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Property of the Greentree Foundation

From the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney

Sotheby's

7PM, May 5, 2004

Sale NY7989

"Garçon à La Pipe" by Picasso


Lot 7, "Garçon à La Pipe," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 39 ¼ by 32 inches, 1905

By Carter B. Horsley

The late Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney had a famous art collection and after their deaths many of their masterpieces were given to museums such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, which received the sensational "Marcelle Lender dansant le bolèro dans 'Chilpéric" by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the great "Charing Cross Bridge," by André Derain, a luminous "Fenetre ouverte, Collioure," by Henri Matisse, and a wonderful self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which received a nice "Les Oliviers," by van Gogh.

Mr. Whitney was the American Ambassador to the Court of St. James's, the publisher of The New York Herald Tribune, a movie producer, chairman of the Museum of Modern Art in New York from 1946 to 1956, and a horse breeder. His wife, Betsey Cushing Whitney, was well known for her philanthropy.

The works of art being offered at several different auctions at Sotheby's this season from their collection will finance the philanthropic work of the Greentree Foundation established by Mrs. Whitney. Greentree was the name of their estate of about 500 acres in Manhasset on Long Island.

While their bequests to major museums are most impressive, this auction is not simply leftovers. Indeed, Lot 7, the highlight of the auction may well be the finest work in the collection, "Garçon à La Pipe," a large and poetic Rose Period work by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).

There is a melancholic lyricism in much of Picasso's Rose and Blue Periods. Lush, soft pastel colors contrast with stark black outlines. Ambiguity reigns. Figures are lovingly depicted but they seem to be sad.

"The painting has never failed to impress viewers both with the nobility of its composition and the mysterious grace of the sitter who gazes reflectively into space," the catalogue entry noted. "It conjures up Verlaine's poem 'Crimen Amoris,' about a palace in Ecbatana where 'adolescent satans' neglect the five senses for the seven deadly sins, except for the most handsome of all these evil agents, who is sixteen years old under his wreath of flowers...and who dreams away, his eyes full of fire and tears," according to John Richardson in his 1991 book, "A Life of Picasso."

The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:

"One of the iconic images of the Blue and Rose periods, Garçon à la pipe, is a masterpiece of Picasso's early years and the finest painting of that era remaining in private hands. This extraordinary work probably began as a study from life in Picasso's immediate surroundings but was dramatically transformed in a moment of sudden inspiration. According to André Salmon: 'After a delightful series of metaphysical acrobats, dances like priestesses of Diana, delightful clowns and `wistful Harlequins,' Picasso had painted, without a model, the purest and simplest image of a young Parisian working boy, beardless and in blue overalls: having indeed, more or less the same appearance as the artist himself during working hours. One night, Picasso abandoned the company of his friends and their intellectual chit-shat. He returned to his studio, took the canvas he had abandoned a month before and crowned the figure of the little apprentice lad with roses. He had made this work a masterpiece thanks to a sublime whim." Picasso's work of the Rose period has always been admired for its melancholy charm and haunting poetry, contrasting with the deep gloom of the immediately preceding Blue period, yet in both instances the source of inspiration was in his immediate surroundings. Since 1904, he had been living in the Bateau Lavoir in Montmartre. Although the model for the present work has sometimes been identified as an actor, it seems likely that he was an adolescent known as 'p'tit Louis,' who was frequently to be found at the Bateau Lavoir along with, in Picasso's own words, other `local types, actors, ladies, gentlemen, delinquents.He stayed there, sometimes the whole day. He watched me work. He loved that.' A number of preliminary studies for the present painting show Picasso depicting his model in a variety of different positions, standing, sitting, leaning against a wall, lighting a pipe or simply holding it in his hands.This remarkable painting differs radically from any of the preliminary studies, transforming the young boy who might light his pipe into a slightly more a mature adolescent who gazes absently into space. Even before the addition of the garland of flowers, any trace of the anecdotal had been removed. The pipe in held in the left had with the stem pointing away from the youthful smoker, as an emblem of maturity, perhaps, rather than a purveyor of tobacco smoke....The effect is not unlike that of some of the late portraits of Odilon Redon who frequently surrounded his sitters with masses of flowers."

