By Carter B. Horsley
This day sale of Impressionist and Modern Art
is highlighted by a strong work by Georges Roualt, a couple of
nice still lifes by Odile Rédon, an interesting work by
Salvador Dalí that adorns the catalogue cover, a very nice
watercolor by Wassily Kandinsky, some good works by Giorgio de
Chirico, a fine André Masson, some Joan Mirós, some
Jean Metzingers and the usual smattering of Pablo Picassos, Fernand
Légers, Henry Moores, Raoul Dufys and the like.
Lot 299, "Acrobat XIII," is a gouache
on paper laid down on canvas, 41 1/4 by 29 inches, dated 1913,
by Georges Roualt (1871-1958). This large work, shown above, was
formerly in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Henry J. Heinz II and
has a high estimate of $350,000. It failed to sell. Although
its muted palette of black, grays, browns and blues is not as
rich as some of his other works, the composition of two figures
is very strong with two figures despite some strange lines in
the left leg of the full-length figure. The gouache is very painterly
and brings to mind the better works of Matisse and Picasso. Unlike
many of the artists oils, which have a textural richness
that encrusts them with dignity, this gouache has an impressive
fluidity that that is dynamic and dramatic. Lot 456, in fact,
is a very strong and vibrant Roualt of a man on a horse that is
a 17-by-13-inch oil on paper, mounted on card, laid down on canvas.
It has a conservative high estimate of $60,000. It sold for
While it is easy to think of the first decade
or so of the 20th Century as the era of the Cubists, the Fauves
and the Futurists, artists like Roualt and Odile Rédon
(1840-1916) were applying the freer techniques to representational
works with great individuality. Rédon, of course, is best
known for his lush, jewelly, poetic, mystical, Symbolist paintings,
but his still lifes are also highly prized. This auction has two
good examples, Lots 229 and 239. The former, "Vase de Coquelicots,"
is a 21 1/2-by-25 3/4-inch oil on canvas, painted 1905-9 that
was formerly in the collections of Mr. and Mrs. Leigh B. Block
of Chicago and Leonard N. Stern. It depicts a blue vase with flowers
floating in a yellow-beige background and has a high estimate
of $600,000. It failed to sell. The latter, "Bouquet
de Fleurs," is a 25 1/4-by-19-inch oil on canvas executed
between 1903 and 1905. A more colorful work, it was formerly in
the collection of John Quinn, a major collector of modern art
in New York, and has a high estimate of $800,000. It failed
The cover illustration, Lot 388, "Eclipse
et Osmose Vegetale," a 25 3/4-by-20-inch oil on canvas, dated
1934, by Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) is a very good, somber
example of this Surrealists work as it shows a scrawny white
horse with branches growing out of his body standing next to a
tree with a solitary man standing far away in the distance. The
paintings first owner, Aubrey Janion, became a member of
a group of the artists friends who would financially support
him for a month and when asked by the artist to choose a painting
the catalogue notes that "he replied that being an old
cavalry soldier he would like a horse. Simple and stark
and typically irrational, this is a good Dalí and has a
high estimate of $800,000. It sold for $607,000.
Another excellent Dalí is Lot 420, "Southern
California," a watercolor, gouache, pen and ink, pencil and
collage on paper, 14 7/8 by 11 3/4 inches. This colorful and intricate
work has a conservative high estimate of $60,000. It sold for
Kandinsky (1866-1944), of course, is one the
few artists that rarely is off and Lot 331, "Vibrierend,"
shown above, is a beautiful watercolor and pen and India ink on
paper mounted on card, 14 1/4 by 13 1/4 inches, dated 1928. The
catalogue notes that the title of this work, which means "vibrating,"
refers to the artists "attempt to combine his abstract
vocabulary of geometric shapes and lines to achieve a resonance
with the viewer, a universal vibration similar to a musical chord."
It has a high estimate of $300,000. It sold for $354,500.
Another, later and darker Kandinsky, Lot 233, a gouache on black
paper mounted on card, 19 1/2 by 10 inches, has a high estimate
of $150,000. It sold for $134,500.
Sculptures by Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
are often stronger works than his paintings, at least in terms
of their modeling. Lot 390, "Il Poeta Solitario," for
example, is a very good 20-inch-high bronze, number 3/9, executed
in 1970 that has a conservative high estimate of $60,000. It
sold for $74,000. Lot 418, "Il Grande Metafisico,"
is a slightly smaller and brighter work that is not quite as powerful,
executed the same year and number 9/9. It has a high estimate
of only $40,000 and both lots are stunning sculptures. It sold
for $46,000. There are also three paintings by the artist
in the auction, the best of which is Lot 416, "Piazza dItalia
con Cavallo," a 17 3/4 by 21 3/4 inch oil on canvas that
has a high estimate of $80,000, a pleasant minor work. It sold
Lot 398 is an interesting oil on canvas, 51
by 63 3/4 inches entitled "Les Parques," dated 1961
by André Masson (1896-1987) that is being deaccessioned
by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Three figures are
discernible in the strong calligraphic brushwork and the lot has
a conservative high estimate of $45,000. It sold for $79,500.
