NEW YORK, NY.- Christies
New York announced further highlights of its upcoming Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on May 1. In keeping with collector demand for blue-chip works of the period offered fresh-to-the market from private collections, Christies specialists have assembled a superb selection of paintings, sculpture and works on paper by the major artists of the era, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti, Claude Monet, Salvador Dali, Joan Miró and Henry Moore, among others. The complete sale of 32 works is expected to realize in excess of $100 million.
As was previously announced, the star lot of the sale is a rediscovered study for Card Players, Paul Cézannes seminal masterpiece series of the modern period (estimate: $15-20 million). The meticulously preserved watercolor was last seen in public in 1953 and was assumed lost until its rediscovery this spring in the private collection of the late Dr. Heinz F. Eichenwald, a prominent physician and collector based in Texas.
Our highly-successful London sales in this category in February demonstrated there is overwhelming demand among collectors worldwide for blue-chip works from private collections, especially those not seen on the market in several decades, said Brooke Lampley, Head of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christies New York. Our upcoming May sales were assembled with this specific collecting formula in mind, to best meet the needs of todays discerning client. As a result, this sale features an exceptional line-up of rare rediscoveries, career masterpieces, and fresh-to-market works with a strong emphasis on provenance and exhibition history. From Cézanne to Matisse, Picasso and Monet, all of the major artists of the era are well represented in this sale, with a diversity of offerings to suit collectors at every price level.
Sale Highlights - Henri Matisse
As a fitting salute to the spring season, Christies selected as its cover lot Les Pivoines (The Peonies), a lush still-life from Henri Matisses highly-desirable Fauve period that bursts with vivid color and pattern (estimate: $8-12 million). Painted in 1907 in the remote fishing village of Collioure, the painting is emblematic of the feverishly colored canvases Matisse and his protégé André Derain first began producing in 1905 as a bold exploration of form and color. While one critic famously likened their efforts to that of wild beasts (les fauves), forward-thinking critic and collector Félix Fénéon, the artistic director of the prestigious Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, immediately recognized the significance of Matisses innovations and snapped up Les Pivoines within weeks of its creation. Fénéon later featured the work in a still-life exhibition at his gallery in November 1907 and again in 1910, in a solo retrospective showcasing Matisses steady progression toward the flattened, highly reductive style that would cement his place as one of the giants of Modern Art.
In the modern auction market, Fauve paintings of the caliber of Les Pivoines continue to inspire equally feverish competition among collectors. In May of 2011, a vibrant high Fauve landscape by Matisses contemporary Maurice de Vlaminck fetched $22.5 million at Christies New York, setting a new world auction record for the artist. Similarly, in June of 2011, a fauve landscape of Collioure painted by Derain sold for $24.1 million at auction, setting a record for the artist.
Pablo Picasso - Muses and Motifs
In keeping with ever-increasing demand for major works by Picasso, Christies is pleased to present a diverse selection of six Picasso works from various collections, with an emphasis on the great muses of the artists mature career - from Marie-Thérèse Walter to Françoise Gilot, Dora Maar and Jacqueline Roque. The top lot of the group is Deux nus couchés (estimate: $8-12 million), a large-format depiction of two reclining nudes that manages to evoke with its verdant grass-green background a modernist riff on Manets great 1862-3 masterpiece Le déjeuner sur l'herbe. Picassos version was painted in a single day in March 1968, while the artist was living at his villa in Mougins. In his depiction of both figures, one can easily identify Jacqueline Roque, Picassos second wife and the omnipresent muse of his last decade of paintings. The painting was acquired by the current owner in the year after its completion, and has remained in their collection since.
The sale also boasts works from the legendary era of Marie-Thérèse Walter, the young blonde muse who inspired Picassos great series of masterpiece works in 1932. Le Repos (Marie-Thérèse Walter) is a close-up portrait of his lovers face as she sleeps, her hands folded sweetly under her chin (estimate: $5-7 million). Of all the outstanding portraits of the series, Le Repos is among the most innovative, with its closely cropped horizontal composition that lends a sense of heightened intimacy to the work. It was painted in May of 1932 at the Château de Boisgeloup, just a few short months after he completed Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, his tour-de-force depiction of a reclining Marie-Thérèse that sold in May 2010 at Christies New York for a record $106.5 million and remains the most expensive painting ever sold at auction.
