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Impressionist & Modern Art

Part One

Christie's

7 PM, May 4, 2004

Sale 1370

"Portrait de Roger Dutilleul" by Modigliani

Lot 24, "Portrait de Roger Dutilleul," by Amedeo Modigliani, oil on canvas, 39 1/2 by 24 1/2 inches, 1919

By Carter B. Horsley

This evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie's has relatively few lots - 39 - but many fine works.

It is highlighted by a great portrait by Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), an important work by Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978), a superb work by Joan Miró (1893-1983), a fine small work by Piet Mondrian, a strong work by Fernard Léger (1881-1955), a nice painting by Henri Matisse (1869-1954), a large and impressive painting by Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940), two lovely paintings by Claude Monet (1840-1926), and good paintings by Juan Gris (1887-1927), Paul Signac (1863-1935), Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958) and André Masson (1896-1987) and a superb drawing by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).

Lot 24, "Portrait de Roger Dutilleul," is a superb work by Amedeo Modigliani that was executed in 1919. An oil on canvas, it measures 39 1/2 by 24 1/2 inches and has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $9,000,000. Dutilleul was one of the artist's major patrons and an important collector of modern painting in the early 20th Century. The catalogue quotes critic John Russell as describing it as "one of the finest of Modigliani's late portraits." Dutilleul's important art collection passed on his death in 1956 to his nephew Jean Masurel, who, according to the catalogue, "donated a significant part of it in 1979 to the Musée d'Art Moderne de Lille in Villeneuve D'Ascq."

The Modigliani failed to sell and was passed at $4.6 million. After the sale, Christopher Burge, the auctioneer, suggested that male portraits by the artist tended to fare less well than female portraits and that the palette of this work was not as intense as in most Modigliani's, although he maintained, correctly, it was a fine work.

As the first major auction of the spring season, it was a disappointment. It realized $56.6 million against a pre-sale low estimate of $64.9 million and a pre-sale high estimate of $94.6 million. While 82 percent of the lots were sold, some of the unsold lots were high-ticket items. Mr. Burge said that it was "a very solid result" and the auction room was "active, for the most part." He said that 78 percent of the buyers were American and 16 percent European.

"Il Grande Metafisico" by de Chirico

Lot 20, "Il Grande Metafisico," by Giorgio de Chirico, oil on canvas, 41 3/4 by 27 3/8 inches, 1917

Several works in this auction have been consigned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York including Lot 20, "Il Grande Metafisico," a large oil on canvas by Giorgio de Chirico. An oil on canvas that measures 41 3/4 by 27 3/8 inches, it was executed in 1917. It has an estimate of $7,000,000 to $10,000,000. It sold for $7,175,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. The sale price broke the artist's previous auction record of $5,289,000 set at Sotheby's November 15, 1889.

The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:

"Il grande metafisico is one of the most famous of de Chirico's early masterpieces. One of the most enduring and influential images of the artist's entire oeuvre, this haunting and evocative painting of bizarrely constructed classical monolith stands as both an icon of metaphysical painting and as a poignant emblem of the dark years of the First World War during which it was created. Il grande metafisico was painted by de Chirico in Ferrara in the autumn of 1917 during a leave of absence form his military duties. In some respects this painting, along with the other two great masterworks painted at this time, Il trovatore and Ettore e Andromaca, marks a return to the subject matter and ambience of the artist's earlier Parisian period of 1914. The predominantly dark atmosphere of foreboding and enigma that characterizes these mannequin-like reconstituted figures echoes the shadowy, autumnal feeling of mystery that suffuses de Chirico's earliest Parisian paintings, and owes little to the 'metaphysical interiors' that he had also done during his leave in Ferrara. Il grande metafisico is distinguishable from the mannequins of Ettore e Andromaca, Il trovatore, and also of the later Le muse inquietanti, in so far tht this figure is not actually a mannequin. It is instead a fabricated monument to the Metaphysical worldview. As Paolo Baldacci has written, the figure de Chirico represents in this work is 'the colossal man of the future foretold by the Metaphysical artist, the Nietzchean superman and the man of iron described by Savinio in his Realt' dorata.'...Towering over the piazzo Ariostea in Ferrara, a town square dominted by a marble monument to the Renaissance poet Ariosto, this constructed Metaphysician stands with his back to the viewer contemplating the artifice of the stage-set-like reality of the scene like an icon and symbol of the 'New Man' and his vision. The format of this work echoes the visual language of great 19th Century Romantic painting, in particular, Caspar David Friedrich's 1818 Wanderer above a Sea of Mists and, a favorite work of de Chirico's, Arnold Bocklin's Odysseus and Calypso of 1883."

