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5.3 The Second Pott Auction 1763

As already mentioned, there was also a second Pott auction, one that took place a year later, in 1763. Presumably, despite his financial problems, Pott had managed to hang on to the works in his collection to which he was most attached. However, the bankruptcy of 1763 put an end to this tactic, necessitating him to let his favorite art works to be auctioned. They included several Dutch works, which we shall see fetched high prices. On 24 November 1763 they were sold in his residence at 33 Hundegasse (Ogarna), a different address from that for the auction of 1762. Pott must therefore have moved there sometime after 12 May 1762, or else it must have been a second dwelling in his possession. Von Holst, who mentioned the address, named nine paintings that were included in the auction, again including, as with the earlier auction, some prices and names of buyers.1 They were:

  • Cornelis Ketel (c. 1584), The Penitant Peter and David Humbling Himself (Petrus buβfertig und David sich demütigend)
  • Rembrandt, The Bloody Robe of Joseph is Brought to Jacob (der blutige Rock Josephs wird Jacob gebracht)
  • L.[aurent] de la Hire, Hilly Landscape with Goats (Hügellandschaft mit Ziegen)
  • Abr.[aham] Mignon, Flower Piece (Blumenstück)
  • ‘Holbein’, 4 panels (Moses, Aaron, David, Nathan)

As with the earlier auction of 1762, there is not enough information to allow these works to be identified. Thus the four paintings of the prophet Moses, his brother, the high priest Aaron, King David and the prophet Nathan are attributed to Holbein. This could refer to no fewer than four members of the Augsburg Holbein family, namely Sigismund Holbein (c. 1465/1470-1540), his brother Hans Holbein I (1460/1465-1524), or the latter’s sons Ambrosius (1493/1494-after 1519) and Hans Holbein II (1497/1498-1543). However, paintings with these subjects do not occur in the collective oeuvre of these artists. This is presumably an attribution that must be interpreted in the light of an ever-increasing 18th-century interest in ‘Altdeutsche’ paintings which, as Von Holst observed, caused great numbers of works to be attributed to masters such as Cranach and Dürer.2 In the case of the hilly landscape with goats by Laurent de la Hire (1605/1606-1656/1657), it is not just the lack of dimensions but also the vague indication of the subject matter that presents a problem. Several landscapes by De la Hire are known, but these generally function as settings for some biblical or mythological subject. One work that depicts a hilly landscape and features a flute-playing shepherd as well as few goats is a painting in Musée Fabre in Montpellier.3 However, an identification of this work as the one in the Pott collection is purely hypothetical.



[1]

Van Holst presumably did not include all works but only the most important, which is also true for the first Pott auction of 1762. That Von Holst names works of art from various auctions and travel descriptions organized by name of artist, gives reason to believe that he only mentioned those paintings for which the maker was known or that were given to an artist in the catalogue.

[2]

Von Holst 1934, p. 65.

[3]

Oil on canvas, 59 x 78 cm, signed and dated 1647, inv. no. 837.1.50. See Tokyo 2005, p. 30, no. 3 (Japanese text), p. 156, no. 3 (French text).

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