Lot 370 is a 36 1/4-by-28 3/4-inch oil on canvas,
entitled "Personnage Dans La Nuit," by Joan Miró
(1893-1983) that is bold in composition although a little weak
in execution. It is dated "X.77" and has an ambitious
high estimate of $700,000. It sold for $640,500. Far stronger
and more spirited is Lot 363, "Figure Devant Le Soleil,"
pastel, gouache and charcoal on paper, 26 3/8 by 20 1/8 inches,
dated Barcelona, 28-12-1942. This work, also being deaccessioned
by the Hirshhorn, has a conservative high estimate of $300,000.
It sold for $173,000. Another Miró is Lot 362, "Personnages,"
signed and dated 1949, a 6 3/4-by-31-inch oil on canvas with four
of his famously whimsical figures. It has a high estimate of $400,000.
It sold for $387,500.
A more difficult but quite interesting Miró
is Lot 368, "Personnage," a 25-by-34 1/2-inch brush
and India ink and paper collage on a map of Barcelona. This quite
stunning work has a conservative high estimate of $150,000. It
A lovely and unusual gouache by Paul Klee (1879-1940)
is Lot 328, "Sieht Hell (Brilliant Sight)," 13 by 8
1/4 inches on paper, dated 1933. It is a head of a man depicted
in a limited and muted palette of blues, grays and yellows and
done in a palette knife style. It has a high estimate of only
$60,000. It sold for $48,300.
A good, typical gouache on paper, 19 1/2 by
25 5/8 inches, by Léger is Lot 374, "Les Plongeurs,"
painted circa 1942. It has a high estimate of $120,000. It
sold for $85,000. A larger Léger is Lot 377, "Deux
Oiseaux Dans Les Fleurs," a 74 1/2-by-106 3/4-inch gouache
on paper, executed circa 1950. The catalogue notes that "only
two tapestries were executed based on the present work, one of
which is in the collection of the Musée Léger, Biot."
This lot has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for
There are numerous works by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
in the auction and the most attractive is Lot 401, "Le Homard
Dans Un Panier," a 35-by-45 3/4-inch oil on canvas, executed
in 1965. The painting of a blue lobster in a pan is being sold
by the Ira and Leonore Gershwin Philanthropic Fund and was formerly
in the collection of Norman Grantz. It has an estimate of $700,000
to $900,000. It sold for $772,500.
Other good paintings include Lot 259, "Voiliers
Sur LOise," a pleasant Impressionist river scene by
Gustave Loiseau (1865-1935) that is being deaccessioned by the
Detroit Institute of Arts and has a high estimate only $80,000,
and which sold for $200,500; Lot 297, a good, large oil
by Chaim Soutine (1894-1943) of a man praying that has an estimate
of $300,000 to $500,000, and which sold for $607,500; Lot
309, a slight but very good drawing of a man in a hat by Amedeo
Modigliani (1884-1920) that has a high estimate of $40,000, and
which was passed; Lot 313, a good Cubist landscape of 1924
by David Burliuk (1882-1967) that has a high estimate of $45,000,
and which was passed; Lot 314, a stunning abstraction by
Georges Valmier (1885-1937) that has a high estimate of $120,000,
and which sold for $123,500; Lot 316, a beautiful, small
abstract sculpture in white marble by Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
that was executed in 1935-6 and has a high estimate of $150,000,
and which sold for $288,500; Lot 381, another Hepworth,
this time a brass and string sculpture that has a high estimate
of $60,000, and which sold for $93,250; Lot 361, a very
pleasant still life mostly in greens and grays by Georges Braque
(1882-1963) that has a high estimate of only $300,000, and
which passed; Lot 397, "Rives dAmour," a nice
blue gouache, chalk and pastel on paper by Marc Chagall (1887-1985)
that has a high estimate of $350,000, and which sold for $387,500;
Lot 422, a charming and decorative large horizontal oil by Raoul
Dufy (1877-1953) that has a high estimate of $150,000, and
which was brought in; and Lot 442, a scene in the Luxembourg
Gardens in Paris by Balthus (b. 1908) that has a high estimate
of only $150,000, and which was sold for $178,500.
Slightly less than 80 percent of the lots