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Impressionist and Modern Art

Christie's

7PM, November 4, 2003

Sale 1299

"Le Pont de Langlois à Arles" by van Gogh

Lot 21, "Le Pont de Langlois à Arles," by Vincent van Gogh, watercolor, gouache, chalk, pen and ink over pencil on paper, 12 by 11 7/8 inches, 1888

By Carter B. Horsley

This evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie's November 4, 2003 is quite spectacular with three very fine works by Vincent van Gogh, a very strong Paul Cézanne, an excellent Camille Pissarro, a superb Fernand Léger, a good Pablo Picasso, a lovely Juan Gris, a stunning Maurice Vlaminck, a beautiful Henri Fantin-Latour, two good paintings by Claude Monet, a nice Gustave Caillebotte, a charming Pierre Renoir, and nudes by Paul Gauguin and Amedeo Modigliani.

The auction is highlighted by Lot 21, "Le Pont de Langlois a Arles," a ravishing watercolor, gouache, chalk, pen and ink over pencil on paper by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). Although it only measures 12 by 11 7/8 inches, this 1888 work of one of the artist's favorite and most famous compositions is stunning. It has a modest estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It sold for $8,295,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

Van Gogh painted the bridge six times during a six-week period and this was his fourth depiction. Other versions are in the Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller in Otterlo and the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne. The bridge was erected in 1820 and demolished in 1935. The catalogue entry notes that it was officially known as the Pont de Reginelle but was "commonly known as the Pont de Langlois after its keeper," adding that "in the inscription of the present painting, van Gogh erroneously referred to it as the Point de l'Anglais, a corruption of the latter name. "If van Gogh's choice of the Langlois Bridge as a motif for painting was inspired in part by the landscapes of his Dutch contemporaries, the manner in which he rendered the bridge was indebted to an altogether different source: Japanese prints. In the months before he left Paris for Arles, van Gogh spent countless hours at Samuel Bing's gallery studying Japanese woodcuts and drawings. He purchased as many examples as he could afford and even organized an exhibit of his acquisitions at Le Tambourin, a cafe on the Boulevard de Clichy patronized largely by artists and writers," the catalogue noted.

"Nature Morte, Branche d'Amandier" by van Gogh

Lot 6, "Nature morte, branche d'amandier," by Vincent van Gogh, oil and canvas, 9 ½ by 7 ½ inches, 1888

The cover illustration of the catalogue is Lot 6, "Nature morte, branche d'amandier," by Vincent van Gogh, a small oil on canvas that measures 9 ½ by 7 ½ inches. Painted in 1888, it has a modest estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000. It sold for $4,375,500.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"As one of the first paintings that van Gogh executed following his move to Arles in February, 1888, the present still-life occupies a pivotal place in the artist's oeuvre. An exquisite and jewel-like rendering of a flowering almond branch in a glass, the painting embodies the excitement that van Gogh felt upon arriving in Provence. 'Nature here is so extraordinarily beautiful,' he wrote his brother Theo. 'It is as soft and lovely as the combination of celestial blues and yellows in Vermeer's paintings. I cannot paint it as beautifully as that, but it absorbs me so much that I let myself go.'"

A similar still life without a book lying on the table is in the collection of the Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh in Amsterdam. The catalogue entry maintains that "Although the two paintings are identical in size, the present example is arguably the second and more definitive, with the almond branch in slightly fuller bloom and a book added in the background." "The almost-branch still-lifes are the immediate precursor to the first major series that van Gogh undertook at Arles: a group of fourteen paintings depicting orchards in bloom. Intended as the inaugural campaign in a projeted sequence chronicling the seasons, this extraordinary set of canvases struck van Gogh as one of his finest accomplishments to date."

"L'Allee des Alyschamps" by van Gogh

Lot 25, "L'allee des Alyscamps," by Vincent van Gogh, oil on canvas, 36 1/8 by 28 7/8 inches, 1888

The third van Gogh work in this auction is Lot 25, "L'allee des Alyscamps," a 36 1/8-by-28 7/8-inch oil canvas, also painted in Arles in 1888.

The catalogue provides the following commentary on this work:

"Executed in Arles in October, 1888, the present picture represents a key document in the evolution of van Gogh's art. With its expressive palette and vigorous brushwork, the painting is characteristic of the mature style that van Gogh established during his fifteen months at Arles a period that Ronald Pickvance calls 'the zenith, the climax, the greatest flowering of van Gogh's decade of artistic activity. 'Moreover, it is one of the first works that van Gogh made following Gauguin's arrival at Arles for a nine-week sojourn, during which the two artists lived and worked side-by-side in van Gogh's 'Yellow House.' Their partnership gave rise to a period of intense aesthetic exploration and unprecedented productivity for both painters.The present canvas was executed during the first major painting campaign that van Gogh and Gauguin undertook together at Arles. It depicts Les Alyscamps (The Elysian Fields), an ancient Roman cemetery southeast of the old city walls. Although literary references and archaeological evidence attest to the town's Greek origins, it rose to prominence only in 49 BC when Caesar used it as a naval base against Marseilles. Three years later, a Roman colony was founded at Arles with veterans from Caesar's sixth legion. During the first century AD, the town received a lengthy circuit of fortification walls as well as several impressive public buildings. These included a forum town square enclosed by a monumental double portico, a lavishly decorated theater, and a large amphitheater modeled on the Colosseum at Rome. In the later empire, Arles gained in status as an occasional imperial residence and the site of the first Christian council in 314. At the end of the fourth century, it replaced Trier as the headquarters of the Roman military prefecture an the chief city of the Roman West. After various vicissitudes, it was annexed by the Visigoths in 476. Originally established in pagan times, Les Alycamps remained in use well into the Middle ages. After this time, its rich collection of Roman and Early Christian sarcophagi was pillaged for building materials, gifts, and museum display. By the nineteenth century, the city was somewhat dilapidated, "a melancholy avenue of cypresses, lined with a succession of ancient sarcophagi, all empty, mossy, and mutilated,' to quote Henry James."

