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
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.
entry provides the following commentary:
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.