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Picasso, Modigliani and other heavy weights in London’s Impressionist and Modern Sale – UPDATED WITH SALE RESULTS

February 5, 2013
Sotheby's, Lot 12. PABLO PICASSO1881 - 1973 FEMME ASSISE PRÈS D'UNE FENÊTRE dated Boisgeloup 30 Octobre XXXII on a piece of the original stretcher affixed to the stretcher oil on canvas: 146 by 114cm, 57 1/2 by 44 7/8 in. Painted in Boisgeloup on 30th October 1932. Estimate: 25-35 million

Sotheby’s, Lot 12. PABLO PICASSO
1881 – 1973
FEMME ASSISE PRÈS D’UNE FENÊTRE
dated Boisgeloup 30 Octobre XXXII on a piece of the original stretcher affixed to the stretcher
oil on canvas
146 by 114cm.
57 1/2 by 44 7/8 in.
Painted in Boisgeloup on 30th October 1932.
Estimate: £25-35 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of £25.5 million (£28,601,250 with the buyer’s premium). Bloomberg’s Scott Reyburn reports this work had a third party guarantee and sold to the guarantor.

UPDATE 2: Scroll down for updates about the Christie’s sale.

UPDATE 1: Sotheby’s 40-lot Impressionist and Modern sale posted some strong results, particularly for the Schieles unloaded by the Leopold Museum. The oddball Monet waterlilies (below) sold well below estimate, a thoroughly pedestrian Gaugin landscape completely tanked, while a Degas pastel from the early 1880′s, estimated at £2.5-3.5 million, provoked fevered bidding before selling for a hammer price of £6.9 million (£7,769,250 with the buyer’s premium). The buyer of the Schiele (below) also dropped another £700,000 (£825,250 with the buyer’s premium) for a Morandi still life; and one bidder picked up lots 8, 9 & 10, sculptures by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth (according to Artinfo’s Judd Tully it was London dealer Alan Hobart of Pyms Gallery in Mayfair). Two works that should have been casualties –  portraits by Renoir and Matisse – ended up selling at hammer prices below estimate.  The sale continued with 21 lots of Surrealist work.

ORIGINAL POST: A large scale image of the physically fit and frequently tormented Marie-Thérèse Walter, Picasso’s “golden muse”, is the lead work at Sotheby’s evening sale of Impressionist & Modern Art Tuesday, February 5, 2013.  It’s a formidable painting with an estimate to match (and a slightly lugubrious video).  There’s also an entertaining catalogue entry that must have left the writer hyper-ventilating:

His muse’s potent mix of physical attractiveness and sexual naïvety had an intoxicating effect on Picasso, and his rapturous desire for the girl brought about a wealth of images that have been acclaimed as the most erotic and emotionally uplifting compositions of his long career. Picasso’s unleashed passion is nowhere more apparent than in the depictions of his muse seated or asleep, the embodiment of tranquillity and physical acquiescence.

Here are the rest of the top five lots (by estimate), starting with a peculiar Monet waterlilies:

Sotheby's, Lot 20. CLAUDE MONET1840 - 1926 NYMPHÉAS AVEC REFLETS DE HAUTES HERBES stamped Claude Monet (lower right) oil on canvas: 130 by 200cm., 51 1/8 by 78 3/4 in. Painted in 1914-17. Estimate: £12-18 million.

Sotheby’s, Lot 20. CLAUDE MONET
1840 – 1926
NYMPHÉAS AVEC REFLETS DE HAUTES HERBES
stamped Claude Monet (lower right)
oil on canvas: 130 by 200cm., 51 1/8 by 78 3/4 in.
Painted in 1914-17.
Estimate: £12-18 million. This lot sold for £8.0 million (£8,777,250 with the buyer’s premium).

Another large scale work is this Miro completed shortly before the end of World War II, one from a group of canvases exhibited by his New York dealer Pierre Matisse and the only one still in private hands. According to the lot notes:

Matisse was keen to demonstrate to the American public the lively state of painting in Europe in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, and probably deemed this group of large oils to be among the most energetic and life-affirming works coming from Europe.

