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Impressionist & Modern Art

Part One

Sotheby's

7 PM, May 6, 2004

Sale 7990
"Le Bassin aux Nympheas" by Monet

Lot 133, "Le Bassin aux Nympheas," by Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 39 3/8 by 79 inches, circa 1917-9

By Carter B. Horsley

This evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby's is highlighted by an excellent and large waterlily painting by Claude Monet (1840-1926), two fine works by Georges Braque (1882-1963), a superb gouache and watercolor by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), a nice portrait by Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), a very good Balthus (1908-2001), a bold still life by Raoul Dufy (1877-1953), a nice cutout by Henri Matisse (1869-1954), a lovely painting by Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940), three good works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), a good Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), an interesting cityscape by Robert Delaunay (1885-1941), a good Paul Klee (1840-1926) watercolor, a wonderful painting of two cows by Heinrich Campendonk (1889-1957), and a strong work by Hermann Max Pechstein (1881-1955).

Lot 133, "Le Bassin aux Nympheas" is a stunning and large waterlily oil on canvas by Claude Monet that is one of numerous works in this auction consigned by the Fran and Ray Stark Foundation. The painting, which is the catalogue's cover illustration, measures 39 3/8 by 79 inches and was painted circa 1917-9. It is stamped with the artist's signature. Given its size, it has a modest estimate of $9,000,000 to $12,000,000. It sold for $16,808,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

The sale total of $96,071,200 brought the two-day total of this sale, the day Impressionist and Modern Art Sale May 6, 2004 and the Greentree Foundation sale the night before to $314,880,100, the auction house's highest seasonal total for the department since May, 1990.

This was a successful sale with just over 80 percent of the 52 offered lots selling, but there were some disappointments. In contrast with the crowded and buzzing scene at the sale of the Whitney paintings the night before there were some empty seats and not as much excitement at this sale. David C. Norman, co-chairman of the department at Sotheby's, said he was "just thrilled at the sale" and Charles S. Moffett, the other co-chairman, said it is "a very robust market." Mr. Moffett said that institutions were active but unsuccessful bidders at this sale and at the Whitney auction.

"Femme à  La Guitare" by Braque

Lot 136, "Femme à La Guitare," by Georges Braque, oil on canvas, 45 ¾ by 35 3/8 inches, 1931

Another major work from the Stark foundation is Lot 136, "Femme à La Guitare," a fine work by Georges Braque that was formerly in the collection of G. David Thompson of Pittsburgh and Mr. and Mrs. Lee A. Ault of New York. An oil on canvas that measures 45 ¾ by 35 3/8 inches, it was executed in 1931 and has a modest estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. "This combination of fluid line and carefully balanced planes of earth tones result in a harmonious and enchanting composition," the catalogue entry notes. It is a refined and esoteric work. It sold for $2,136,000.

"Paysage de l'Estaque" by Braque

"Lot 129, "Paysage de l'Estaque," by Georges Braque, oil on canvas, 19 5/8 by 24 inches, 1906

The auction has another excellent work by Braque, Lot 129, "Paysage de L'Estaque," an oil on canvas that measures 19 5/8 by 24 inches. Painted in 1906, this Fauve landscape has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $2,136,000.

"Boy on a Sofa" by Pechstein

Lot 135, "Knabe am Sofa (Boy on a Sofa), by Hermann Max Pechstein, oil on canvas, 27 1/2 by 31 inches, 1910

Another consigment from the Stark Foundation is Lot 135, "Knabe am Sofa (Boy on a Sofa)," a strong work by Hermann Max Pechtstein. An oil on canvas, it measures 27 ½ by 31 inches and is dated 1910. It has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $1,072,000. Pechstein was a member of Die Brücke, a group of avant-garde German artists including Emil Nolde and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner who are known as German Expressionists. This painting was exhibited by Pechtstein in an exhibition of Der Blaue Reiter in 1912.

