By: John Dorfman
Although relatively little known to art buyers in the English-speaking countries, German and Austrian auction houses are excellent hunting grounds for unusual finds at sometimes bargain prices. This month and next, a large number of sales in a wide variety of categories will be held.
Starting off the fall season, the storied Dorotheum in Vienna will hold three auctions in early October. Old Master works will be offered on the 6th, including a floral still life by Georg Flegel (est. €200,000–300,000). A sale of 19th-century art follows on Oct. 7, led by Children Decorating the Hat of a Conscript (est. €300,000–400,000), by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, a major figure in the Biedermeier school of painting. Biedermeier also stars in the antiques sale on Oct. 7–8, in which a pair of gilt candelabra by Josef Danhauser (circa 1805–10) are estimated at €30,000–40,000.
Munich’s Ketterer Kunst offers modern art on Oct. 23. Among the works are Pablo Picasso’s 1957 Aztec Vase (est. €14,000–18,000) and a standing female nude (circa 1928) by Otto Mueller (est. €8,000–10,000). On the 24th there are sessions for Old Masters as well as postwar and contemporary works.
Villa Grisebach Auctions in Berlin will offer “Selected Works” on Nov. 27, followed by 19th- through 21st-century art on the 28th. Highlights include a Josef Albers Homage to the Square (1958–60, est. €120,000–150,000); a untitled oil and watercolor on paper by Gerhard Richter (1997, est. €25,000–30,000); and Karl Hofer’s Card Players (1936, est. €100–150,000), of which a smaller version from the same year has been in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art since 1937.
Also in Berlin, Galerie Bassenge has 15th–19th-century painting, prints and drawings on Nov. 26–27 and 20th-century works on Nov. 28. In the former category there will be one particularly interesting painting, an anonymous 19th-century portrait of an African woman set against a naturalistic forest backdrop (est. €15,000), which expert David Bassenge says is probably connected with the famous Alexander von Humboldt expedition to Latin America. In the modern category, the house is offering a Kurt Schwitters collage made from strips of newspaper and old tickets, dated 1920, as well as an early watercolor by Emil Nolde of a steamship, each estimated at €60,000.