Christie's and Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art sales in NY fail to impress
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Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale
on Wednesday in New York with three works eclipsing the $20 million mark. The total,
however, was far from stellar, falling short of the $162-232 million
pre-sale estimate. Two new artist records at auction were set for the
Fauve artist Maurice de Vlaminck and the neo-Impressionist artist
Maximilien Luce. In total, sell-through percentages were strong, with
82% sold by lot and 81% by value.
The top lot of the sale week for any auction house was Claude Monet’s
Les Peupliers, one of the most celebrated of the artist’s great series
of works from his years in Giverny. Painted en plein air during the
summer of 1891, the work is the largest of the artist’s paintings
devoted to a picturesque arrangement of poplar trees. Offered in
pristine condition from an important private collection, the painting
sold for $22.5 million to a private American collector. The painting was
last sold at Christie’s in 2000 for $7 million – a three-fold increase
in value just over 10 years.
However, another star lot by Monet proved to be a major disappointment.
Iris mauves – estimated at $15-20 million – failed to find a buyer when
no one bid above $12.5 million.
De Vlaminck's Paysage de banlieue (pictured above) smashed
the artist's record of $10.76 million, fetching a staggering $22.5
million. The work ranks among the very greatest of the artist’s oeuvre painted during 1905, the
most celebrated and innovative years of his career. During this period,
Vlaminck worked almost exclusively in the western suburbs of Paris,
particularly in and around Chatou, where Paysage de banlieue was
painted. A lifelong resident of this region, which the Impressionists
had immortalized during the 1870s and 1880s, Vlaminck drew his most
profound artistic inspiration from the familiar local landscape.
In addition to the top-selling lots by Monet and Vlaminck, Pablo
Picasso’s Les femmes d'Alger, version L, from the artist’s
groundbreaking 1955 series of 15 paintings, fetched $21.3 million.
Maintained in a private collection for over 50 years, the painting sold
to an anonymous bidder.
Another record was set by Maximilien Luce, whose Notre-Dame de Paris
realized $4.2 million against an estimate of $2-3 million. The French
artist’s previous record – $2.8 million for La Seine au pont
Saint-Michel – was set in May 2007 at Christie’s New York.
An impressive result was also achieved by Henri Matisse as his La
fenêtre ouverte fetched $15.8 million, comfortably surpassing the $12
million high estimate.
In total, three lots were sold above $20 million, four lots above $10
million, while 19 lots surpassed the $1 million mark. Buyers (by lot /
by origin) were 47% European, 36% American, 4% Asian and 13% other.
Eleven different countries were represented, with 70 clients bidding by
phone, according to Christie’s.
Left: La fenêtre ouverte, Henri Matisse, 1911, Oil
over pencil on canvas, 28 5/8 x 23¾ in Right: Notre-Dame de Paris, Maximilien Luce, 1900, Oil
on canvas, 45¾ x 32 in (116 x 81.3 cm)
“The results demonstrate the lasting appeal of great works in the global
marketplace. Masterpiece-quality works performed very well, as did
Modernist and Surrealist works from important private collections. It
was fascinating to see this marked increase in value play out across
multiple genres tonight, from Monet’s Poplars, to the record-breaking
Vlaminck landscape, which sold for $6.8 million in 1994 and went on to
achieve more than 22.5 million in our saleroom tonight,” said Marc
Porter, Chairman of Christie’s Americas.
Matthew Armstrong, director of Peter Freeman Gallery, told Bloomberg,
“We are seeing a seismic shift toward more contemporary art because
great Impressionist and modern artworks are simply harder to find. We
don’t see the same level of quality as we did at the peak of the
Sotheby’s opened Impressionist and Modern Art sales week in New York with a rather lackluster performance. Its evening sale
totaled $170 million against a pre-sale range of $159-230 million
with 74.6% sold by lot. The total fell short of the auction house’s
parallel sale last year which realized $196 million.
Although the top lot of the evening – Pablo Picasso’s Femmes lisant
(Deux personnages) – fetched $21.3 million, it was well below the
pre-sale $25-35 million estimate (pictured below on left). Painted in
1934, the work is a striking portrayal of Marie-Thérèse Walter–the
artist’s beloved mistress during the 1930s–reading with her sister. The
canvas is among the most monumental of the iconic series of pictures
depicting the young woman, and was last on the market in 1981.
A rare wooden bust by Paul Gauguin sold for $11.2 million, setting a
record for a sculpture by the French artist. Jeune tahitienne
(pictured below on right)- an exquisite sculpture carved during Paul
Gauguin’s first trip to Tahiti between 1890 and 1893. As the only
fully-worked bust portrait that Gauguin is known to have created, it is
unique within his oeuvre, and numbers among the artist’s finest
sculptures in private hands.
Left: Femmes lisant (Deux personnages), Pablo Picasso,
1934, Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 by 28 3/4 in. Right: Jeune tahitienne, Paul Gauguin, circa 1893,
Painted tamanu wood, pasted paper, red coral and shell, height: 9 5/8
Another record was achieved by Paul Delvaux, whose Les Cariatides
sold for $9 million following intense bidding – nearly double the
pre-sale high estimate. Delvaux’s
previous record was set in 1999 when his Le Miroir fetched
$5.2 million at Christie’s London.
Alexej von Jawlensky Frau mit grünem Fächer (Woman with a
green fan) sold within estimate at $11.3 million – the second
highest ever work by the Russian artist.
“The market is dull,” Robert Landau, a Canadian dealer, told the
New York Times after the sale. “People are desperate for
merchandise. Buyers are waiting for the sales in June, which will have
better material.” Simon Shaw, Sotheby's senior vice president and
specialist in charge of the sale, said the salesroom was "nice" and
"solid,” adding that, "while not euphoric, in most cases it saw solid
The sale boasted an impressive array of Picasso works as a total of five
works by the famed Spanish artist eclipsed the $5 million mark. His
Couple à la guitare realized $9.6 million, a somewhat disappointing
result considering the pre-sale estimate of $10-15 million. The artist
fared better with Femme, which sold for nearly $8 million
against a pre-sale $5 million high estimate.
Alberto Giacometti’s Femme debout fetched $7.4 million - more
than double the $3-6 million pre-sale estimate. His Portrait de
Maurice Lefebvre-Foinet, however, estimated to realize up to $6
million, failed to find a buyer.
Other notable sales included Claude Monet’s La Seine à Argenteuil
that realized $6.2 million - just above its low estimate; René
Magritte’s Quand l'heure sonnera – which sold within estimate
at nearly $6 million; and André Lhote, who achieved a surprising result
as his Les Joueurs de Rugby sold for $2.5 million, well beyond
the pre-sale high estimate of $700,000.
Written by MutualArt.com staff
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