"Nature Morte" by Léger

Lot 28, "Nature Morte," by Fernard Léger, oil on canvas, 25 3/4 by 19 3/4 inches, 1923

MOMA has also consigned Lot 28, a stunning "Nature Morte," that was once in the collection of Gordon Bunshaft, the architect. The oil on canvas measures 25 3/4 by 19 3/4 inches and was painted in 1923. It has a modest estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $1,519,500.

"La poissonière" by Masson

Lot 30, "La poissonière," by André Masson, oil on canvas, 38 3/8 by 51 1/2 inches, 1930

Other consignments from the Modern Museum in this auction include: Lot 21, "Portrait d'un jeune homme," by Pablo Picasso, an oil an panel that measures 10 3/4 by 7 3/7 inches and was painted in 1915 and has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000 and sold for $769,100; Lot 30, "La poissonière," an oil on canvas that measures 38 3/8 by 51 1/2 inches and has a modest estimate of $200,000 to $300,000 and sold for $253,900; Lot 32, "L'eternité," an oil on canvas by René Magritte (1898-1967) that measures 25 5/8 by 31 7/8 inches and has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000 and sold for $1,239,500; Lot 35, "Le temps n'a point de rives," an oil on canvas by Marc Chagall (1887-1985) that measures 39 1/8 by 32 inches and has an estimte of $1,400,000 to $1,800,000 and sold for $1,239,500.

"Le Rouge, le bleu, le bel espoir" by Miró

Lot 33, "Le Rouge, le bleu, le bel espoir," by Joan Miró, oil on canvas, 18 3/8 by 24 1/2 inches, 1947

Lot 33 is a fine oil on canvas by Joan Miró entitled "Le Rouge, le bleu, le bel espoir." It measures 18 3/8 by 24 1/2 inches and was executed in 1947.

The catalogue entry compares this work to Titian's "Venus with Cupid" and notes that Miró has transformed Cupid into the small button-like figure hovering watchfully above the reclining female, adding that "the central background motif was derived from the fountain in Titian's painting, which incorporated the figure of Pan, the classical demigod of nature." "The zigzag at the upper left stands for the distant horizon," it continued. It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000 and it sold for $5,383,500, the second highest price realized in the auction.

"Composition with Blue, Yellow, Red and Gray" by Mondrian

Lot 27, "Composition with Blue, Yellow, Red and Gray," by Piet Mondrian, oil on canvas, 15 1/2 by 13 3/4 inches, 1922

Lot 27 is a small but strong grid abstraction by Piet Mondrian. An oil on canvas that measures 15 1/2 by 14 3/4 inches, it was executed in 1922. It was once in the collections of Theo van Doesburg of Paris, and Herbert and Nannette Rothschild of New York and Judith Rothschild of New York. Entitled "Composition with Blue, Yellow, Red and Gray," it has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $5,000,000. The catalogue notes that it "is one of the first group of pictures that Mondrian executed in his mature neo-plastic style." It sold for $3,367,500.

"Compotier et cartes à jouer" by Juan Gris

Lot 22, "Compotier et cartes à jouer," by Juan Gris, oil on canvas, 31 7/8 by 25 3/4 inches, 1918

Lot 22 is a fine still life by Juan Gris entitled "Compotier et cartes à jouer." An oil on canvas, it measures 31 7/8 by 25 3/4 inches and was executed in 1918. It has an estimate of $1,800,000 to $2,500,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $1,500,000.

