day sale of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie's May 8,
2002, has many excellent and interesting works by some important
artists whose work rarely appears at auction such as Honoré
Daumier (1808-1879) and Henri Rousseau (Le Douanier) and some
fine examples of work by such artists of Joan Miró (1893-1983),
Paul Klee (1879-1940), Jean (Hans) Arp (1887-1966), Pablo Picasso
(1881-1973), Paul Gauguin (1843-1903), (1844-1910), Emile-Othon
Friesz (1879-1949), Raymond Duchamp-Villon (1876-1918), Georges
Braque (1882-1963), Ben Nicholson (1894-1982), and Giorgio de
"Le Premier Bain," is a lovely, small oil on panel,
only 5 7/8 by 9 inches, by Daumier and according to Karl-Eric
Maison's 1968 catalogue raisonné on the artist is the first
oil sketch for the first two versions of the baignade series that
Daumier worked on between 1852 and 1855. According to the catalogue
entry for this lot, Maison "suggests that the finishing touches
of this picture may possible be the additions of later another
hand." This work, signed with initials, has a quite modest
estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It was unfortunately withdrawn
after the catalogue was published. While well known as a caricaturist,
Daumier is a great painter and this is a strong and lively composition
with fine brushwork.
"Paysage avec usine," by Henri Rousseau (Le Douanier),
is a very pleasant, 15-by-18-inch oil on canvas, circa 1896-1906.
The asymmetrical composition is greatly enlivened by the slightly
curving paths in the lower half of the work and the wisps of smoke
from the factory's chimneys in the top. This work has a modest
estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $361,500 including
the buyer's premium as do all prices mentioned in this article.
(This season both Christie's and Sotheby's raised their seller's
fees to 19.5 percent for the first $100,000 and 10 percent above
The catalogue entry provide the following commentary:
"The [landscape] views are often nondescript and hardly picturesque;
nevertheless, much of the poetic charm and serene timelessness
of these scenes stems from the banality of his motifs. He was
partial to gray, working glass neighborhood sand held no aversion
to dingy factory buildings and warehouses. The Impressionists
usually avoided such signs of the industrial revolution in their
landscapes, although Seurat and the many of his Neo-Impressionist
followers, man of whom held anarchist and socialist political
views, felt an moral obviation to be truthful to the reality of
their surroundings while Rousseau shared these sympathies, he
followed no agenda, and the appearance of the factory smokestack
in the present painting, emerging from behind a small grove of
trees, seems perfectly natural and matter-of-fact, no more or
less so than the presence of a stroller, a horse or a dog. The
great imaginary jungle landscapes for which Rousseau is most famous
present a dense and impenetrable world in which half-hidden and
mysterious dramas unfold. His suburban landscapes, on the other
hand, show a world that is entirely open to the viewer's gaze,
with wide spaces and distant vistas under large and usually cloudless
skies (the artist is careful to show a gray urban haze on the
horizon, further evidence of the encroachment of modern industry)."
The auction has two very good works by Miró, Lots 329 and
358, and one very pleasant one, Lot 143.
"Femme devant le soleil," is an oil on canvas, 9 1/2
by 7 1/2 inches, painted in 1938. It is the cover illustration
of the catalogue and has a very conservative estimate of $200,000
to $300,000 as it is very strong despite its small size. It
sold for $713,500.
What is striking about this work is the cloud-like object at the
left center, which has much more dimensionality and depth than
one is accustomed to seeing in Miró's work, the use of
white dots to highlight the back of the women's skirt and the
A more mirthful figure can be found in Lot 358, "Femme,"
an oil, enamel and oil stick on canvas by Miró that measures
39 3/8 by 31 7/8 inches. This 1976 work shows a woman as "an
ideogram comprised of sweeping gestural lines," according
to the catalogue, which added that "This reductionist tendency
in Miró's imagery is not new and was present during his
association with Surrealism in the 1920s and 1930s. However, in
the 1960s Miró began to cultivate a more wild, expressionist
aspect in his depiction of the figure, which to some extent was
influenced by the work of the American abstract-expressionists,
whose work Miró had seen and admired during visits to the
United States in 1947 and 1959."
