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COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART BUYS LASTMAN PAINTING

Times Staff Writer

The County Museum of Art has added a major painting to its collection in honor of its former director, the late Kenneth Donahue. Bidding through a New York dealer, the museum bought Pieter Lastman’s “Hagar and the Angel” on Thursday at Sotheby’s New York auction house.

The museum paid $253,000 for the 1623 work at a sale of important Old Master paintings. The painting set an auction record for Lastman and sailed past its pre-auction estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.

Donahue discovered “Hagar and the Angel” 10 years ago in the collection of Bernard Solomon of Beverly Hills, who loaned it to the institution from 1976 to this year. When Solomon decided to sell the 17th-Century work, the museum determined to buy it as an homage to Donahue and as a companion piece to Rembrandt’s painting, “The Raising of Lazarus,” already in its collection.

Lastman (1583-1633) was a Dutch historical painter who taught Rembrandt in Amsterdam for about six months in 1623. “Hagar and the Angel,” an oil-on-panel work measuring about 20 inches by 26 inches, is typical of Lastman’s work inspired by biblical sources. Considered one of Amsterdam’s major artists in the 17th Century, he is also known for painting dramatic crowd scenes, populated by animated, realistic people.

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