this evening auction of Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby's
has no true masterworks, it does offer several fine works including
a very good landscape by Gustav Klimt, a strong drawing by Vincent
Van Gogh, a great nude drawing by Pablo Picasso, a very nice portrait
by Amedeo Modigliani, an excellent still life by Jean Metzinger,
and a good cityscape by Oskar Kokoschka.
In addition, the auction has a "Nympheas" by Claude
Monet," and a still-life by Paul Cézanne.
The unquestioned star of the auction is the landscape by Gustav
Klimt (1862-1918), which is entitled "Landaus Am Attersee."
An oil on canvas, it measures 43 ¼ inches square and was
executed circa 1914. It is the cover illustration of the catalogue
and has an ambitious estimate of $18,000,000 to $25,000,000. It
sold for $29,128,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results
mentioned in this article. That broke the world auction for
the artist that had been $22,490,000.
was a very successful sale despite the fact that only 70 percent
of the 57 offered lots sold. The sale total was $125,519,200.
The pre-sale low estimate had been $111.8 million and the pre-sale
high estimate had been $155.9 million.
Klimt, of course, is best known for his opulent, hypnoptic figure
compositions, and landscapes account only for about a quarter
of his oeuvre. The catalogue notes that "there are scarcely
any preparatory studies for the landscapes" and "as
such, they bear witness to Klimt's most direct response to the
nature world, and are his most private and intimate works in oil.
He sought to capture the purity of the natural world and its splendors
of color, heightened by the richness and texture of the surface.
Indeed, some of the more contemplative landscapes, such as the
present work, evoke moods that comment meaningfully on the very
nature of visual perception."
The catalogue entry also notes the stylistic influence of Egon
Schiele and remarks that "Klimt's characteristic use of the
square format canvas for his major landscapes inbues them with
a strong sense of proportion and harmony. In its richness of vision
and expansiveness of form; in its mood of seductive repose and
timeless tranquility, despite the ineluctable advance of history
beyond the harmony of the scene; and in its central importance
as one of the artist's most inspired views of Attersee, Landhaus
am Attersee is an undisputed masterpiece by Klimt."
Lot 6, "La
Moisson en Provence," is a large and very impressive watercolor,
gouache, charcoal, reed and quillpen and brown ink on off-white
wove paper laid down on millboard by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890).
It measures 19 7/8 by 24 inches and was executed in 1888.
It is a study for "Jardins de Marichers, an oil on canvas
in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and another study for the
same painting is in the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Mass. The
artist considered that painting the masterpiece of his Arles period.
The catalogue provides the following commentary:
"Much of the virtuosity of this work likes in the variety
of media employed by the artist to capture the different effects
of the receding landscape. The bare contours of the view and its
horizon were initially delineated in pencil, broadly sketched
in as a skeletal map of the plain before him. Its natural forms
were then given detail and substance in ink, a process that permitted
the artist to display the full range of his exceptional ability
with the pen. He contined to use the thin quill for the finer
lines in the distance, but one of the revelations for van Gogh
upon arriving in Arleshad been the quality of the locally grown
reeds used for drawing. The variation in breadth and intensity
of line that he found he could achieve enormously increased the
expressiveness of his draughtsmanship. Thus in the present picture
the swirling foliage of the foreground contrasts with the more
delicate lines of the harvest fields in the middle distance, different
again from the sublime lightness of touch achieved in the rolling
clouds. Van Gogh's ardent admiration for Japanese art was undoubtedly
an influence here, with the difference that van Gogh was attempting
with a pen nib the effects that the Japanese attained with a brush."
The lot has an estimate of $7,000,000 to $9,000,000. It sold
lyrical work in the auction is Lot 23, "Nu Couché,"
by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). The 38 ¼-by 51 ¼-inch
charcoal on canvas was executed in 1932 and comes from the collection
of Bill Blass, the fashion designer.
The work remained in the artist's own collection until his death
in 1973 and then was kept in the collection of his late wife Jacqueline
and then was inherited by her daughter.
It belongs to a series Picasso completed in 1932 depicted Marie-Thérèse
sleeping in the nude.
It has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It sold for
There are several other works by Picasso in the auction of lesser
quality, the best of which are Lots 39 and 44.
"La Mandolinste Assise," is a pleasant Cubist work of
a seated mandolin player. The small oil measures 15 by 9 ½
inches and was executed in 1911. It has an estimate of $1,000,000
to $1,500,000. It sold for $2,360,000.
"Verre et Ppe," is a much stronger work done in Picasso's
synthetic Cubism style. The oil, sand and India ink on canvas
measures 8 5/8 by 10 5/8 inches. Executed in 1918, it has a very
modest estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $400,000.
