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Impressionist & Modern Art

Sotheby's

7 PM, November 7, 2006

Sale 8239

"Locomotive" by Feininger

Lot 32, "Locomotive," by Lyonel Feininger, oil on canvas, 17 1/4 by 32 inches, 1908

By Carter B. Horsley

Although there are no blockbuster masterpieces in the Fall 2006 evening auction of Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby's November 7, 2006, there are a lot of very good works including a wonderful Lyonel Feninger, an excellent early work by Maurice de Vlaminck, a superb work by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, a good Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a stunning double-sided work by Erich Heckel, a great Edouard Vuillard, two nice works by Amedeo Modigliani, representative works by Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh, and three excellent works by Pablo Picasso.

The auction was successful with 86.8 percent of the 83 offered lots selling for a total of $238,670,400 including the buyer's premiums. The presale estimates, exclusive of buyer's premiums, ranged from $219,600,000 to $299,800,000. David Norman, the co-chair of the Impressionist & Modern Art Department at Sotheby's, said after the auction that was the highest auction sale at Sotheby's since 1990. Records were set for Ernst Heckel, Lynn Chadwick and Barbara Hepworth. He said that there was some participation by Russian buyers and he noted that Impressionist paintings, which had fallen off a bit in recent years, appeared to be rebounding somewhat. Mr. Norman also observed that some works that had been on the market recently did very well giving lie to the dictum that such works need to be off the market for several years before being offered again.

The frontispiece of the catalogue is Lot 32, "Locomotive," by Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956), an oil on canvas that measures 17 1/4 by 32 inches and was painted in Paris in 1908. It has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $2,144,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. Describing this painting as one of the artist's "rare and remarkable early works," the catalogue entry notes that "the various elements overlap in a way that suggests the notion of distance, while at the same time forming a manifestly flat surface." "The choice of a vivid palette and striking tonal contrasts, as well as the sharp, bright outlining of the individual features that appear to be pasted onto the surface of the picture are all derived from Feininger's experience as an illustrator. The artist's characteristic caricature-style treatment of figures is evident here in the rendering of the man in the foreground, whose exaggeratedly foreshortened features create an overstated sense of movement and perspective," the catalogue maintained. The artist's heirs own two other "Locomotive" paintings by Feininger that are reproduced in the catalogue.

"Sacha Guity Dans Sa Loge" by Vuillard

Lot 34, "Sacha Guitry Dans Sa Loge," by Edouard Vuillard, pastel on paper laid down on board, 29 by 37 7/8 inches, 1911-2

Lot 34 is a spectacular pastel on paper laid down on board by Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940) entitled "Sacha Guitry Dans Sa Loge." The work, which has been consigned by Sir Sean Connery, measures 29 by 37 7/8 inches and was executed in 1911-1912. It sold at Sotheby's in New York May 13, 1998 for $607,500 when it had an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. The estimate for this auction is $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $968,000, setting an auction record for a work on paper by the artist. Guitry was a popular boulevardier and writer of comedies and a good friend of Vuillard who gave him this painting as a gift. Vuillard's composition and palette here are unusual and superb. This is worthy of a major museum's collection. Vuillard, one of the Nabis, is best known for his soft and subtle works, mostly interiors, and this is exceedingly vibrant for his oeuvre.

"Maris Mirando Los Peces, Granja" by Sorolla

Lot 11, "Maria Mirando Los Peces, Granja," by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, oil on canvas, 31 7/8 by 41 3/4 inches, 1907

Lot 11 is a marvelous painting by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida. Entitled "Maria Mirando Los Peces, Granja," it is an oilon canvas that measures 31 7/8 by 41 3/4 inches and was executed in 1907. The artist depicts his daughter watching fish in a pool in the gardens of the palace of La Granja near San Ildefonso in Segovia and it was executed while he was working on portraits of the King and Queen of Spain. This magnificent work holds its own against the best of John Singer Sargent and Anders Zorn, "both of whom," the catalogue entry notes, "Sorolla knew and admired." It is a great composition with a very rich palette and fabulous highlights in the water. It has a modest estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $3,260,000.

"Akt (Dresden)" by Heckel "Stilleben Mit Pflanzen" by Heckel

Lot 31, "Akt (Dresden)(Nude-Dresden), left, and "Stilleben Mit Pflanzen (Still Life with Plants)," double-sided painting by Erich Heckel, both 30 1/2 by 28 1/2 inches, left was painted in oil in 1910 and the right painted in tempera in 1920

Lot 31 is a very strong double-sided work by Erich Heckel (1883-1970). One side is a nude female that was painted in oil in 1910 and the other a still life painted in tempera in 1920. The work measures 30 1/2 by 28 1/2 inches. It has a modest estimate of $2,400,000 to $3,200,000. It sold for $3,600,000, a world auction record for the artist. The catalogue reproduces a very similar nude by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner that is also dated to 1910 and notes that the two artists painted "a series of significant studies of nudes in their Dresden stduio which have become icons of the Expressionist movement," adding that "The rooms in the Brücke studio at 65 Berliner Strasse in Dresden were filled with items of furniture, woodcarvings, and painted lengths of cloth executed mainly by Kirchner. One of those painted cloths is mostly likely shown in the background" of the Heckel nude in this lot.