"Untitled" by Kandinsky

Lot 112, "Ohne Titel (Untitled)," by Wassily Kandinsky, gouache, watercolor and India ink on paper, 14 ¼ by 9 7/8 inches, 1923

The first 13 lots of this auction consist of works from a European estate. The catalogue notes that "The 20th Century European paintings, drawings and sculpture featured on the following pages, along with a superb ensemble of works by the Cuban painter, Wilfredo Lam, modern prints, medieval works of art and furniture, antiquities, pre-Columbian and Tribal artifacts, are the product and reflection of an independently minded European couple who were passionate about the arts and intellectual pursuits. These two individuals escaped from pre-war Europe to later meet and marry in New York and then lead an international and peripatetic life, moving to South America, then Holland and finally Switzerland."

Perhaps the most stunning work in this group is Lot 112, an untilted gouaches, watercolor and India ink on paper by Wassily Kandinsky. Executed in 1923, it measures 14 ¼ by 9 7/8 inches and has a modest estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $355,200. Kandinsky started teaching at the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1922 and his work, according to the catalogue, "gradually moved away from the free flowing, irregular lines and shapes of his earlier years, towards a more geometric form of abstraction. His watercolors and paintings of this period are dominated by circles, triangles and straight lines rather than by undefined shapes and loosely applied paint. This shift to strict geometric forms reflects the influence of Russian Constructivist art to which he was exposed during the war years spent in Moscow.

"Hauser Am Park" by Klee

Lot 113, "Hauser Am Park (Houses in the Park)," by Paul Klee, watercolor on paper laid down on the artist's mount, 9 ¼ by 6 1/8 inches, 1925

Another lovely work of the same period from the estate is Lot 113, "Hauser Am Park (Houses in the Park)," by Paul Klee, a watercolor on paper laid down on the artist's mount. Dated 1925, it measures 9 ¼ by 6 1/8 inches. It has a modest estimate of $150,000 to $220,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $120,000. Klee also taught at the Bauhaus. The catalogue notes that "it reveals his fascination with architecture a subject that the school inspired in his paintings and drawings of the period." "The complex beauty and draftsmanship of these compositions became the basis for his reputation as one of the great intellectual artists of the 20th Century."

"Les Quatre Rosaces aux Motifs Bleus" by Matisse

Lot 110, "Les Quatre Rosaces aux Motifs Bleus," by Henri Matisse, gouache on cut paper pasted on paper support and mounted on canvas, 14 ½ by 21 inches, circa 1949-50

One of the highlights of this estate group is a fine cut-out by Henri Matisse, Lot 110, "Les Quatre Rosaces aux Motifs Bleus." The work measures 14 ½ by 21 inches and was executed circa 1949-50. It has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $2,584,000. The work, the catalogue maintained, "is said to have been designed originally for a book cover, but the artist kept it instead as an independent composition," adding that "Matisse focuses here on the shapes of flowers and elevates them from merely decorative objects to emblems of modern style."

"Komposition mit zwei Kuhen" by Campendonk

Lot 101, "Komposition mit zwei Kühen (Composition with Two Cows)," by Heinrich Campendonk, gouache and watercolor on paper, 17 by 21 ¼ inches, circa 1913

One of the best lots in the auction also comes from the same estate consignment: Lot 101, "Komposition mit zwei Kühen (Composition with Two Cows)," a wonderful gouache and watercolor on paper by Heinrich Campendonk. The work measures 17 by 21 ¼ inches and was executed circa 1913. It has a modest estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It sold for $209,600.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Campendonk completed Komposition mit zwei Kühen while living in Sindelsdorf, a small town near Murnau in Upper Bavaria. The artist moved there in 1911 at the invitation of fellow painters Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky, and, later that year, these men formed the artistic group known as Der Blaue Reiter. Including such artists as Gabriele Munter and August Macke, the members of Der Blaue Reiter were among the leaders of the avant-garde in Europe during years before the Great War; and contributed to the style of painting known as German Expressionism. Although the influence of the Fauvists and the Futurists is evident in their work, these artists prided themselves on the originality of each member's individual aesthetic and encouraged each other to paint freely and without the restrictions of unifying stylistic principles. The present pictureis a fine example of Campendonk's unique approach. This work is from Campendonk's series of geometric depictions of farm animals, a theme which was also favored by Franz Marc. Marc often acted as a mentor to Campendonk during their time together in Sindelsdorf, and both artists were fascinated by mystical depictions of the natural world and were inspired by the rural surroundings. But unlike Marc, Campendonk renders his subject with overlapping, transparent colors, using a luminous palette and application of color that is not unlike that of the Orphists and the Fauves."