The lot has an estimate of $12,000,000 to $18,000,000. It sold for $11,767,500.

"Nu Couché" by Modigliani

Lot 29, "Nu Couché," by Amedeo Modigliani, oil on canvas, 35 1/4 by 57 5/8 inches, 1917

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) is perhaps best known for a series of nude paintings he executed between 1916 and 1920 and Lot 29, "Nu Couché," is the largest of the series. The 35 1/4-by-57 5/9-inch oil on canvas was executed in 1917. It has an ambitious estimate of $20,000,000 to $25,000,000. It sold for $26,887,500, shattering the previous world auction record for the artist of $16,,777,500 set at Sotheby's New York, November 11, 1999. According to an article in The New York Times November 5, 2003 by Carol Vogel the painting was consigned by Stephen Wynn, the casino operator. "After the sale, art experts were quick to point out that Mr. Wynn had paid nearly $10 million more for the painting when he brought it privately in the mid-1990s," Ms. Vogel wrote.

"Chemin Montant" by Caillebotte

Lot 15, "Chemin Montant," by Gustave Caillebotte, oil on canvas, 39 1/4 by 49 1/4 inches, 1881

The auction has two major works by Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894), Lots 15 and 8. Lot 15, "Chemin Montant," is a 39 1/4-by-49 1/4-inch oil on canvas that was executed in 1881 and has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It is a very interesting composition with a fine handling of light. It sold for $6,727,500.

"Voiliers sur la Seine à Argenteuill" by Caillebotte

Lot 8, "Voiliers sur la Seine à Argenteuill," by Gustave Caillebotte, oil on canvas, 28 7/8 by 17 inches, 1893

Lot 8, "Voiliers sur la Seine à Argenteuil," is a smaller but more dramatic work by Caillebotte. An oil on canvas that measures 28 7/8 by 17 inches, it was executed in 1893 and has a modest estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $1,407,500.

"Eve Bretonne" by Gauguin

Lot 14, "Eve Bretonne," by Paul Gauguin, pastel and chalk laid down on paper laid down on canvas, 22 by 10 3/8 inches, 1889

Another unusually vertical composition is Lot 14, "Eve Bretonne," by Paul Gauguin. A pastel and chalk on paper laid down on canvas that measures 22 by 10 3/8 inches, it was painted in 1889. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $657,100.

"Nympheas" by Monet

Lot 23, "Nympheas," by Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 66 1/2 by 38 1/2 inches, 1914-7

The auction has two good paintings by Claude Monet (1840-1926), Lots 23 and 19. The former is entitled "Nympheas" and is an oil on canvas that measures 66 1/2 by 38 1/2 inches. Executed between 1914 and 1917, it has a modest estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $4,151,500.

"Prairie à Giverny, effet du matin" by Monet

Lot 19, "Prairie à Giverny, effet du matin," by Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 19 5/8 by 32 1/4 inches, 1888

The other Monet, Lot 19, "Prairie à Giverny, effet du matin," is a very lyrical oil on canvas that measures 19 5/8 by 32 1/4 inches. Painted in 1888, it has a modest estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $480,000.

":Les enfants au bord de la mer" by Renoir

Lot 13, "Les enfants au bord de la mer," by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, oil on canvas, 22 by 18 1/8 inches, 1894

The auction also has two excellent works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Lots 13 and 17. The former is a charming study of girls by the seaside. An oil on canvas, it measures 22 by 18 1/8 inches and was painted in 1894. It has a conservative estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. It sold for $1,575,500.

"Madame Fould" by Renoir

Lot 17, "Portrait de Madame Fould, La femme au jabot," by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, oil on canvas, 22 by 18 1/8 inches, 1880

The other Renoir is a beautiful portrait of Madame Fould. An oil on canvas, it measures 22 by 18 1/8 inches. Executed in 1880, it has a very modest estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $480,000.

"Trouville, Scene à Plage" by Boudin

Lot 2, "Trouville, Scene à Plage," by Eugene Boudin, oil on canvas, 7 7/8 by 13 inches, 1880

Eugene Boudin is famed as an early Impressionist painter who focused mostly on harbor and shore scenes. Lot 2, "Trouville, Scene à Plage," is a wonderful example of his fresh colors and lively brushwork. An oil on canvas that measures 7 7/8 by 13 inches, it was painted in 1880. It has an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $455,500.