This lot has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for
There are several other lots by Miró of which perhaps the
nicest is Lot 143, "Graphisme-poème," an oil,
watercolor, pen and black ink over pencil on paper, 26 1/4 by
37 1/2 inches. This work was executed in 1952 and has an estimate
of $250,000 to $350,000. It failed to sell. Miró
was deeply involved with poetry and often scattered words about
his pictures and this one has a lovely resonance and delicacy
in its quirky but charming scene.
Perhaps the boldest work in the auction is Lot 253, "La baie
du Bec d'Aigle," by Emile-Othon Friesz, shown at the top
of this article. The 18 1/8-by-21 5/8-inch oil on canvas was executed
in 1907 and is a swirling scene of a windswept bay with very bright
colors. It was painted by Friesz while on a trip to the Mediterranean
with Georges Braque. "Whereas they had previously centered
their activities on the port of L'Estaque, a suburb of Marseilles,"
the catalogue noted, "they chose this time to settle in La
Ciotat, a small town located further up the coast. The port at
La Ciotat was an active center for building and outfitting ships.
While their paintings from La Ciotat initially focused on the
motifs in the harbor, as they had done in L'Estaque, the two artists
subsequently drew inspiration from the rugged terrain of the coastline.
Working side by side, the two artists painted views of the chalky
cliffs, wooded recesses and paths, inlets and beaches surrounding
This is a superb Fauve work and modern art really doesn't get
much more exciting than the best work of the Fauves.
It has a very conservative estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It
sold for $229,500.
similar works to Friesz's Lot 288 but he moved on to Cubism and
Lot 288, "Grand Composition à la contrebasse,"
is a very subtle, refined and excellent Cubist painting by him.
Measuring 78 1/2 by 39 1/2 inches, this oil and charcoal on canvas
was painted between 1912 and 1917 and has a conservative estimate
of $200,000 to $300,000. It is very elegant. It sold for $202,000.
Of a similar
temperament, albeit much smaller, is Lot 340, "Still Life,"
by Ben Nicholson (1894-1982), an oil and pencil on board, 13 1/2
by 15 1/4 inches, executed in 1946. With its limited but lovely
palette and delicate lines it has a conservative estimate of $70,000
to $90,000. It sold for $158,000.
There are some very nice works on paper in the auction.
perhaps is Lot 112, "Stehendes Mädchen nach links mit
nacktem Oberkörper, Hosen, 'Ball-Entrée,'" by
Gustav Klimt, a 21 3/4-by-13 3/4-inch pencil on buff paper drawing
drawn in 1904-6. The catalogue notes that the costume of the dancer
in the drawing "may have been influenced by the fanciful
and titillating designs seen in Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations
for Aristophanes's Lysistrata, published in 1896,"
adding that "Klimt had depicted Hermine Gallia in a more
discrete version of this attire in the portrait he made of her
in 1903-1904. The model here wears a filmy headdress known as
a ball-entrée. She is very likely the English girl who
appears in series of drawings also done around this time, which
feature her districtive profile."
This lovely drawing has a conservative estimate of $50,000 to
$70,000. It failed to sell.
in Klimt's exquisite drawing is very beautiful and sensual and
would be a fine foil to Lot 116, "Homme et femme," a
12 1/4-by-8 1/8-inch pen and ink on buff paper laid down on board,
a 1901 drawing by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).
After a successful exhibition at Ambrose Vollard's gallery in
Paris in 1901, Picasso did some illustrations of dance hall performers
for a magazine called Frou-Frou but was reluctant to sign
his name to them because of the new success of his exhibition
and signed them with his father's name, Ruiz.