"Jeune Fille à La Collerette" by Modigliani

Lot 119, "Jeune Fille à La Collerette," by Amedeo Modigliani, oil on canvas, 21 7/8 by 15 ¼ inches, 1915

The estate of Ruth G. Hardman is offering six works in this auction including a very attractive portrait by Amedeo Modigliani, Lot 119, "Jeune Fille à la Collerette." The oil on canvas measures 21 7/8 by 15 ¼ inches and was painted in 1915. It has a modest estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $1,200,000.

"La Fleche de Notre Dame" by Delaunay

Lot 117, "La Fleche de Notre Dame," by Robert Delaunay, oil on canvas, 32 by 21 5/8 inches, 1909-10

The Hardman estate also is offering an interesting cityscape by Robert Delaunay, Lot 117, "La Fleche de Notre Dame," which shows the spire of Notre Dame with the Seine in the background. The oil on canvas measures 32 by 21 5/8 inches and was painted circa 1909-10. Although it is a bit sketchy with a dark palette, it is an unusual and interesting composition. It has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $750,000.

"L'Acrobate" by Jacques Villon

Lot 116, "L'Acrobate," by Jacques Villon, oil on canvas, 39 ¼ by 28 ¼ inches, 1913

Another important Hardman offering is Lot 116, "L'Acrobate," by Jacques Villon (1875-1963). An oil on canvas that measures 39 ¼ by 28 ¼ inches, it was painted in 1913 and has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It was once in the collection of John Quinn. It sold for $1,296,000, far surpassing the artist's previous world auction record of $495,418.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Like his younger brothers, Raymond Duchamp-Villon and Marcel Duchamp, Villon was an insightful and progressive artist, often choosing subjects that challenged the norms of visual representation. One of the best examples of this artistic goal is the present work, a two-dimensional representation of an acrobat in motion. Villon's first attempt in rendering this theme was in 1897, when he completed a lithograph called Danseuse de carde for a Parisian periodical. In 1912-13, he returned to the subject in three drawings depicting an equilibriste balancing on his hands. Like Degas, Villon was fascinated with the depiction of movements performed by dancers and other stage performers. But as he progressed as an artist, his concentration shifted from representing the physicality of the figure to trying to capture the energy of motion itself. This achievement is the defining characteristic of the present work, in which the figure's limbs, torso and head are no longer visible in the swirl of motion."

Also in the Hardman group is Lot 114, "La Console de Marble," an oil, collage, and mirrored glass on canvas, by Juan Gris (1887-1927). The work was executed in 1914 and measures 24 by 19 ¾ inches. It has an ambitious estimate of $4,500,000 to $6,500,000. It sold for $7,400,000.

":e Sauvetage," by Picasso

Lot 120, "Le Sauvetage," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 38 1/4 by 51/4 inches, 1932

One of the auction's highlights is Lot 120, "Le Sauvetage," by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). An oil on canvas, it measures 38 ¼ by 51 ¼ inches and was painted in 1932. A pleasant scene of figures prancing about, it has an estimate of $10,000,000 to $15,000. It sold for $14,792,000.

Another Picasso, Lot 105, "Nu Accroupi," sold for $11,768,000, almost triple its high estimate.

Large detail of "Golden Afternoon" by Balthus

Lot 138, "Golden Afternoon," large detail, by Balthus, oil on canvas, 78 ¾ inches square, 1957

Balthus (1908-2001) is an artist whose subject matter is often more important than composition or technique and his subject matter is often young girls and reverie in dark surroundings. Lot 138 is a rare Balthus that has an interesting composition and a light palette. An oil on canvas, it is 78 ¾ inches square and was executed in 1957. It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $3,816,000 just over the artist's previous world auction record of $3,675,637. The work's title, the catalogue entry notes, is "derived from the poem by Lewis Carroll All in the Golden Afternoon, adding that "There is also a strong thematic resemblance between much of Balthus's work executed after 1950 and the photographs of young girls taken by Lewis Carroll in the 1860s."

