Love letter to Amalfi coast leads Sotheby’s sale

The lead painting in Sotheby’s sale of 19th Century European Paintings later this month will be Danish artist Peder Severin Krøyer’s love letter to the Amalfi coast, entitled Oleanders in  Bloom, Capri.

Painted in 1896, the painting captures the architecture, flora and radiant light of the Italian coast.

The painting is appearing on the international market for the first time, and has an estimate of £400,000 to £600,000.

Krøyer, Oleanders in Bloom, Capri

Set against an ultramarine sky, the crimson exuberance of a mature oleander tree dominates the painting in a firework-like burst of flowers.

On either side, the wall of a building and the niche of a well to the left act as repoussoirs framing the scene, leading the eye into a veritable ‘symphony in white’. Below this the contrasting vermillion flowers of a pot of martagon lilies connect the oleander to the lower half, and to the row of pot plants along the ledge.

The apparent simplicity of the scene is animated by countless closely observed details, from the copper bucket and its sinuously flowing rope lying next to the wet ground, to the delicately fallen petals strewn along the path, and even the sleeping cat – the very embodiment of southern dolce far niente.

Dating from three years after Summer Evening on Skagen’s South Beach, the artist’s ‘blue period’ masterpiece, Oleanders in Bloom, Capri represents a culmination of Krøyer’s Impressionistic ambitions in free use of colour and assured brushwork. While Krøyer’s oeuvre is defined in the public imagination by his views of Skagen on the north coast of Jutland, the luminosity of his art would be unthinkable without his experience of the light of the south. The work can even be seen as a development of the white draperies and deep blue skies of the Skagen works, transposed to Italy.

Nina Wedell-Wedellsborg, Head of Sotheby’s Denmark, said, “We are delighted to be offering this impressionistic masterpiece by Krøyer to the international market. While Krøyer’s fame at home in Denmark goes without saying, his aesthetic – with its obvious parallels with John Singer Sargent and the French Impressionists – far transcends his local market, as we saw recently when we sold Wine Harvest in the Tyrol to an American collector in 2016. Timeless luminous views like Oleanders in Bloom, Capri will appeal to collectors around the world.”

Claude Piening, Head of the 19th Century European Paintings Department, London, commented, “We are delighted to be offering Krøyer’s seminal 1896 painting as the cover lot of our 19th Century European Paintings sale in London on May 24, one year on from our success selling Vilhelm Hammershøi’s White Doors to Ordrupgaard. The polar opposite of Hammershøi’s cool, calm interiors, Krøyer’s hot, sun-filled impression of Capri in bloom will make have no less of an impact.”


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