The oil on canvas measures 39 ¼ by 32 inches and was painted in 1905. It has an "estimate on request" and is likely to fetch an extremely high price. One recent press report quoted an enthusiastic, anonymous source as speculating that it might fetch as much as $100 million, which seems rather ambitious.

It sold for $104,168,00, almost double the artist's prior world auction record of $55,006,000 and, more importantly, exceeding by $20 million or so the previous world auction record for any work of art.

"A big night," Albert Taubman, the former chairman of Sotheby's, said with a big smile to Ira Spanierman, the art dealer, as the auctiongoers departed.

Tobias Meyer, the night's auctioneer, opened the bidding on the lot at $55 million and it moved relatively quickly up to the low 70's and then seemed to end at $79 million. Mr. Meyer, of course, was patient. There were seven bidders and they started again and it went up, slowly, to $91 million, then $92 million and finally Mr. Meyer banged his hammer at $93 million. to a long round of applause. That, of course, was just the hammer price, and with commissions the final price was $104,168,000 for a telephone bidder. Sotheby's declined to disclose any information about the identity of the winner bidder. The Whitneys had purchased the Picasso for about $28,000 in 1950.

The sale was very successful with 32 of the 34 offered lots selling for a total of $189,894,400.

Auction records were set for four other artists.

Given the Whitney's passion for horse-racing it is not surprising that it is a subject of numerous paintings in their collection.

Lot 30, "The Red Prince Mare," by Sir Alfred James Munnings (1878-1959) sold for $7,848,000, far above his previous auction record of $4,292,500 set at Christie's in December, 1999. It was one of four works by Munnings in the auction. "The Red Prince Mare" is a 40-by-60-inch oil on canvas that was executed in 1921 and has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. Munnings was president of the Royal Academy of Art in London for several years and was antagonistic to much "modern art." His work is painterly but rather academic, but he is generally regarded as the best painter of horses in the 20th Century and horse lovers apparently tend to not mind paying a great deal of money for portraits of their steeds disproportionate to their artistic merit.

Lot 17, "Pots de Fleurs," is a large floral still life by Jean-Frederic Bazille (1841-1870) that is dated 1866. The oil on canvas measures 39 ½ by 31 ¾ inches and has an ambitious estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $5,328,000, soaring above the artist's previous auction record of $1,270,890.

"Good and Evil Angels..." by William Blake

Lot 5, "The Good and Evil Angels Struggling for Possession of a Child," by William Blake, monotype, pen and block ink, watercolor and gouache with touches of graphite on paper, 17 1/4 by 23 1/16 inches

Lot 5, "The Good and Evil Angels Struggling for Possession of a Child," by William Blake (1757-1827), sold for $3,928,000, well above the artist's previous auction record of $2,532,500. In announcing the work's title, Mr. Meyer add "Or Two Bidders Trying to Get the Picasso," which elicited a lot of laughter in the jam-packed auction room.

It is a large monotype, pen and block ink, watercolor and gouache with touches of graphite on paper. The 17 ¼-by-23 1/16-inch-work has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It is the reverse of a watercolor composition of the same title by Blake that is in the Cecil Higgins Clark Art Gallery in Bedford, England. The watercolor is more lyrical and fluid.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"The Good and Evil Angels Struggling for Possession of a Child is one of a group of twelve compositions known as the Large Color Prints datable to 1795-1805. They show Blake at a period of remarkable productivity, in full control of his imaginative powers and technical skill. The works are hand-colored monotypes, the largest and most successful works on paper that Blake had made to that date. There are 32 different versions of the twelve subjects, though two remain untraced since the 19th Century, and no more than four of any one composition. The Good and Evil Angels Struggling for Possession of a Child is known in two versions, the present example and another in the Tate Britain, London. It is generally accepted that the Whitney version was the first impression. It is freer in handling, with none of the exaggerated musculature of the Tate version. Of the 30 Large Color Prints known today, eleven are in the Tate Britain, five are in other British museums, ten in American museums and one Newtonis the property of an American religious institution. The remaining three are currently in private hands but it is highly unlikely that other than the present work will come onto the market."