"Paysage" by Cézanne

Lot 7, "Paysage," by Paul Cézanne, oil on canvas, 18 by 21 3/4 inches, circa 1881

Lot 7, "Paysage," is a strong landscape study by Paul Cézanne that is intriguing for the apparently unfinished sections in the sky that rhythmically reinforce the verticality of some poles or trees on the ground. The catalogue observes that the vertical treatments in the sky are pentimenti that indicate that the composition was painted over another one. The oil on canvas measures 18 by 21 3/4 inches and was executed circa 1881. It has a modest estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $567,500.

"Damier, bouteuille et verre sur an table" by Gris

Lot 31, "Damier, bouteuille et verre sur une table," by Juan Gris, gouache, watercolor and pencil on paper, 9 by 7 1/8 inches, 1916

Lot 31 is a very beautiful still life by Juan Gris entitled "Damier, bouteuille et verre sur an table." A gouache, watercolor and pencil on paper, it measures 9 by 7 1/8 inches and was executed in 1916. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $340,000.

"La femme en rouge et vert" by Léger

Lot 22, "La femme en rouge et vert," by Fernand Léger, oil on canvas, 39 1/2 by 31 3/4 inches, 1914

Fernand Léger (1881-1955)(See The City Review article on Léger) went through many styles but his geometric abstractions are his most impressive. Lot 22, "La femme en rouge et vert" is a particularly striking example. The oil on canvas measures 39 1/2 by 31 3/4 inches and was executed in 1914. It has an estimate of $10,000,000 to $15,000,000. It sold for $22,407,500, far surpassing the previous world auction for the artist of $16,726,000 set at Christie's New York November 6, 2001. It had been looted from the gallery and residence of Paul Rosenberg by the German Army during World War II and restituted in September 2003 to the Rosenberg family, some of whose members attended this auction. The auction audience broke into applause at the Léger hammer price.

"Composition au feuillage" by Léger

Lot 39, "Composition au feuillage," by Fernand Léger, oil on canvas, 36 1/4 by 23 5/8 inches, 1926

Another Léger is Lot 39, a very handsome oil on canvas that measures 36 1/4 by 23 5/8 inches. Executed in 1926, it has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $903,500.

"Bassin à flots, Saint-Malo" by Signac

Lot 37, "Bassin à flots, Saint-Malo," by Paul Signac, oil on canvas, 18 1/8 by 25 5/8 inches, 1927-8

Lot 37 is an excellent oil on canvas by Paul Signac (1863-1935). An oil on canvas, it measures 18 1/8 by 25 5/8 inches and was painted in 1927-8. It has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $679,500.

"Launischer Strich" by Kandinsky

Lot 36, "Launischer Strich," by Wassily Kandinsky, oil on board, 27 1/2 by 19 1/2 inches, 1924

Lot 36, "Launischer Strich," is a classic work by Wassily Kandinsky. An oil on board that measures 27 1/2 by 19 1/2 inches, it was painted in 1924. It was once in the collection of Diego Rivera. It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $1,239,500.

"Vase de fleurs avec an plat de fraises" by Fantin-Latour

Lot 4, "Vase de fleurs avec un plat de fraises," by Henri Fantin-Latour, oil on canvas, 19 by 15 5/8 inches, 1865

Lot 4 is an exquisite floral still life by Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904). An oil on canvas, it measures 19 by 15 5/8 inches and was painted in 1865. It has an estimate of $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $950,000.

"Chatou, le pont" by Vlaminck

Lot 27, "Chatou, Le pont," by Maurice de Vlaminck, oil on canvas, 18 1/4 by 21 3/4 inches, 1905

Early works by Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958) are among the best Fauve paintings and Lot 27 is a very strong example of the artist's bold but simple palette. An oil on canvas, it measures 18 1/4 by 21 3/4 inches and was executed in 1905. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $1,400,000.

The auction was extremely successful with 36 of the 43 offered lots selling for $117,011,300. According to Christopher Burge, the auctioneer, the low estimate for the auction had been $90,500,000 and the high estimate $125,200,000. At a news conference after the auction, Mr. Burge noted that the consignments had been "discretionary" and not pressured or estate sales. He said that 66 percent of the buyers were American. He was obviously elated with the results and remarked that it was "a fantastic start to the two to three weeks of hyperactivity" that characterize the fall season.

A world auction record was also set for Henry Moore, whose "Three Piece Reclining Figure: Draped," a huge 1975 sculpture, sold for $6,167,500.

See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on Spring 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art Part 2 day auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist Art Part Two day auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Nov. 5, 2001 auction of the Smooke Collection at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg

See The City Review article on the Nov. 5, 2001 auction of the Hoener Collection at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg

See The City Review article on Phillips May 7, 2001 Impressionist & Modern Art auction

See The City Review article on the November 9, 2001 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on Phillips Fall 2000 Impressionist & Modern Art auction


 

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