Auktion at Charlottenborg Palace (1899)

Wentorf, Carl Christian Ferdinand (1863 - 1914)

Auktion at Charlottenborg Palace

Original: Hope Gallery Collection
Oil on Canvas: 32" x 46"
Catalog# WENC-001

Settled in a large hall in the Charlottenborg Palace in Denmark, art collectors and connoisseurs gather to bid for their favored piece. Men and women crowd together as the auctioneer accepts bids on a painting held and displayed by a man employed with the event. There are more than 65 figures in the composition with over 43 full and partial portraits. Only seven women, dressed in their outdoor best with elaborate hats, are both accompanied and unaccompanied by men donning bowler and top hats, gloves, walking canes, overcoats, and tailored facial hair. Two bearded men sit at the table running horizontally along the front of the piece. The man on the left is a cashier while the other to his right is the auctioneer (holding a small, gold gavel in his left hand) directing the bidding. A man, placed in the middle of the crowd, wearing a brown bowler hat holds up his walking can making a bid. However, the auctioneer is looking to the left at a man in the front row, also in a brown bowler hat, making a bid with his umbrella. The gavel is raised as the auctioneer is about to accept his bid. The crowd is a mix of figures examining the catalogs of the registered items for bid, and others who are engaged in the auction of the painting on display. Two men standing off to the right side (one holding a painting, the other looking over papers) are completing the transaction of a previously auctioned piece.

The architecture is classical and simple with barrel vaulted ceilings, four Corinthian columns, two pilasters, and a notched key cornice continually running along the top of the walls. The light source comes from a skylight (similar to the one seen in the background) above the group.

As an obviously skilled portraitist, Wentorf has accomplished an impressive feat by his pain-staking attention to detail, his ability to instill a natural light into the composition, and by his well balanced palette.

Home of the Royal Academy of Art, the Charlottenborg Palace also held the most prestigious art exhibitions in Denmark for the last few centuries. Favored artists were honored with a yearly auction exclusive to their works.