Lot 07
Johannes Spilberg JUDITH AND THE HEAD OF HOLOFERNES

192 x 152 cm (h x w)

Starting price
7 000 000 CZK
   |   259 259 €
Price realized
9 400 000 CZK
   |   348 148 €
price without premium

This large canvas is a truly rare collector's piece on the Czech antique art market. This work, depicting the Old Testament subject of Judith with the severed head of Holofernes, the commander of the Nebuchadnezzar armies, has an interesting certified provenance. King Charles II of England received the painting as a gift from an Amsterdam general and it remained in the Royal Collection up until 1894, when Queen Victoria gave the painting to her granddaughter, Princess Alix of Hesse, as a wedding gift upon her marriage to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Tsar Nicholas later gave the painting to Prince Daniel Semyonovich Argutinsky for his faithful service. The prince, who was an art collector, bequeathed the painting to his daughter, Yelena Danilovna Pavlovich (née Argutinskaya). Yelena Danilovna's family brought the painting to Vladivostok, and from there her daughter brought it to Prague in 1925. According to historical accounts, the family also brought other highly valuable paintings with them when they emigrated to Prague. Archival research and a comparative analysis of Johannes Spilberg's brushwork prove the painting was by the German Baroque painter. Spilberg hailed from Düsseldorf. He began studying painting under his father, who sent him to Rubens in Antwerp in 1640. But Rubens died that same year, so the young Spilberg moved on to Amsterdam. Here he spent seven years studying under Rembrandt's only direct student, Govaert Flinck; hence Spilberg is considered a "second generation" student of Rembrandt. After completing his studies, he returned to Düsseldorf, where he worked as a family portrait painter in the court of Philip William, Elector Palatine. Spilberg created his masterpieces likely while still residing in Amsterdam. His large canvases are artistically more interesting, depicting mythological scenes with opulent figural compositions in which he used bold color and focused on details. Today Spilberg's works are represented in leading galleries around the world. This painting is accompanied by expert assessments by Professor Lubomír Konečný and Dr. Martin Zlatohlávek, an X-ray analysis conducted by B. Štverák, CSc., and a court-certified expert assessment of the provenance of the painting. Oil on canvas.