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Impressionist & Modern Art (Day Sale)

and

Impressionist & Modern Works on Paper

Christie's

10 AM, May 8, 2002

Sale 1076

"La baie du Bec d'Aigle' by Emile-Othon Friesz

Lot 253, "La baie du Bec d'Aigle," by Emile-Othon Friesz, oil on canvas, 18 1/8 by 21 5/8 inches, 1907

By Carter B. Horsley

This 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 Chirico (1888-1978).

"Le Premier Bain" by Honoré Daumier

Lot 217, "Le Premier Bain," by Honoré Daumier, oil on panel, 5 7/8 by 9 inches, 1852-5

Lot 217, "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 It was unfortunately withdrawn after the catalogue was published.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

Lot 223, "Paysage avec usine," by Henri Rousseau (Le Douanier), is a 15-by-18-inch oil on canvas, circa 1896-1906.

Lot 223, "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 $100,000.)

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" by Joan Miró

Lot 329, "Femme devant le soleil," by Joan Miró, oil on canvas, 9 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches, 1938

Lot 329. "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 claw-like hands.

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 $493,500.

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 Le Ciotat."

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.

"Grande Composition à la contrebasse" by Braque

Lot 288, "Grand Composition à la contrebasse," by Georges Braque, oil and charcoal on canvas, 78 1/2 by 39 1/2 inches, circa 1912-7

Braque produced 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.

"Still Life" by Ben Nicholson

Lot 340, "Still Life," by Ben Nicolson, oil and pencil on board, 13 1/2 by 15 1/4 inches, 1946

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.


"Stehendes Madchen nach links mit nacktem Oberkorper, Hosen, 'Ball-Entrée" by Klimt

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

Most notable 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.

The woman 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 to sell.

"Dorg bei Bern" by Paul Klee

Lot 115, "Dorf bei Bern," by Paul Klee, watercolor and tempera over pencil on paper laid down by the artist on board, 4 3/4 by 8 7/8 inches, 1912

Perhaps 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.

"Pistil" by Jean (Hans) Arp

Lot 355, "Pistil," by Jean (Hans) Arp, black marble and cement, 34 5/8 inches not counting base, 1950

Lot 355, 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 for $273,500.

"Pot en forme d'une tete grotesque" by Gauguin

Lot 203, "Pot en forme d'une tête grotesque," by Paul Gauguin, glazed earthenware, 8 1/8 inches high, circa 1895

Another 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 1895.

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 Square Vase.

This lot has a conservative estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It sold for $229,500.

"Il Trovetore" by de Chirico

Lot 346, "Il Trovetore," by Giorgio de Chirico, oil on canvas, 23 1/2 by 19 3/4 inches, circa 1950-55

Lot 346, "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.

"Femme Assise" by Raymond Duchamp-Villon

Lot 282, "Femme assise," by Raymond Duchamp-Villon," bronze, 25 3/4 inches high, conceived in 1914, cast in the 1950s.

The mannequin 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 evolution."

"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 World War."

About a quarter of the offered lots in this auction did not sell but the total was $22,048,920.

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist and Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist & Modern 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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