This Monday, Sotheby’s and streetwear website Highsnobiety are launching a limited-edition collection of apparel inspired by Old Masters paintings. It’s the first partnership between the auction house and the German-based company, and will feature t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies printed with Italian, Dutch, and Flemish works included in Sotheby’s upcoming Masters Week 2020 auctions. The pairing of cutting-edge contemporary fashion with a collecting category that is likely losing steam among a younger market may seem surprising, but Sotheby’s promises the pieces will “highlight the enduring graphic quality of [Old Masters] paintings,” according to a press release.
Among the masterworks you could now wear proudly everywhere you go is “A Sea-Nymph” by the Italian baroque artist Ginevra Cantofoli’s, whose specialty was painting female figures. Known as one of her masterpieces, the work probably depicts Galatea, one of the 50 Nereides in Greek mythology, memorable for turning her mortal lover Acis into a river after he was killed by a cyclops in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In Cantofoli’s rendering, she dons an impressive crown of mollusk shells and holds a coral close to her body, accessories which are arguably less practical than Sotheby’s and Highsnobiety’s highly wearable t-shirt.
A cozy-looking black hoodie features “Imaginary Landscape with Allegories of Abundance and Charity” (circa 1600) from the Prague School, estimated to sell anywhere between $60,000 and $80,000 in Sotheby’s forthcoming Master Paintings & Sculpture Day Sale. In this stylized scene of luxury and opulence, a central figure surrounded by plump putti, fruit, and friendly animals embodies both abundance and charity. Is it just me, though, or does her eye-roll scream, “I can’t believe I paid €125 for this hoodie?”