"Portrait de Leopold Zborowski," is a fine, small work
by Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920). The oil on canvas measures 17
¾ by 10 ¾ inches and was executed in 1917.
The man depicted in this portrait was Modigliani's primary dealer
and confidant during the artist's final years. The catalogue reproduces
two other portraits of him by Modigliani, both more finished than
this handsome work, which has a modest estimate of $1,200,000
to $1,600,000. It sold for $1,464,000.
"Grun," is a good abstraction by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944).
An oil on masonite laid down on wood, it measures 23 5/8 by 27
¾ inches. Executed in 1931, it has an estimate of only
$600,000 to $800,000. It was painted during his stay at the Bauhaus
school in Dessau where he shared a duplex house with Paul Klee.
It was passed at $550,000.
"Nature Morte aux Poires," is a fine and lovely Cubist
still life by Jean Metzinger (1883-1956). The oil on canvas measures
45 5/8 by 32 inches and was executed circa 1920-1. It has an estimate
of $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $792,000, slightly above
the previous world auction record for the artist.
"Personnages Dans Un Escalier," is a very strong composition
by Fernand Léger (1881-1955)(See The City Review article
A gouache and watercolor on paper, it measures 12 ¾ by
16 1/8 inches and was painted in 1914.
1911 and 1914," the catalogue entry notes, "Léger
executed a series of several highly geometric works called Contrastes
de formes which explore the relationships of color and shape
through geometric abstraction. In these compositions he experimented
radically with the plastic qualities of form, line and color,
replacing basic components of the human anatomy with geometric
shapes. Although still considered a Cubist by his association
with Braque and Picasso, Léger's work paid homage to the
age of the machine, much in the manner of his Futurist contemporaries
Umberto Boccioni and Gino Severini."
The lot has a modest estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It
boldest work is Lot 20, "Schoklo (Schokko Mit Tellerhut),"
a portrait of a woman in a broad hat by Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941).
The oil on cardboard laid down on canvas measures 29 ½
by 25 5/8 inches. Executed circa 1910, it depicts a model who
liked to drink a cup of hot chocolate, hence the nickname "Schokko."
The painting originally had another bold portrait on the reverse.
It has a somewhat ambitious estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000.
It sold for $8,296,000 breaking the previous world auction
record of $3,309,500 for the artist.
has a waterlily painting by Claude Monet (1840-1926), Lot 16,
"Nympheas." A nice example of this famous series, the
oil on canvas measures 36 ¼ by 35 inches and was executed
in 1908. It has an estimate of $10,000,000 to $15,000,000. It
sold for $10,424,000.
"crowd-pleaser" is Lot 10, a nice still-life by Paul
Cézanne (1839-1906). The oil on canvas was executed circa
1888-1890 and measures 15 1/8 by 18 ¼ inches. It has an
estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000. A little sketchy, its fruit,
however, well demonstrate the artist's celebrated brushwork. It
sold for $8,744,000.
Cézanne, Lot 22, "Une Moderne Olympia (Le Pacha),"
is a more finished but much earlier work that is an homage to
Edouard Manet's famous Olympia painting of 1865. Cézanne
painted two versions of this. The other is in the Musée
d'Orsay. The first owner of this was Auguste Pellerin. It has
an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It failed to sell
and was passed at $4,300,000.
"Zones d'Instabilité," is a strong oil on canvas
by Yves Tanguy. It measures 20 by 18 1/8 inches and was executed
in 1943. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It failed
to sell and was passed at $300,000.
Dongen (1877-1969) is an artist noted for his extremely bold and
highly saturated works. Lot 32, "Grand Bouquet de Fleurs,"
is a 77-by-51 1/4-inch oil on canvas that he executed circa 1908-1910.
It has an estimate of $1,0A00,000 to $1,800,000. It sold for
lots include Lot 51, a beautiful ink and pencil drawing on paper
by Salvador Dali (1904-1989), entitled "Figure aux Tiroirs."
The 29 3/4-by-22-inch work is dated 1937 and has an estimate of
$350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $458,400. Lot 21, "London,
Richmond Terrace," is an impressive oil on canvas by Oskar
Kokoschka that measures 35 by 51 1/8 inches. Executed in 1926,
it has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $960,000.
Lot 14, "Paysage à Osny Près de L'Abreuvoir,"
by Camille Pissarro, is a good oil on canvas that measures 28
5/8 by 36 ¼ inches. It was executed in 1883 and has an
estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $2,248,000.
A lovely painting by Constantin Brancusi, "Tete de Femme,"
Lot 24, sold to a European museum for $288,000, which was within