"La Sortie du Bain" by Degas

Lot 12, "La Sortie du Bain," by Edgar Degas, pastel on paper, 30 3/4 by 31 1/8 inches, circa 1900-1905

One could almost tire of Edgar Degas's ballet dancers and women in their baths, but Lot 12, "La Sortie du Bain," a pastel on paper that measures 30 3/4 by 31 1/8 inches, is an exceptional fine work by Degas. It is very sketchy, but signed. While one could quibble that the woman's right arm is awkward and that her right foot is ill-defined and that her left leg seems to be unresolved and reworked, this is a vibrant work that conveys a sense of movement and is a great composition with an unusually good palette. One senses that Degas stopped in mid-stream, stood back, and did not want to add another stroke. The lot has a very conservative estimate of $1,600,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $1,584,000.

"La Partie de Cartes" by Toulouse-Lautrec

Lot 7, "La Partie de Cartes," by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, oil and peinture à l'essence on board, 22 1/2 by 18 inches, 1893

One of the greatest artists in history, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) used the sketchy techniques of an illustrator with a fabulous palette to illuminate his interest in the psychological moods and attitudes of the demi-monde. Lot 7, "La Partie de Cartes," an oil and peinture à l'essence on board that measures 22 1/2 by 18 inches, is a fine example of his series of scenes from the maisons closes (brothels) in Paris between 1892 and 1895. The catalogue entry notes that the artist observed the prostitutes "meticulously in their leisure time, at their toilette, at breakfast, or waiting for customers. The women's naturalness appealed to Lautrec: 'Models always look as if they were stuffed; these women are alive. I wouldn't dare pay them to pose for me, yet God knows they're worth it. They stretch themselves out on the divans like animals...they're so lacking in pretention.'" The lot has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It sold for $8,528,000.

"A Pair of Shoes" by Van Gogh

Lot 24, "A Pair of Shoes," by Vincent Van Gogh, oil on canvas, 14 3/4 by 18 inches, 1886-7

One of the iconic images of Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) is a pair of shoes. Lot 24 is one of five existing examples completed between 1886 and 1887 and the only one in private hands. An oil on canvas, it measures 14 3/4 by 18 inches and was painted in 1886-7. It has a modest estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000. It sold for $8,976,000. Two of the other four examples are at the Riksmuseum in Amsterdam and the others are at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University and the Cone Collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art. "These splendid paintings, along with his series of sunflowers, are regarded as Van Gogh's most successful still-lifes and have to be regarded the artist's signature works," the catalogue entry notes.

"Paysage aux Toits Rouges" by Vlaminck

Lot 79, "Paysage aux Toits Rouges," by Maurice de Vlaminck, oil on canvas, 25 1/2 by 31 7/8 inches, 1907

For too many years the drab later works by Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958) would appear on the auction block leading the casual observer to the conclusion that he was a boring painter with a dark and uninteresting green and black palette. Fortunately, recently some of his great early works have been appearing and Lot 79, "Paysage aux Toits Rouges," is a superb work. An oil on canvas that measures 25 1/2 by 31 7/8 inches, it was painted in 1907 and has a very conservative estimate of $700,000 to $1,000,000 as it is better than the vast majority of landscapes by Paul Cézanne. It sold for $1,360,000.

"Nature Morte Aux Fruits et Pot de Gingembre" by Cézanne

Lot 18, "Nature Morte Aux Fruits et Pot de Gingembre," by Paul Cézanne, oil on canvas, 18 1/4 by 24 1/8 inches, circa 1895

Just about everyone wants a Cézanne (1839-1906) still life so it is not surprisingly that the highest estimate for a work in this auction is Lot 18 for an 1895 still life by the artist. The rather ambitious estimate for the unsigned oil on canvas that measures 18 1/4 by 24 1/8 inches is $28,000,000 to $35,000,000. It sold for $36,976,000. The fruit in the lower half of the painting is strong and well done, but the background is very sketchy. The catalogue entry, however, is, not suprisingly, enthusiastic: "Cézanne's magnificent Nature Morte aux fruits det pot de gingembre is a feast for the senses. All of the elements of the composition are fresh and enticing, and Cézanne invites us to savor them as he leads our eye across the canvas.....This glorious picture dates from 1895, when Cézanne's radical experimentations with perspective and color were at their most spophisticated.....Cézanne's still-lifes, particularly those comleted in the mid-1890s, are considered the harbingers of 20th century modernism, and their influence was the driving force behind the Cubist compositions of Braque and Picasso." The lot was consigned by William Acquavella who had acquired it at Christie's in London six years ago for about $18 million.