Sotheby's, Lot 26. JOAN MIRÓ1893 - 1983 FEMME RÊVANT DE L'ÉVASION signed Miró, titled and dated 1.2.1945 on the reverse oil on canvas: 146 by 114cm., 57 1/2 by 44 7/8 in. Painted on 1st February 1945. Estimate: 8-12 million.

Sotheby’s, Lot 26. JOAN MIRÓ
1893 – 1983
FEMME RÊVANT DE L’ÉVASION
signed Miró, titled and dated 1.2.1945 on the reverse
oil on canvas: 146 by 114cm., 57 1/2 by 44 7/8 in.
Painted on 1st February 1945.
Estimate: £8-12 million. This lot sold for £7.5 million (£8,441,250 with the buyer’s premium). According to Artinfo’s Judd Tully this was sold to dealer Ezra Nahmad.

From the Leopold Museum in Vienna comes this Egon Schiele double portrait (along with two others – according to Judd Tully: The museum has been selling select works by the artist to settle restitution claims involving Schiele’s storied “Portrait of Wally.”).  And from Sotheby’s comes this hyperbolic catalogue entry (and shaky camera pseudo documentary):

Few works by Egon Schiele are as psychologically penetrating, autobiographically revealing or as exquisitely executed as Liebespaar (Selbstdarstellung mit Wally). The subject of self-portraiture enthralled the artist, and by the time the present work was created Schiele was engaged in producing what is now arguably the most celebrated stream of self-imagery of the 20th century. The most potent of these works conflated his key artistic concerns with personal crises, expressed in highly innovative compositional arrangements and strikingly bold execution. In this transfixing double portrait, Schiele expresses the emotional turmoil involved in the ending of his relationship with his lover Walpurga (Wally) Neuzil.

Sotheby's, Lot 6. EGON SCHIELE1890 - 1918 LIEBESPAAR (SELBSTDARSTELLUNG MIT WALLY) (LOVERS - SELF-PORTRAIT WITH WALLY) marked with the collector's stamp Sammlung Heinrich Böhler, inscribed Schiele and numbered No. 32 by another hand (lower left); stamped Nachlass Egon Schiele on the reverse gouache and pencil on paper: 47.4 by 30.5cm., 18 5/8 by 12in. Executed in 1914 or 1915. Estimate: 6.5-8.5 million.

Sotheby’s, Lot 6. EGON SCHIELE
1890 – 1918
LIEBESPAAR (SELBSTDARSTELLUNG MIT WALLY) (LOVERS – SELF-PORTRAIT WITH WALLY)
marked with the collector’s stamp Sammlung Heinrich Böhler, inscribed Schiele and numbered No. 32 by another hand (lower left); stamped Nachlass Egon Schiele on the reverse
gouache and pencil on paper: 47.4 by 30.5cm., 18 5/8 by 12in.
Executed in 1914 or 1915.
Estimate: £6.5-8.5 million. This lot sold for a hammer price of £7.0 million (£7,881,250 with the buyer’s premium). The work was sold to a Chinese buyer bidding by phone tweets the Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Crow.

The final of the top five is also a large scale work – a late double portrait by Max Beckmann.  The painting was done in New York in 1949, two years after he had moved to the States and a year before his death.  The catalogue entry does include this intriguing recollection:

In 1948 he delivered a lecture to the students at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston which was attended by the young Ellsworth Kelly, who recalled that: ‘It was not long before his death, and he looked tired but was still jovial. At that time he was the most important painter that I had come in contact with. It was a very significant event of my life. […] Every time I see a Beckmann, I’m impressed by the content of his work, his structure, colour, and especially his brushwork. Even though my work is not Expressionist, Beckmann’s visual force has informed my painting and my admiration for his art only grows with time.’

Sotheby's, Lot 22. MAX BECKMANN1884 - 1950 VOR DEM BALL (ZWEI FRAUEN MIT KATZE) (BEFORE THE BALL - TWO WOMEN WITH A CAT) signed Max Beckmann and dated NY 49 (upper left) oil on canvas: 142.5 by 89cm., 56 by 35in. Painted in New York in 1949. Estimate: 5-8 million.

Sotheby’s, Lot 22. MAX BECKMANN
1884 – 1950
VOR DEM BALL (ZWEI FRAUEN MIT KATZE) (BEFORE THE BALL – TWO WOMEN WITH A CAT)
signed Max Beckmann and dated NY 49 (upper left)
oil on canvas: 142.5 by 89cm., 56 by 35in.
Painted in New York in 1949.
Estimate: £5-8 million. “Bidding” on this lot stopped at £4.6 million and it failed to sell.