"Fete à Saint-Adresse" by Dufy

Lot 6, "Fete à Saint-Adresse," by Raoul Dufy, oil on canvas, 25 ½ by 31 ¾ inches, 1906

Although Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) is perhaps best known for the bright and gay illustrative style of his later career, he produced some extremely fine Fauve works early in his career of which Lot 6, "Fete à Saint-Adresse," is an excellent example. An oil on canvas that measures 25 ½ by 31 ¾ inches, it was executed in 1906 and has an estimate of $1,800,000 to $2,200,000. Dufy did not adhere fully to the Fauve style and this work contains black, a color generally shunned by the Fauves. It sold for $3,144,000, nicely above the artist's previous auction record of $2,532,500.

There are two great horse-racing paintings by Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Lots 18 and 20.

"La Promenade des Chevaux" by Degas

Lot 18, "La Promenade des Chevaux," by Edgar Degas, oil on canvas, 15 ¼ by 35 1/8, circa 1892

Lot 18, "La Promenade des Chevaux," is a superb oil on canvas by Edgar Degas (1834-1917). It measures 15 ¼ by 35 1/8 inches and was painted circa 1892. The striking horizontal composition is quite bold with five horses and their jockeys on the right and one on the left, close to the center. The riders on the right are in front of 8 tree trunks while the one on the left is in front of open space. The painting is quite abstract with little attention to detail. It has a lovely palette. It has a modest estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It sold for only $4,376,000.

"Avant La Course" by Degas

Lot 20, "Avant La Course," by Edgar Degas, oil on canvas, 11 7/8 by 19 inches, circa 1882-88

The other Degas equestrian scene is Lot 20, "Avant La Course," an oil on canvas that measures 11 7/8 by 19 inches and is dated circa 1882-8. Although it is smaller and much less interesting than Lot 18, it has the same estimate, which is ambitious. It sold for $4,376,000. There are other versions in the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts and the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore.

"Les Courses Au Bois de Boulogne" by Manet

Lot 13, "Les Courses Au Bois de Boulogne," by Edouard Manet, oil on canvas 28 5/8 by 37 inches, 1872

Lot 13, "Les Courses Au Bois de Boulogne," is a good horse-racing picture by Edouard Manet (1832-1883) that is sketchy but has some marvelous Impressionist brushwork. An oil on canvas, it measures 28 7/8 by 37 inches and was painted in 1872. Manet's "Courses à Longchamp," at the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the great racing pictures of all time with its panoramic viewpoint of thoroughbreds racing directly towards the viewer. This painting shows a few riders and their horses in the left lower foreground but most of the composition is focused on attendees at the race and the surrounding landscape. It has an ambitious estimate of $20,000,000 to $30,000,000. It was the second costliest lot of the auction and sold for $$26,328,000. It was sold to a bidder on the telephone with Charles S. Moffett, the co-chairman of the auction house's Department of Impressionist & Modern Art, who was standing alongside Mr. Meyer's podium and next to David C. Norman, the other co-chairman with whom he was competing on the lot. Mr. Meyer was being very patient and giving Mr. Norman plenty of time to coax another bid from his telephone caller and Mr. Moffat kept motioning with his hand on Mr. Meyer's podium to bring his hammer down, which after quite a while he did. At the post-sale press conference later, Mr. Norman said that there was "tremendous buoyancy in the market."

There are several dazzling works in the auction of brilliant color and unusual composition including a fine Pointillistic still life by Henri Matisse (1869-1954), and a very strong sailing picture by Paul Signac (1863-1935).

"Nature Morte au Purro II" by Matisse

Lot 25, "Nature Morte au Purro II," by Henri Matisse, oil on canvas, 11 by 14 inches, circa 1904-5

Lot 25, "Nature Morte au Purro II," is a quite ravishing still life by Henri Matisse. Executed circa 1904-5, it is an oil on canvas that measures 11 by 14 inches. It has a modest estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $1,856,000. In 1904, he painted "Nature Morte au Purro I," which was Cézannesque and is now in the Phillips Family Collection in New York. This lot was painted the next year after he had spent the summer at St. Tropez at the invitation of Paul Signac. The catalogue entry notes that in this work Matisse "employed a vastly different approach," adding that "The resulting picture was considerably more modern than its predecessor and clearly reflected the impact of Signac's Neo-Impressionist aesthetic on Matisse's work. With such a strong use of color and emphatic brush strokes, this picture makes an important stage in the evolution of his oeuvre, and is an obvious precursor to the Fauvist style that would take over his production in 1905."