"Fleurs dans un Vase" by Dufy

Lot 130, "Fleurs dans un Vase," by Raoul Dufy, oil on canvas, 35 ½ by 25 ¼ inches, 1906-7

Lot 130 is an extremely vibrant and sold Fauve still life of flowers by Raoul Dufy. The oil on canvas measures 35 ½ by 25 ¼ inches and was painted in 1906-07. It has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $500,000.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Having executed a number of Fauve canvases, particularly seascapes, in 1907, Dufy's focus started turning away from this style, to gradually adopt the prevailing Cubism. Fleurs dans un vase witnesses this important transition in Dufy's oeuvre, displaying increasingly simplified forms verging on abstraction, while at the same time maintaining the vibrant palette of his earlier work. In the first decade of the century, Dufy rarely chose to depict flowers as an isolated subject, preferring to present them as part of an interior or a landscape or garden scene. In the present work, the vase of flowers seems to be floating against an oval green background resembling a table top, which, combined with stylized trees behind it transforms into a patch of grass of an en plein air composition. In using bright green, red and yellow tones, Dufy follows his theory of couleur-lumière, observing the painting's own, internal principles of color and light, rather than copying nature. In fact, unlike his fellow Fauves who adopted a quieter palette after seeing Cézanne's work at the 1907 Salon d'Automne, Dufy's fascination with bright, primary colors never abandoned him. From this period on, he developed his own Cézanne-inspired brand of Cubism that came to be known as `Para-Cubism,' characterized by flattened and increasingly geometric forms. Although Dufy had probably not yet seen Cézanne's art by the time he painted the present work, the juxtaposition of warm and cool tones applied in broad brushstrokes and the reduction of elements to nearly abstract color patches present in Fleurs dans un vase show some affinities with Cézanne's own artistic experimentations. The present work thus heralds an important transition not only in Dufy's own painting, but also in the work of his fellow Fauve artists including Vlaminck and Derain."

Lot 145, "Liegender Akt In Starker Verkurzung (Reclining Nude Sharply Foreshortened)," is a strong and fine work by Max Beckman 1884-1950. An oil on canvas, it measures 29 by 21 inches and was executed in 1948. It has an estimate of $1,800,000 to $2,500,000. It sold for $2,472,000.

"Jeunes Filles aux Lilas" by Renoir

Lot 123, "Jeunes Filles aux Lilas," by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, oil on canvas, 21 5/8 by 18 inches, circa 1890

This auction has three nice works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Lot 123, "Jeunes Filles aux Lilas," a 21 5/8-by-18-inch oil on canvas is the back cover illustration of the catalogue. Executed circa 1890, it is being sold by a private New York collector and the Wadsworth Atheneum. It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $5,496,000. The catalogue notes that the models for this pleasant work were "most likely Julie Manet, the daughter of Berthe Morisot and the niece of Edouard Manet, and Paulette (Paule) Gobillard, her first cousin."

Lot 125 is a sketchy oil on canvas by Renoir of a young woman with an umbrella. It measures 10 by 7 6/8 inches and was painted in 1872. It has an estimate of $900,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $1,016,000. The catalogue notes that the woman depicted is "mostly likely Madame Claude Monet."

Lot 126 is a pastel and black crayon on paper by Renoir that is a fine study of a dancing couple for "La Danse à Bougival," one of the artist's most famous paintings that is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It measures 8 5/8 by 5 ½ inches and was executed in 1883. It has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $635,200.

"Enfant à Table" by Vuillard

Lot 127, "Enfant à Table," by Edouard Vuillard, oil on cardboard laid down on cradled panel, 19 1/8 by 24 ½ inches, 1900-01

Lot 127 is a very painterly work by Edouard Vuillard that depicts a child at a table. An oil on cardboard laid down on cradled panel, it measures 19 1/8 by 24 ½ inches. It was executed in 1900-01 and has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $792,000.

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's May 4, 2004

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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