"The present drawing," the catalogue notes, "also
carries the Ruiz signature (the artist signed it again at a later
date)[with Picasso], and may have been intended for publication
as an illustration in a Paris journal. With its clear indication
of a Montmartre setting in the background, the drawing has the
character of a complete and self-contained composition beyond
that usually seen in his sketches. The anecdote to which the artist
is referring is unclear, but as is so often the case in Picasso's
early works, it is likely autobiographical. The features of the
young man in the workman's smock show the board base of the nose
and widely spaced eyes with which Picasso often depicted himself.
The identity of the female figure is unknown. She seems older
than Germaine, the girl over whom Picasso's friend Casagemas had
killed himself in February and Picasso then took as his own companion
when he returned to Paris."
This drawing has an estimate of $120,000 to $160,000. It failed
the most startling work in the auction is Lot 115, "Dorf
bei Bern," by Paul Klee, a watercolor and tempera over pencil
on paper laid down by the artist on board, 4 3/4 by 8 7/8 inches.
Executed in 1912 this is a very bold and interesting work and
has a modest estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for $113,525.
shown above, is an extremely fine and sensuous black marble and
cement sculpture by Jean (Hans) Arp. Executed in 1950, this unique
work is 34 5/8 inches high, not counting its base. This superb
work has a modest estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold
intriguing work is Lot 203, "Pot en forme d'une tête
grotesque," by Paul Gauguin, a glazed earthenware piece with
a "grosteque" head, 8 1/8 inches high, executed circa
The catalogue notes that Gauguin made very few stoneware sculptures
in Paris such as this, the Square Vase with Tahitian Gods and
Oviri. Only two examples exist of the present work, according
to the catalogue, and there are three identical versions of the
This lot has a conservative estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It
sold for $229,500.
"Il Trovetore," is a classic "mannequin" work
by Giorgio de Chirico. An oil on canvas that measures 23 1/2 by
19 3/4 inches, it was executed circa 1950 and 1955 and has a modest
estimate of $180,000 to $200,000. It sold for $295,500.
motif is also evident in "Femme assise," Lot 282, a
very fine bronze sculpture with black patina by Raymond Duchamp-Villon.
Conceived in 1914 and cast in the 1950s it has a modest estimate
of $120,000 to $160,000. It sold for $1,439,500!
In 1911, Raymond Duchamp-Villon and his brothers, Marcel Duchamp
and Jacques Villon held weekly meetings of artists including Jean
Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Robert Delaunay, Roger de la Fresnaye,
Juan Gris, Fernand Léger and Alexander Archipenko in the
Paris suburb of Puteaux and the following year they exhibited
as the Section d'Or at the Galerie de la Boétie in what
the catalogue called "the culmination of the Cubist movement,
after which these artists took separate paths in their stylistic
"Despite his immersion in the pre-war Cubist milieu, however,
Duchamp-Villon's sculpture owes little to the Cubist paintings
of his contemporaries. Like his brother Marcel, he was too individualistic
and independent. He was self-taught as a sculptor, and early I
his career he assimilated the influence of Rodin, Gauguin, Maillol
and Matisse. He developed a taste for a classically clear and
balanced form. The complex planar facture of Cubist painting was
largely alien to his outlook," the catalogue entry observed,
adding that this lot "appears to have been derived from the
jointed wooden mannequin used by painters and sculptors as a basic
guide to the forms and rhythms of the body."
"With his preference for ovoid and rounded shapes, which
most angular shapes have been smoothed over and all surface detail
eliminated, Duchamp-Villon looks past Cubism to a streamlined
machine aesthetic. Such mechanical elements are also observable
in the paintings of Marcel Duchamp, Picabia, Léger and
de Chirico during this period, and prefigure the tendency towards
the cool, mechanical classicism of the period following the First
a quarter of the offered lots in this auction did not sell but
the total was $22,048,920.