"Starnberger See" by Kandinsky

Lot 27, "Starnberger See (Lake Starnberg)," by Wassily Kandinsky, oil on board laid down on cradled panel, 24 7/8 by 38 inches, 1908

Lot 27 is an impressive and bold landscape by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) that is entitled "Starnberger See (Lake Starnberg)." It is an oil on board laid down on cradled panel that measures 24 7/8 by 38 inches and was executed in 1908. The lot has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It sold for $9,088,000.

"La Plage à Trouville" by Monet

Lot 9, "La Plage à Trouville," by Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 18 7/8 by 29 inches, 1870

Lot 9, "La Plage à Trouville," an oil on canvas by Claude Monet ( 1840-1926) that measures 18 7/8 by 29 inches, is a pleasant beach scene that was executed in 1870 while Monet was at Trouville with Eugene Boudin whose beach scenes were more impressionistic and lovelier. This work was once in the collection of William and Edith Goetz of New York and has an ambitious estimate of $16,500,000 to $20,000,000. It was passed at $15,250,000. The catalogue entry notes that Monet and Boudin "sometimes painted side-by-side at Trouville that summer." "The present painting is the larger of the two horizontal versions of this view of Trouville that Monet created, and the other version...(Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut) depicts the beach at low tide.

"Le Fils du Concierge" by Modigliani

Lot 38, "Le Fils du Concierge," by Amedeo Modigliani, oil on canvas, 36 1/8 by 23 1/2 inches, 1918

Lot 38 is a classic portrait by Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) that is entitled "Le Fils du Concierge." An oil on canvas, it measures 36 1/8 by 23 1/2 inches and was executed in 1918. It is the catalogue's cover illustration and has an estimate of $14,000,000 to $18,000,000, which is perhaps a bit ambitious because the work is a bit bland although the catalogue entry observes that "this arresting image of the son of a local concierge is one of the most transfixing in all of the artist's portraits," adding that "The palette of soft colors confers a feeling of tranquility on the painting, while the eyes of the sittter convey an ineffable sense of melancholy." It sold for $31,096,00 in a very drawn out bidding in which Tobias Meyer raised bids in increments of about $250,000 after it had reached the $10 million plateau. Mr. Norman remarked after the auction that this work had sold for about $5.5 million at auction in 1997.

"Paul Guillaume" by Modigliani

Lot 54, "Paul Guillaume," by Amedeo Modigliani, oil on board laid down on cradled panel, 20 3/4 by 14 1/2 inches, 1916

Lot 54 is a very good portrait of Paul Guillaume by Modigliani. An oil on board laid down on cradled panel, it measures 20 3/4 by 14 1/2 inches and was painted in 1916. It has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It was once in the collection of Harold and Ruth Uris who sold it November 13, 1996 at Christie's in New York for $3,100,000 when it was acquired by the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas, which sold it November 9, 2000 at Sotheby's in New York for $4,625,000. It sold for $4,832,000.

"Le Fumeur" by Picasso

Lot 42, "Le Fumeur," by Pablo Picasso, oil on panel, 39 3/8 by 31 7/8 inches, 1953

In recent years, many works by Pablo Picasso (1881-1971) have soared to astronomical prices that had little to do with their artistic merit, which is not to say that they were worthless but only greatly overvalued much like many of the works that have come to auction by Andy Warhol. The two artists are unquestionably great and prolific, but they were are also quite uneven. This auction, however, has several superlative works by Picasso.

Lot 42, for example, is a large and wonderful painting of a seated man smoking. It is entitled "Le Fumeur" and is an oil on panel that measures 39 3/8 by 31 7/8 inches and was executed in 1953. It has an estimate of $9,000,000 to $12,000,000. It sold for $10,650,000. The catalogue entry for this lot notes that the work "can be read as an insightful combination of both ego and romantic preoccupation" and that "with its sharp-edged modelling and highly linear figuration, can be seen as Picasso's aesthetic response to" Matisse.

"Le Sauvetage" by Picasso

Lot 47, "Le Sauvetage," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 31 7/8 by 39 3/8 inches, 1932

Lot 47, "Le Sauvetage," is an excellent example of Picasso's fabulous compositional skills. An oil on canvas that measures 31 7/8 by 39 3/8 inches, it was painted in 1932. It has an estimate of $12,000,000 to $16,000,000. It was passed at $10,750,000, but Mr. Norman said after the auction that even before the auction was over there were inquiries about the painting. He said it was the only work in the auction that had a "guaranty" for the seller. A similar but less compacted composition of ball players and a woman being rescued in the water from the same year sold at Sotheby's in New York May 6, 2004 for $14,792,000. It depicted, however, a less harrowing beach scene.