"Collioure, Le Mohamed-El-Sadok" by Signac

Lot 8, "Collioure, Le Mohamed-El-Sadok," by Paul Signac, oil on panel, 10 3/8 by 13 5/8 inches, 1887

Lot 8, "Collioure, Le Mohamed-El-Sadok," is a very striking small oil on panel, 10 3/8 by 13 5/8 inches, by Paul Signac. Executed in 1887, it has a modest estimate of $500,000 to $700,000. It sold for $1,072,000.

Lot 9, "Bateaux sur Le Galet," is an oil on canvas, 28 ¾ by 36 ¼ inches, by Claude Monet (1840-1926). Executed in 1884, it depicts fishing boats on the shore at Etretat and has modest estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It is very similar to an 1885 work by the artist in the Szpmuvészeti Museum in Budapest. It sold for $4,488,000.

"Demoiselle en Rouge" by Vuillard

Lot 21, "Demoiselle en Rouge," by Edouard Vuillard, oil on canvas laid down on cradled panel, 14 by 9 ½ inches, 1893

Lot 21, "Demoiselle en Rouge," is a lovely small oil on canvas laid down on cradled panel by Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940). It depicts a young woman wearing a red and white dress standing by a paintbox. It was painted in 1893 and measures 14 by 9 ½ inches. It has a conservative estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $321,600. The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:

"In the present work, the sitter is framed by a large negative space, a device inspired by the Japanese prints of Hokusai and Utamaro among others. The viewer's eye is drawn to the model's vibrant red dress that Vuillard delineates by employing Divisionist brushstrokes. His brushwork has little to do with the depiction of light or the optical theories of Seurat. Instead, Vuillard uses the Neo-Impressionist technique to break down the composition into areas of surface patterns. In startling contrast to the delicate brushwork employed in the sleeves and skirt, the model's bodice is indicated by a broad application of pigment that has been scored with the blunt edge of a brush. This same effect is visible in the dark red block at the center right side of the work. It is clear that the sitter is an artist, and she is depicted reaching into her paint box. He easel and paintings, the attributes of her profession or favorite domestic pastime, are visible in the background."

"Heureux Quatuor" by Rousseau

Lot 24, "Heureux Quatuor," by Henri Rousseau, oil on canvas, 37 3/8 by 22 7/8 inches, 1902

Lot 24 is a good and rare oil on canvas by Henri Rousseau (1844-1910). Entitled "Heureux Quatuor," it measures 37 3/8 by 22 7/8 inches and was executed in 1902. It has a modest estimate of $1,250,000 to $1,750,000. Surprisingly, Mr. Meyer opened the bidding on this lot at only $320,000 and it failed to sell and was passed at $380,000. At the press conference after the sale, Charles Moffett said that the Rousseau "was the anomaly, the conundrum of tonight's sale."

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Heureux Quatuor was first exhibited at the Salon des Independents in 1902. Rousseau clearly attached great importance to the painting as an annotated copy of the catalogue shows that it was priced at 2000 francs, far more than any of his other paintings that were exhibited in the same Salon. One of the few depictions of nudes in Rousseau's oeuvre, Heureux Quatuor is noteworthy for its idyllic tone and for its curious updating of themes that had become clichés in much contemporary academic painting. Situating his emblematic nude figures in a freely painted, sylvan landscape, Rousseau evoked the ideal world that Matisse was to explore in his masterpiece of 1906, Le Bonheur de vivre. It is one of his rare excursions into the world of allegory, quite distinct in character from his explorations of the modern world or the lush jungles of his imagination, immeasurably enlivened by the presence of the dog who lifts his head and seems to join the music."

"Jouers de Cartes" by Daumier

Lot 12, "Jouers de Cartes," by Honore Daumier, oil on panel, 10 5/8 by 13 ½ inches, circa 1859-62

Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) is one of the great caricaturists in art history. Lot 12, "Jouers de Cartes," is a pleasant, small oil on panel by him that was executed circa 1859-62. It measures 10 5/8 by 13 ½ inches and has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $550,000. The catalogue notes that Daumier's paintings "usually depict intimate genre scenes that engage and amuse the viewer" as opposed to the "intense social criticism" of his famous illustrations.

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 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's May 6, 2004

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Sotheby's May 7, 2004

See The City Review article on the Spring 2004 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

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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