Additional Picasso works to be featured in the sale include Sur la terrasse (estimate: $500,000-700,000), a 1933 work on paper from the Collection of Evelyn D. Haas, a prominent San Francisco collector and philanthropist (see dedicated collection release); Femme assise (estimate: $2.5-3.5 million), a 1953 painting of a raven-haired woman that conflates his earlier searing portraits of Dora Maar with the fractured visage of Françoise Gilot; Femme dans l'atelier (estimate: $3-5 million), a masterful 1956 portrayal of Jacqueline Roque from Picassos acclaimed atelier series painted in homage to his great rival Matisse; and Mousquetaire et nu assis (estimate: $5-8 million), a large-format painting from 1967 that is among the artists great musketeer paintings of his last decade.
Modernist Sculpture - Giacometti and Moore
In recent auction seasons, modern sculpture has moved into the spotlight, with spectacular prices achieved for three-dimensional works by the great Modern masters. Among the star lots of the upcoming sale is Giacomettis Buste de Diego, a prized lifetime cast in bronze that stands over two feet tall (estimate: $8-12 million). Conceived in 1957 and cast the following year, the sculpture depicts the face and distinct profile of one of the most-recognized characters of 20th century art, Giacomettis brother and frequent collaborator Diego. With its elongated, fin-like narrow head, Buste de Diego is closely related to Grande tête mince, an earlier depiction of Diego that fetched $53.3 million at Christies New York in May 2010 as part of the record-breaking sale of the Collection of Mrs. Sidney F. Brody.
Also featured in the upcoming sale is Henry Moores monumental Reclining figure (estimate: $4-6 million). Conceived in 1956 at the height of Moores career, when he was widely recognized as Britains most important living artist, the sculpture is unusual among his reclining figures in that it captures his female subject seemingly in mid-motion, halfway between a state of dormancy and awakening. The work had previously been in the collection of Robert B. Mayer, the late founding member of Chicagos Museum of Contemporary Art, and has been exhibited at the University of Chicago, where it was on long-term loan. The auction market for Moore works is at peak this spring; in February, Christies London set a new world auction record for the artist with the sale of Reclining figure: Festival, which soared to $30.1 million after a protracted bidding battle.
Monets Iconic Grainstacks
Among the Impressionist offerings in the sale, a stand-out is Monets Les demoiselles de Giverny (estimate: $9-12 million), one of only three views of grainstacks the artist painted in 1894, when he was moved to revisit the theme of his highly-acclaimed 1891 series of les meules paintings. In this refreshed series, Monet chose to focus on a cluster of a dozen meulettes, unfinished sheaves of wheat bound roughly together as protection from the elements. Monet likened the form of the sheaves to young ladies posed against the landscape, an effect that is heightened by the paintings soft pastel hues and pale glowing light. The painting bears both an impressive provenance and exhibition history, having been selected for inclusion in an 1895 solo show of Monets work at Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris. It was promptly acquired by the Parisian collector Isaac Montaignac and has remained in private hands since the early 1920s. The upcoming sale marks the first-ever public exhibition of the work in the United States.
Important Private Collections
Christies is honored to have been entrusted with several important estate collections this season, including property from the Collection of Peter H.B. Frelinghuysen, Jr., heir to the exceptional collecting legacy that began with his grandparents, the famed collectors H.O. and Louisine Havemeyer. The upcoming sale features two stellar works directly descended from the Havemeyers personal collection: Edgar Degass Grande arabesque, deuxième temps, an exquisitely balanced and poised bronze of the artists signature dancer (estimate: $500,000-700,000) and Mary Cassatts Françoise in a Round-Backed Chair, Reading, a superb example of the artists mature paintings of children (estimate: $1-1.5 million).
Additional private collection highlights include Georges Braques Mandoline à la sonate (estimate: $2.5-3.5 million), a lyrical still life from the Collection of Paul and Ruth Tishman, noted collectors and members of the long-established New York construction and real estate family; and Aristide Maillols life-size bronze Vénus (estimate: $600,000-800,000), which is offered from the Collection of John W. Kluge. The complete collection, which is being sold across multiple sales at Christies, is part of a major $400 million gift from Kluges estate to Columbia University, his alma mater.