"In the present work," the catalogue observed, "Picasso includes both motifs, confronting his viewer with the contrast between the graceful arabesques of the ballplayers and the unexpected tragedy of the rescue group. Instead of separating the motifs to different sides of the canvas, Picasso presents them layered upon each other, increasing the intensity of this particular moment on the beach. That the features of the figures in the rescue group are based on those of Marie-Thérèse adds a particularly poignant note to the composition. It is also noteworthy that the open mouth and streaming hair of the figure of the rescuer prefigure Guernica."

Lot 64 is a light-hearted depicture of a man with a moustache that Picasso executed in 1970. An oil on panel, it measures 50 3/4 by 25 5/8 inches and has a modest estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It was passed at $1,700,000. The work is very bright and very merry.

Still Life by Picasso

Lot 36, Still life, by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 6 3/8 by 8 5/8 inches, 1937

Another fine Picasso is Lot 36, a small still life that is mesmerizing. an oil on canvas, it measures 6 3/8 by 8 5/8 inches and was painted in 1937. It has a modest estimate of $350,000 to $450,000. It sold for $800,000. The catalogue notes that when it was reproduced in David Douglas Duncan's book, Picasso's Picassos, in 1961 the work was unsigned, but observes that "the signature on the present picture must have been added by the artist when it left his studio after 1961."

"Nature Morte à la Ray" by Soutine

Lot 29, "Nature Morte à la Ray," by Chaim Soutine, oil on canvas, 36 by 32 inches, circa 1923-4

Lot 29 is an impressive and important still life with a ray by Chaim Soutine (1893-1943). It is one of four versions and the only one still in private hands. The other versions are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Cleveland Museum and Musée Calvet in Avignon. An oil on canvas, it measures 36 by 32 inches and was executed circa 1923-4. "This powerful image has captured the attention of spectators over the last century, and like Soutine's paintings of beef carcasses, it has become one of the icons of modern art," the catalogue entry maintained. It was once owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It sold for $5,392,000.

"Paysanne Rattachant Sa Marmotte" by Pissarro

Lot 3, "Paysanne Rattachant Sa Marmotte," by Camille Pissarro, gouache on silk laid down on board, 21 1/2 by 15 inches, 1882

Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) painted many pictures of peasant women and Lot 3, "Paysanne Rattachant Sa Marmotte," a gouache on silk laid down on board that measures 21 1/2 by 15 inches, may well be the loveliest. This splendid 1882 work is very impressionistic and could well be mistaken as a masterpiece by Renoir given the brilliance of the women's blue and white sleeves and the palette of the composition. This late has a conservative estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $912,000.

"Peinture" by Miró

Lot 62, "Peinture," by Joan Miró, oil and gesso on gouged and burned masonite, 42 1/2 by 21 1/4 inches, 1953

Joan Miró painted a variety of surfaces and Lot 62, "Peinture," is a stunning work by him, an oil and gesso on gouged and burned masonite. It measures 42 1/2 by 21 1/4 inches and was executed in 1953. It was formerly in the collections of G. David Thompson, Alfred H. Barr Jr., and the Museum of Modern Art. It has a modest estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $1,920,000.

"Figure Decorative" by Matisse

Lot 25, "Figure Decorative," by Henri Matisse, bronze, 28 2/4 inches high, conceived in Paris in 1908 and cast in 1950

Lot 25, "Figure Decorative" is a bronze sculpture of a naked woman by Henri Matisse (1869-1954) that was conceived in Paris in 1908 and cast in 1950. It is one of 11 casts. The original 1908 cast is in the collection of The Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Casts from 1954 are in the collection of the St. Louis City Art Museum and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen has a 1952 cast. The Nasher Collection in Dallas has a 1930 cast. Casts from 1950, 1952 and 1957 are still in private collections. One of the 1952 casts was sold at Sotheby's May 10, 2001 for $12,655,750. This work, which is numbered 3, was sold at Sotheby's in New York May 8, 2002 for $8,259,000. The lot has an ambitious estimate of $12,000,000 to $18,000,000 considering how many examples exist and that fact that it is not particularly beautiful nor impressive. It sold for $12,896,000.

See The City Review article on the Spring 2006 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2006 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2005 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Impresssionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's November 2, 2005

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern evening sale at Sotheby's in the Spring, 2005

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction in the Fall, November, 2005

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Sotheby's November 5, 2004

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's May 4, 2004

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Christie's May 5, 2004

See The City Review article on the May 5, 2004 evening auction at Sotheby's of Property of the Greentree Foundation from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's May 6, 2004

See The City Review article on the Spring 2004 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Sotheby's

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

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