"Tete d'un homme" by Picasso

Lot 23, "Tete d'homme," by Pablo Picasso, charcoal on paper, 24 3/8 by 18 7/8 inches, 1912

Lot 23 is a very strong Cubist charcoal drawing on paper by Pablo Picasso. It measures 24 3/8 by 18 7/8 inches and was executed in 1912. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $903,500.

Another early Picasso is Lot 17, "Ballerina," a charming pastel on paper laid down on board that measures 16 by 12 3/4 inches. Executed in 1901, it has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $791,500.

Another Picasso is Lot 26, "La Bouteille de Malaga," an strong oil on canvas that measures 18 1/8 by 21 5/8 inches. Executed in 1919, it has an estimate of $1,800,000 to $2,500,000. It sold for $2,023,500.

"Aux pavillons à Cricquebouef" by Vuillard

Lot 15, "Aux Pavillons à Cricqueboeuf, Devant la maison," by Edouard Vuillard, peinture à la colle on canvas, 83 1/2 by 31 1/2 inches, 1911

Lot 15 is a very large peinture à colle on canvas by Edouard Vuillard entitled "Aux Pavillons à Cricquebouef, Devant la maison." Executed in 1911, it measures 83 1/2 by 31 1/2 inches and has a modest estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. This work was one of 13 decorative panels commissioned by the artist's dealers, Josse and Gaston Bernheim for their summer home, Bois-Lurette, in Villers-sur-Mer. It sold for $903,500.

"Herblay, Temps gris, Saules" by Signac

Lot 14, "Herblay, Temps gris, Saules (Opus 205)," by Paul Signac, oil on canvas, 13 1/8 by 18 1/8 inches, 1889

The backcover illustration of the catalogue is a detail of Lot 14, "Herblay, Temps gris, Saules (Opus 205)," by Paul Signac. An oil on canvas, it measures 13 1/8 by 18 1/8 inches and was executed in 1889. It has an estimate of $1,800,000 to $2,500,000.

"La Seine en crue à Vétheuil" by Monet

Lot 3, "La Seine en crue à Vétheuil," by Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 25 5/8 by 31 7/8 inches, 1881

There are four works by Claude Monet in the auction.

Lot 3, "La Seine en crue à Vétheuil," is a very painterly and impressive oil on canvas that measures 25 5/8 by 31 7/8 inches. Executed in 1881, it has a modest estimate of $1,800,000 to $2,500,000. The clouds in the sky are vigorously painted while the trees are quite ethereal and the water ripples are classic Impressionist-style. It sold for $2,359,500.

Lot 13, "Paysage de Printemps à Giverny," is another fine Monet. An oil on canvas that measures 36 3/4 by 25 1/2 inches, it was executed in 1894. It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $4,039,500.

"Jeune fille aux anémones sur fond violet" by Matisse

Lot 29, "Jeune fille aux anémones sur fond violet," by Henri Matisse, oil on canvas, 24 1/4 by 19 7/8 inches, 1944

The front cover illustration of the catalogue is Lot 29, "Jeune fille aux anémones sur fond violet," by Henri Matisse. An oil on canvas, it measures 24 1/4 by 19 7/8 inches and was executed in 1944. It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $2,700,000.

Lot 19 is a very strong painting of sail boats at Chatou by Maurice de Vlaminck. An oil on canvas, it measures 21 1/4 by 25 5/8 inches. Executed in 1905, it has an estimate of $1,800,000 to $2,500,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $1,700,000.

Lot 8, "Vase au guerrier Japonais," a large pastel and pencil on paper laid down on board by Odile Redon (1840-1916) sold for $3,815,500, far above the artist's previous world auction record of $2,310,000 set at Sotheby's November 15, 1989. The lot was consigned by the Doris Duke Collection to benefit the Doris Duke Charitable Foundaton.

Another world auction record was set for Lot 36, "Portrait of Mrs. Bush," by Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980). It sold for $4,599,500, eclipsing the previous record of $2,649,500 set at Sotheby's May 8, 2002. The 48 1/8-by-26-inch oil on canvas was executed in 1929.

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 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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