UPDATE: Lot 20 (below), a late Kandinsky, one of the top five works by estimate, was withdrawn, whereas the early Kandinsky, lot 26 (below) made a hammer price of £6 million, though it could have sold for as low as £4 million. Lot 11 (below), an 1881 work by Berthe Morisot soared passed its £1.5-2.5 million estimate to hammer for £6.2 million (a new auction record for the artist tweets the Wall Street Journal‘s Kelly Crow) – the same bidder purchased lot 18 (below) Picasso’s “Incredible Hulk,” and lot 23 (below) the Aristide Maillol spending more than $24.6 million. Complete results from the sale.

ORIGINAL POST: Meanwhile, over at Christie’s, a portrait of another tormented lover leads Christie’s evening sale on February 6, 2013.  This time, it’s Amedeo Modigliani’s common-law wife Jeanne Hébuterne. The catalogue notes predictably enough include exhortations about the painting’s greatness:

Modigliani used portraiture, especially of those in his immediate circle, as a means to explore an idealised aspect of humanity, an image of internal as well as external likeness. This is clearly the case in Jeanne Hébuterne au chapeau: while the hat and dress that Jeanne are wearing hint at the fashion of the day, the overall effect is one of timelessness. Jeanne has served as the Muse for an insightful and lyrical exploration of the human spirit, created using an incredibly subtle blending of colours that radiate a sense of health.

There is, however, a wonderful photo of the sitter (who appears to be part giraffe) taken the same year as the painting was executed.

Christie's, Lot 16. Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) Jeanne Hébuterne (Au chapeau)  signed 'modigliani' (upper right)  oil on canvas: 36¼ x 21¼ in. (92 x 54 cm.)  Painted in 1919 Estimate: £16,000,000 - £22,000,000 ($25,376,000 - $34,892,000)

Christie’s, Lot 16. Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)
Jeanne Hébuterne (Au chapeau)
signed ‘modigliani’ (upper right)
oil on canvas: 36¼ x 21¼ in. (92 x 54 cm.)
Painted in 1919
Estimate: £16,000,000 – £22,000,000 ($25,376,000 – $34,892,000). This lot sold for a hammer price of £24.0 million (£26,921,250 or $42,320,205 with the buyer’s premium).

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 6.08.42 PM

Lot 11. Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) Après le déjeuner  signed 'Berthe Morisot' (lower right)  oil on canvas  Estimate: £1,500,000 - £2,500,000

Lot 11. Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)
Après le déjeuner
signed ‘Berthe Morisot’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
Estimate: £1,500,000 – £2,500,000. This lot sold for a hammer price of £6.2 million (£6,985,250 or $10,980,813 with the buyer’s premium).

Next up are two works by Wassily Kandinsky, one from 1909 and the other from 1942, two years before his death. The first picture reflects the influence of the French Fauves:

Sotheby's, Lot 26. Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) Murnau - Ansicht mit Burg, Kirche und Eisenbahn  signed and dated 'KANDINSKY 1909' (lower left)  oil on cardboard laid down on board: 18 7/8 x 27 1/8 in. (48 x 69 cm.)  Painted in 1909 Estimate: £5,000,000 - £7,000,000 ($7,930,000 - $11,102,000)

Christie’s, Lot 26. Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
Murnau – Ansicht mit Burg, Kirche und Eisenbahn
signed and dated ‘KANDINSKY 1909′ (lower left)
oil on cardboard laid down on board: 18 7/8 x 27 1/8 in. (48 x 69 cm.)
Painted in 1909
Estimate: £5,000,000 – £7,000,000 ($7,930,000 – $11,102,000). This lot sold for a hammer price of £6.0 million £6,761,250 or $10,628,685 with buyer’s premium).

Of the latter painting, the lot notes offer this interesting insight:

Painted in January 1942, it is one of the very last large-scale works on canvas that the artist produced during the culminatory period of his art in Paris during the Second World War. Due to poverty and shortages caused by the war, and the Nazi Occupation of the city in 1940, Kandinsky was unable to procure canvas at this time. Between the summer of 1942 and his death in December 1944, he was compelled to work only on small-scale paintings made on cardboard. Balancement is one of only a very few large-scale works from this wartime period that Kandinsky chose to make on his rapidly diminishing supply of canvas, and one of only a very few works on canvas from this time to still remain in private hands.

