Soutine and Derain lead Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Auction – UPDATED with sale results
UPDATE: The evening totaled $158,505,000 with 44 of 47 lots sold (an additional 4 were withdrawn from sale). Judd Tully at Artinfo.com provides good post-sale coverage including this bit about one buyer’s “on camera” moment:
Overall, the sale was 35 percent higher than last May’s tally of $117 million but lagged far behind its arch rival Sotheby’s Tuesday evening sale, which made $230 million. Of course, Sotheby’s had a big leg up thanks to choice estate property from the collection of Alex and Elisabeth Lewyt, which pumped $88.6 million into the tally. No such luck here, with just a smattering of estate property, such as Pablo Picasso’s Surrealist, index-card-sized “Composition (Figure feminine sur une plage)” (1927), which sold from the Andy Williams collection for $1,443,750 (est. $800,000-1.2 million).
Still, bidders were game for big prices, such as for a sleeper Amedeo Modigliani, the early and fetching “La Juive” (1907-08), featuring the mysterious American sitter Maud Abrantes— most likely the artist’s lover — which soared to $6,843,750 (est. $2-3 million).
The buyer, seated on the aisle towards the back of the salesroom, recorded the bidding battle with his iPhone, holding it in one hand while bidding with his other, even taking a self-portrait shot after his winning hammer bid of $6 million. Later on, he declined to give his name though he admitted he was French, living in Switzerland, and the proud owner of other Modiglianis.
ORIGINAL POST: The two works with the highest pre-sale estimates at Christie’s May 8, 2013 Impressionist & Modern Evening Sale in New York are not by the usual suspects – i.e., Modigliani, Monet, Cezanne or Picasso (though works by Picasso round out the top five). According to the extensive lot notes, Chaim Soutine painted the top lot, a 1927 oil on canvas depiction of a Parisian pastry chef that is last of six paintings of pastry chefs the artist created during nearly a decade. A similarly-themed earlier painting was purchased by Dr. Albert Barnes, an event that fundamentally changed the artist’s life – he went from ignored and poor to celebrated.
The Derain (below) was likely painted in August 1905 when the artist and Henri Matisse were working in Collioure. According to the lot notes:
The products of this spectacular Collioure summer were seen in the fabled salle VII of the 1905 Salon d’Automne, on whose walls hung a group of the sun-drenched paintings by Matisse and Derain as well as some by their friends–Vlaminck, Manguin, Camoin, Marquet–and a few fellow travelers … These brash paintings–whose “colours became sticks of dynamite…primed to discharge light,” as Derain later characterized them … sorely challenged, exasperated and even outraged viewers and commentators alike. The critic Louis Vauxcelles called these hot young painters “les fauves”–“the wild beasts”–a sobriquet, or epithet depending on one’s point of view, that has withstood the test of time.
Here are the remaining lots in the top 5 (by estimate):
According to the lot notes, the Miro (above) was sold at Sotheby’s (New York, 1 May 1996, lot 52) to Helly Nahmad, who was recently indicted and arrested for his role in an illegal gambling and money laundering operation. Nahmad sold the painting to the current owner.