A mustachioed man and scantily clad woman singing by candlelight will be among the stars of Christie’s Old Master Paintings sale in New York on June 5. They are depicted in “The Duet,” a 1624 painting by the Dutch master Gerrit van Honthorst that is expected to fetch $2 million to $3 million.
Painted in 1624 at the height of Honthorst’s career, this masterpiece has been seized by the Nazis from the home of the collector Bruno Spiro during World War II, and was on display at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for more than 40 years, before being returned to Spiro’s heirs just last month.
According to release The Duet is “a significant work with an exceptionally distinguished Russian provenance, which includes the collection of Count Alexander Stroganov, art advisor to Catherine the Great, as well as the Hermitage Museum”.
“This is a painting which has everything: it is a beautiful composition; it is by a major artist at the peak of his career; it is in pristine condition; and coming from the collections of Count Alexander Stroganov and then the Hermitage it has a superb provenance. Added to all this is the satisfaction that Christie’s is bringing to the marketplace a work which has, after a period of seventy five years, been returned at last to its rightful owners,” said Nicholas Hall, Christie’s co-chairman of Old Masters and 19th century art.
Two major fresh-to-the-market works by Pieter Brueghel II will also be offered in the sale, as well as exceptional works by Jacques-Louis David among more than 100 works by great French, Italian, Flemish, Dutch and British masters of the 15th through the 19th centuries.