Sotheby's, Lot 20. Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) Balancement  signed with the monogram and dated '42' (lower left); dated and numbered 'No 686 1942' (on the reverse) oil on canvas: 35 x 45¾ in. (89 x 116 cm.)  Painted in January 1942 Estimate: £5,000,000 - £8,000,000 ($7,930,000 - $12,688,000)

Christie’s, Lot 20. Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
Balancement
signed with the monogram and dated ’42′ (lower left); dated and numbered ‘No 686 1942′ (on the reverse)
oil on canvas: 35 x 45¾ in. (89 x 116 cm.)
Painted in January 1942
Estimate: £5,000,000 – £8,000,000 ($7,930,000 – $12,688,000). This lot was withdrawn.

Except for a few works, I’m not a fan of Renior’s oeuvre – and this insipid painting is not one of those exceptions. The catalogue tells us that, “L’ombrelle relates to a sequence of exuberantly painted canvases depicting women in garden settings that Renoir executed in the years immediately following the very first Impressionist exhibition of 1874.”

Sotheby's, Lot 13. Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) L'ombrelle  signed 'Renoir' (lower left)  oil on canvas: 24 3/8 x 20 in. (61.9 x 50.8 cm.)  Painted in 1878  Estimate: £4,000,000 - £7,000,000 ($6,344,000 - $11,102,000)

Christie’s, Lot 13. Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
L’ombrelle
signed ‘Renoir’ (lower left)
oil on canvas: 24 3/8 x 20 in. (61.9 x 50.8 cm.)
Painted in 1878
Estimate: £4,000,000 – £7,000,000 ($6,344,000 – $11,102,000). This lot sold for a hammer price of £8.6 million (£9,673,250 or $15,206,349 with the buyer’s premium).

And of this Picasso nude, the sale catalogue says: “Painted on 14 February 1960 – Valentine’s Day - Nu accroupi shows a woman sitting with crossed legs against a verdant backdrop; she appears to be a modernised representation of that much-loved subject, the bather.”

I think it’s a different subject … the Incredible Hulk.

Sotheby's, Lot 18. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Nu accroupi  signed 'Picasso' (upper left); signed and dated 'Picasso 14.2.60' (on the reverse) oil on canvas: 57 3/8 x 44 7/8 in. (146 x 114.1 cm.)  Painted in 1960  Estimate: £3,000,000 - £5,000,000 ($4,758,000 - $7,930,000)

Christie’s, Lot 18. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Nu accroupi
signed ‘Picasso’ (upper left); signed and dated ‘Picasso 14.2.60′ (on the reverse)
oil on canvas: 57 3/8 x 44 7/8 in. (146 x 114.1 cm.)
Painted in 1960
Estimate: £3,000,000 – £5,000,000 ($4,758,000 – $7,930,000). This lot sold for a hammer price of £6.5 million (£7,321,250 or $11,509,005 with the buyer’s premium).

Lot 23. Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) La nuit, première état  signed with the monogram (on the underside of the left thigh), numbered and inscribed with the foundry mark '4/6 E.GODARD Fondeur PARIS' (on the back of the base) bronze with black patina  Height: 45¾ in. (116.2 cm.)  Conceived in 1902 and cast at a later date in a numbered edition of six plus four épreuvres d'artiste and two casts hors commerce Estimate: £1,000,000 - £1,500,000 ($1,572,000 - $2,358,000)

Lot 23. Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)
La nuit, première état
signed with the monogram (on the underside of the left thigh), numbered and inscribed with the foundry mark ’4/6 E.GODARD Fondeur PARIS’ (on the back of the base)
bronze with black patina
Height: 45¾ in. (116.2 cm.)
Conceived in 1902 and cast at a later date in a numbered edition of six plus four épreuvres d’artiste and two casts hors commerce
Estimate: £1,000,000 – £1,500,000 ($1,572,000 – $2,358,000). This lot sold for a hammer price of 1.2 million (£1,385,250 or $2,177,613 with the buyer’s premium).

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