By Carter B. Horsley
This day auction of Impressionist
& Modern Art at Sotheby's November 3, 2005 is highlighted
by several fine Fauve works, some fine drawings and a great terracotta
bust by Auguste Rodin.
Lot 234, "Arbes Automne,"
is a very fine Fauve oil on canvas by Emile-Othon Friesz (1879-1949).
It measures 32 by 25 5/8 inches and was executed in 1906. The
back-cover illustration of the catalogue, it has a modest estimate
of $350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $654,400 including the
buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.
Auguste Herbin (1882-1960)
is represented in this auction by three good and quite different
works. The most spectacular is Lot 220, "Les Quais du Port
de Bastia," an oil on canvas that measures 29 by 23 3/4 inches.
Executed in 1907, it is a marvelous and very strong Fauve work.
The catalogue notes that "The present painting is a dazzling
mosaic of color, posing a sharp contrst to therelatively sober,
restained scenes of Lille and Paris which Herbin executed in the
few first few years of the century. Les quais du port de Bastia
reveals the inspiration the artist found in the brilliant Southern
light of Corsica."
The lot, which is the best
in the auction, has a very conservative estimate of $250,000 to
$300,000. It sold for $654,400.
Lot 338, "Composition"
is a fine oil on canvas by Herbin that was executed in 1916 and
measures 31 7/8 by 21 1/4 inches. During World War I, the artist
was drafted into the auxiliary force of the French Army and decorated
a military chapel and designed camouflage materials for the air
"During this difficult
time," the catalogue noted, "he turned his attention
to stilllife, using it as a basis for analyzing form and color.
He introduced texture into his works by painting areas in thick
paint and varying vrushstrokes, which was used to convey a relief-like
quality to the surface of the canvas, and is particularly successful
in the present paintng. Although Herbin's work was nearing abstraction,
it remained based in reality through the war. In this painting,
the geometric areas of color and texture are drawn together by
the recognizable obects of the plant pot, the bunch of flowers
and the pomegranate."
The lot has an estimate of
$200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $216,000.
Lot 258 is a good Cubist abstraction
of a landscape by Auguste Herbin. An oil on canvas, it measures
31 7/8 by 39 3/8 inches and was painted in 1913. It has a modest
estimate of $180,000 to $200,000. It sold for $93,000.
The catalogue notes that "A few years after the present work
was painted,Herbin was recognized as a pioneer of the synthetic
form of Cubism which departed from the more fractured and highly
analytical depiction of forms that characterized the movement's
Lot 217 is a "Sketch for
Blue Apple Tree Series" by Piet Mondrian (1872-1944). While
Mondrian is most famous for his grid-like abstractions, his nature
studies are very impressive. This oil on card laid down on canvas
measures 12 1/2 by 15 inches and was executed circa 1908. It has
an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $318,400.
Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)
was an American who became a German Expressionist painter and
then developed his own style of lyrical abstraction. Lot 255,
"The Philosophers," is a great pen and ink on paper
that measures 9 1/2 by 12 3/8 inches. Dated in 1911, it is a wonderful
example of his early expressionism that was tinged with humor
and fantasy. It has a conservative estimate of $50,000 to $70,000.
It sold for $138,000.
Lot 314 is a good oil on canvas
by Man Ray (1890-1976) entitled "Leda and the Swan."
It measures 30 1/8 by 40 1/8 inches and is dated 1941. The catalogue
entry for the lot maintains that it is "one of the most remarkable
paintings made by Man Ray during his eleven-year stay in Hollywood,"
adding that it appears in a portrait of Man Ray painted in 1941
by George Biddle. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.
It sold for $475,000.
Lot 304 is a very strong street
scene by Herman Max Pechstein (1881-1955) that has been consigned
by the Los Angles County Museum of Art. An oil on canvas, it measures
34 7/8 by 24 3/4 inches. Dated 1922, it is also a double-sided
work and the reverse is a painting of a sleeping child. The lot
has a conservative estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold
Lot 228 is a very good, Cézannesque
river scene by Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958). Entitled "La
Seine à Chatou," it is an oil on canvas that measures
25 3/4 by 32 inches and was executed circa 1909-1910.
Vlaminck was one of the great
Fauve painters and the catalogue entry for this lot notes that
after viewing an exhibition in 1907 of Cézanne's work Vlaminck
began to change his style. The entry includes the following very
interesting quotation from Vlaminck:
"To work by pressing the
tube directly on to a canvas soon leads to excessive cleverness;
in the end you transpose mathematically...emerald green becomes
black, pink a flamboyant red, etc. suddenly numbers stand out
and success is deadend. The play of pure colors...the extreme
orchestration into which I threw myself unrestraintedly no longer
satisfied me. I could not stand not being able to hit harder,
to have reached maximin insnenity, to be limited by the blue or
red of a paint dealer."
