SOTHEBY'S EVENING SALES OF IMPRESSIONIST, MODERN & SURREALIST ART: SALES SUCCESS
Last night, Sotheby’s Evening Sales of Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist Art brought a total of £87.7 million / $115.3 million (est. £62.1 – 89.3 million)! 82% of the lots offered found a buyer, 46% of the works offered had never previously appeared at auction and 10,000 people visited the pre-sale exhibition in New Bond Street. The Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale follows today, with a pre-sale estimate of estimate of £18.3 – 26.7 million.
Helena Newman, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Impressionist & Modern Art, said:
“It was great to see these first indicative sales of the season hit the ground running with such a promising and lively start. The combination of activity from across Asia and from the rest of the world made for exceptionally deep and determined bidding. The two top lots – Monet’s shimmering view of Venice and Schiele’s radical modernist canvas – both possessed the holy grail of qualities that never cease to excite collectors, and we were thrilled to be able to bring to the market a variety of rarely seen works that attracted not just strong bids but also throngs of visitors to our galleries.”
Top Lot: Claude Monet
The sale was led by Claude Monet’s Le Palais Ducal (1908) which made its auction debut tonight, realising £27.5 million / $36.2 million – a new record for a Venetian view by the artist. Selling to an anonymous client, the painting was hotly underbid by two further bidders, , one of whom was represented on the phone by Sotheby’s Managing Director of Japan. The exceptionally pristine work had previously been in the same family collection since it was acquired in 1926 by Erich Goeritz. A rarity on the market, almost half of Monet’s canvases from the magical city are held in museum collections.
German and Austrian Art
Following the strength of results for German and Austrian art at Sotheby’s New York last November, tonight’s auction saw a continued demand for rare and important pieces from the region, with six works together bringing £25.5 million / $33.5 million.
The group was led by Egon Schiele’s unique Triestiner Fischerboot (1912), a square-format work painted in the aftermath of turbulent events, which sailed to £10.7 million / $14 million, garnering bids from Asia and elsewhere. This was the painting’s first time at auction, having remained in the same collection for over 50 years. Also by the artist, Auf dem Bauch liegendes Mädchen, a major work on paper, was pursued by six bidders from Europe and Asia, selling for £1.6 million / $2.1 million and tripling its pre-sale estimate.
An exuberant early work by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Mädchen auf dem Diwan (1906) made its auction debut at £3.8 million / $5.1 million, to benefit the Museum of Modern Art, New York’s acquisition fund.
Bauhaus at 100
Celebrating the centenary of arguably the most influential art and design school in history, the Evening Sale offered works by three key proponents of the movement, with further examples to follow in tomorrow’s Day Sale. These pieces were met with interest from Asia, Russia and beyond, demonstrating the international appeal of the movement.
Oskar Schlemmer’s rare, museum-quality Tischgesellschaft (1923) from the collection of Dr. Erika Pohl-Ströher, sold to a Russian buyer for £2.6 million / $3.4 million – setting a record for the artist, the last major oil by whom was sold at auction in 1998.
Wassily Kandinsky’s Vertiefte Regung (1928), a meditation on the essential beauty of circles, that once completed hung in his Masters’ House, sold for £6.1 million / $8 million. A playful biomorphic work on paper by the artist (1941) made an above-estimate £711,000 / $934,823, pursued by two bidders including interest from Asia.
László Moholy-Nagy’s Segments (1921), a rare example of his avant-garde vision, returned to auction for the first time since 1985, selling for £495,000 / $650,826.
The Surrealist portion of the evening was led by René Magritte’s bold and beautifully painted L’Etoile du matin (1938), which sold for £5.3 million / $7 million in its first appearance at auction. A unique subject within the artist’s oeuvre, Magritte juxtaposes the profile of a Native American with that of his beloved wife Georgette. Painted in the same moment as Le principe du Plaisir, which set a record for the artist in New York last November, it was acquired a year after its execution by a renowned Belgian couple and had remained in the same collection since.
Impressive in scale and superbly executed, Atrata (1929) by Francis Picabia, appeared at auction for the first time since 1974 to meet with an extended seven-way bidding battle, including participants from Asia. A record for a work from his Transparences series, the painting made £3.7 million / $4.9 million.
A monumental canvas from Man Ray’s late Paris period, Femmelaharpe (1957) – inspired by the Old Masters’ motif of a woman playing an instrument – sold for £1.6m / $2.1m.
Other Noteworthy Sales
Pablo Picasso’s Le repos du faune (1956), a classical allegory on the three ages of men that also serves as a moving self-portrait, sold for £2.1 million / $2.8 million to a bidder from Asia. Prior to this sale, this important late work had been in the same private collection for decades and had never appeared at auction.
Also appearing at auction for the first time, Alberto Giacometti’s haunting portrait of his wife, Tête de femme (Annette) (1959), was competed for by four bidders, with interest from Russia and Asia, to make an above-estimate £3.3 million / $4.3 million.
Making its auction debut, Marc Chagall, Le peintre à la fête (1982), a joyful composition dominated by the figure of an artist at work, brought an above-estimate £1.8m / $2.3m, pursued by five bidders, including clients from Asia.