, young galleries and organisations dedicated to arts development often have a difficult time. For young practising artists, taking those first steps towards recognition and a foothold in the art market has become increasingly complex. New York gallery owner David Zwirner has also recognised how crucial it is for artists to have the opportunity to exhibit at the beginning of their careers: he suggested removing the financial burden for young galleries at art fairs, in order to enable them to experiment artistically.

With "KOLLERNOW" Koller Auctions will offer graduates and current students of the Munich Academy of Fine Arts the opportunity to show new works. For each exhibition, the curator Dina Renninger will invite three to five artists from the classes of Professors Markus Oehlen, Karin Kneffel and Nicole Wermers to participate.

The first exhibition, on view from 14 March to 12 April, includes works by Marc Avrel, Ralf Dereich, Daniel Man and Lina Augustin – graduates and students of Professor Markus Oehlen. With a height­ened encounter between the most diverse concepts of paint­ing, sculpture and drawing, these four young artists will engage in a temporary dialogue.

Marc Avrel’s (*1981) understanding of crossover decisively influences his life and his artworks. Highly rad­ical and passionate, he challenges, comments and reflects on current political, social, digital and artistic developments, blurring the boundaries of artistic disciplines.

Ralf Dereich’s (*1976) works are the product of a spontaneous and subtle process. Intrinsically artistic, and restricting himself to painting and sculpture, the artist has developed a pictorial language that is both universal and unique. His works open up new pictorial spaces and, through their complexity and impulsivity, keep the viewer in a constant state of flux.

Daniel Man (*1969) comes from the graffiti scene, and his works still bear the hallmark of street art. Man’s intensely coloured and pulsating works are now favourably received not only in urban settings, but also in the museum world.

Lina Augustin’s (*1986) works persuasively combine intense images with a simple and thereby vivid language. Poetic visual worlds, working in harmony with Augustin’s texts, invite viewers to construct a story of their own imagining.

Daniel Man.
Total mission. 2017.
Mixed media on canvas.
130 × 190 cm.

Portrait of the Saxon Elector
Frederick the Wise. 1525.
Oil on beech wood panel. 38,7 x 25,3 cm.
Sold for CHF 264 000


Old Master & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings and Prints
Fine Furniture & Decorative Arts – Jewellery – Books, Manuscripts & Autographs

Auctions in Zurich: 26 – 29 March 2019


The Old Masters and 19th Century Paintings auctions at Koller Zurich on 29 March enjoyed a very successful sales rate, with over 100% sold by value. A portrait by Lucas Cranach and his workshop of Cranach’s patron, Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, nearly tripled its pre-sale estimate to sell for CHF 264,000. Arnold Böcklin’s powerfully dynamic “Battle on the Bridge” changed hands for CHF 240,000.

The Temptation of Saint Anthony
Oil on panel. 27,7 x 37,2 cm.
Sold for CHF 168 000

Venice with a view of the Doge’s palace
and Santa Maria della Salute. 1863.
Oil on canvas. 54 x 89 cm.
Sold for CHF 72 000

Further Old Master works included a rediscovered work by Jan Wellens de Cock that fetched CHF 168,000, and a work by Gerrit Dou that realised CHF 156,000. Among the 19th century paintings, a shimmering Venice landscape by Carl Morgenstern sold for CHF 72,000, and a humorous depiction of a butterfly-chasing botanist by Carl Spitzweg fetched CHF 114,000.

The collection of Dutch filmmaker Jef Rademakers achieved very good results, such as the CHF 90,000 realised for Andreas Schelfhout’s nocturnal skating scene.

Other categories during the auction week achieved similar stellar sell-through rates, and strong prices were realized in each auction. The Books & Manuscripts auction on 26 March featured a magnificently illustrated work on the flora and fauna of Surinam by Sybille Merian, which nearly doubled its pre-sale estimate at CHF 132,000, and a lavishly illustrated botanical treatise by Johann Simon Kerner sold for six times its estimate at CHF 72,000.

Ice skaters with “Koek-en-zopie” by night. 1849.
Oil on panel. 31 x 42,5 cm.
Sold for CHF 90 000



The Battle on the Bridge. 1889.
Oil on panel.
96 x 149,5 cm.
Sold for CHF 240 000

The Herring Seller with a Young Woman.
Oil on panel.
46 x 36,2 cm.
Sold for CHF 156 000

Dissertatio de generatione et metamorphosibus
insectorum Surinamensium.
The Hague, 1726.
Sold for CHF 132 000


The butterfly catcher (Botanist). Circa 1836/37.
Oil on canvas.
29,8 x 24,5 cm.
Sold for CHF 114 000

Vagabonds playing dice and a peasant couple.
Circa 1525-30. Pen and black ink, partially with wash, on laid paper.
Sold for CHF 120 000

Bronze figure, “Napoléon à cheval”
or “Le voyageur”, circa 1900.
L 59 cm, H 48 cm.
Sold for CHF 180 000



Koller is the leading Swiss auction house, with offices in Munich, Dusseldorf, Genoa and Beijing. Each year Koller holds over eighty auctions, covering all of the major collecting categories in the fine and decorative arts, jewelry, wristwatches, Asian art and wine. Koller regularly sets record prices and benefits from a large base of international bidders. With its team of highly experienced specialists, the family-owned auction house combines the distinct advantages of an internationally active auction house with Swiss reliability and efficiency.