The lot has a modest estimate
of $350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $374,400.
Lot 202 is a very nice oil
on canvas of two woman by a tree by Odilon Redon (1840-1916),
the subject of a current exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
It measures 22 by 11 3/4 inches and was executed circa 1905. It
has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 118 is a small but fine
oil on board by Eugène Boudin (1824-1898), entitled "Trouville,
Le Port," which was once in the collection of Cary Grant.
It measures 13 7/8 by 10 1/4 inches and is dated 1885. It has
an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $108,000.
One of the loveliest works
in the auction is a red chalk drawing on paper by Edgar Degas,
Lot 128, "Portrait de Femme." It measures 11 3/4 by
7 1/4 inches and was executed circa 1866. It is one of several
works in the auction that has beenconsigned by the Los Angeles
County Museum of Art. It has an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000.
It sold for $114,000.
Another work consigned by the
same museum is Lot 129, "Clown Anglais," by Georges
Roualt (1871-1958). An oil on canvas, it measures 25 3/4 by 17
inches and was painted in 1937. It was formerly in the collections
of Stavros Niarchos and Mr. and Mrs. Edward G. Robinson. It has
an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $396,800.
Lot 142 is a beautiful terracotta
bust, 16 inches high, of a young woman by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917).
It was executed circa 1875 and has a modest estimate of $120,000
to $180,000. It sold for $240,000.
The catalogue notes that around
the time this work was executed artists such as Renoir and Jean-Baptiste
Carpeaux "looked back to the art of eighteenth century France,
"finding in it a life and expression they felt was absent
from academic art," adding that "Additionally, at the
Petite Ecole in Paris the teaching of Lecoq de Boisbaudran favored
the naturalism and vicacity of eighteenth-century art over the
static idealism of ancient sculpture." The catalogue entry
continued with the following commentary:
"Rodin followed Boisbaudran's
training, and it is within the context of the eighteenth-century
revival that his Portrait of a Young Woman is situated.
The rapidity of the technique suggests qualities of photographic
instaneity, where the subject's surprised movement is captured
and suspended in time. By contrast, the few allegorial figures
he modeled in terra cotta during the same period...obey the allegorical
tradition and lack the singular expression and spirit that distingush
our bust. In contrast to Rodin's many inmaginative busts from
the same period, the sculpture is most likely a portrait, possibly
of Mme. Rodin....Terracotta was a favorite material of eighteenth-century
sculptors because it preserved the spontaneity and gesture of
the artist better than any other medium. In contrast to the intervention
of tools, assistants, and long fabrication involved in producing
bronze or mables, terra cotta allowed immediacy of execution."
Lot 138, "Le Saule au
Bord de L'Aven," is a good landscape by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903).
An oil on canvas, it measures 30 by 24 5/8 inches and is dated
1888. It has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for
Lot 145, "La Route d'Auvers,
Pontoise," is a nice landscape by Camille Pissarro (1830-1903).
An oil on canvas, it measures 15 1/8 by 18 1/8 inches and is dated
1879. It has a estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for
The cover illustration of the
catalogue is Lot 330, "Suzanne au Bain," a large painting
of a female nude by Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980). Painted around
1938, it is an oil on canvas that measures 35 3/8 by 23 5/8 inches.
de Lempicka's works have escalated dramatically in auction values
in recent years and this lot has an ambitious estimate of $700,000
to $900,000. While it is quite painterly, it does not have the
elegant beauty of her best Art Deco-like works. It sold for
Lot 261 is a nice watercolor
and pencil on paper mounted on paper with yellow border by Paul
Klee (1879-1940). It measures 6 3/4 by 7 7/8 inches and was executed
in 1919. It has an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold
Lot 254 is a good floral watercolor
on paper by Emil Nolde (1867-1956). Executed circa 1913, it measures
12 by 17 7/8 inches. It has an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000.
It sold for $144,000.
Lot 315 is a very good gouache,
ink and colored crayon on paper by Joan Miró (1893-1983).
It measures 27 3/4 by 41 3/8 inches and was executed in 1973.
It has an impressive frame and an estimate of $220,000 to $280,000.
It sold for $262,400.
The sale total was $41,831,400
and about 75 percent of the offered lots were sold.