Old Master Drawing Discovered in A Wimbledon Home Sells For £19,000Posted On: 31 Jan 2024 by Felix Turner
A red chalk drawing attributed to the Italian Baroque Master 'Guercino da Cento', also known as Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (1591-1666) has sold at Wimbledon Auctions for £19,000 against a pre-sale estimate of £3,000-5,000.
During a routine valuation at a home in Wimbledon in early January, auctioneer Felix Turner discovered a red chalk drawing depicting a man's side profile. The owner revealed that the drawing had been purchased over fifty years ago from an antiques shop in West London, and had hung on the wall ever since. With the vendors permission, Felix took the drawing in for further examination. Upon removing the drawing from the frame, the reverse was inscribed at the bottom of the page in pencil with the name 'Guercino Da Cento'. The inscription was not a signature by the artist but rather an attribution probably written by a previous owner. Guercino da Cento, also known as 'Giovanni Francesco Barbieri' was an Italian Baroque painter and draftsman from Cento in the Emilia region who was active in Rome and Bologna.
Guercino's drawings, often in ink and pencil or red chalk were noted for their luminosity and lively style. This was certainly true for the aforementioned red chalk drawing of the man's side profile with pensive expression, furrowed brow, flowing head of hair and burly shoulders. Adding further interest, by holding a strong light to the back of the drawing Felix was able to discern a strong octagonal or decagonal watermark on the paper under the centre of the man's face. The watermark bared similarities to another watermark found on a pencil and brown ink on paper 'view of a walled town by Guercino circa 1625-1630.
Although it was not possible to say with certainty that the drawing was by Guercino, it was entered in Wimbledon Auctions 'New Year Sale' as 'attributed to Guercino or the circle of' with a guiding estimate of £3,000-5,000. On the day of the auction, the drawing received interest from both UK and International bidders, with the hammer falling at £19,000 to a buyer from www.drouot.com.
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