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Impressionist & Modern Art

Sotheby's

7 PM, May 3, 2006

Sale 8195

"Dora Maar au Chat" by Picasso

Lot 14, "Dora Maar au Chat," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 51 by 38 inches, 1941

By Carter B. Horsley

The opening Sotheby's auction of the spring season is highlighted by a vibrant portrait of Dora Maar by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) that the auction house anticipates will fetch in "the region of $50 million."

The oil on canvas measures 51 by 38 inches and was executed in 1941 and was once in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Leigh B. Block of Chicago. The catalogue entry is 16 pages long:

"The story of Dora Maar's relationship with Picasso is legendary in the history of 20th Century art. Picasso met Maar, the Surrealist photographer, in the fall of 1935 and was enchanted by the young woman's powerful sense of self and commanding presence. although still involved with Marie-Thérèse Walter and still married to Olga Khokhlova at the time, Picasso became intimately involved with Maar by the end the year, and by 1937 she had ascended to the status of the artist's primary mistress. Unlike the docile and domestic Marie-Thérèse who had given birth to thier daughter Maya in 1935, Maar was an artist, spoke Picasso's native Spanish, and shared his intellectual and political concerns. She even assisted with the execution of the monumental Guernica...."

The painting sold for $95,216,000, including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. The price was the second highest in auction history. The highest, $104 million, was set at Sotheby's in May, 2004 and was another Picasso, "Boy with Pipe," from his earlier and more lyrical "Rose" period. The buyer was an unidentified man seating on an outside aisle about two-thirds of the way back in the very large auction room and he bid by waving his paddle. He also bought two other works, a seascape by Claude Monet for about $5 million and a 1978 biblical scene by Marc Chagall for $2.5 million.

The auction room was quiet during the long bidding in which auctioneer Tobias Meyer twice misstated the current bid, but burst into applause at the conclusion when Charles Moffett, co-chairman of the Impressionist and Modern Art Department at Sotheby's indicated that his telephone bidder was giving up.

At a news conference after the auction, David Norman, co-chairman of Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art Department, was asked if there had been "competition" for the Picasso. William F. Ruprecht, president and chief executive officer of Sotheby's Holdings, interjected that there was, adding "we put a higher value on it."

The auction total for the evening was $207,500,000, Sotheby's highest total for an Impressionist and Modern Art auction since May, 1990. The pre-sale high estimate for the auction was $190.8 million. The previous night Christie's sale (see The City Review article) totalled approximately $180 million, also its highest total since May, 1990.

"Jeune Garcon Nu" by Picasso

Lot 28, "Jeune Garcon Nu (Nu Aux Bras Levés), by Pablo Picasso, pastel, black chalk and pencil on paper, 9 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches, 1907

For connoisseurs who value Picasso's Cubist works and early works more than his later Surrealist works, Lot 28, "Jeune Garcon Nu (Nu Aux Bras Levés)," might be more preferable than the Dona Maar painting. A pastel, black chalk and pencil on paper that measures only 9 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches, it was executed in 1907 and has a very modest estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for only $800,000, the bargain of the auction. It was formerly in the collection of Albert E. Gallatin, George L. K. Morris and Walter P. Chrysler Jr.

"Arlequin au Baton" by Picasso

Lot 29, "Arlequin au Baton," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 75 1/2 by 50 1/2 inches, 1969

Of course, for connoisseurs who appreciate the humor in Picasso's late work, Lot 29, "Arlequin au Baton," an oil on canvas that measures 75 1/2 by 50 1/2 inches, might be tempting. Dated 1969, it has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $10,000,000. It sold for $10,096,000. The painting is the back-cover illustration of the catalogue.

"Enfants Dessinant" by Picasso

Lot 48, "Enfants Dessinant," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 36 1/8 by 28 3/4 inches, 1954

Lot 48 is a simple but cheerful study of two children by Pablo Picasso, entitled "Enfants Dessinant." An oil on canvas, it was executed in 1954 and measures 36 1/8 by 28 3/4 inches. It has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $2,816,000.

"Nu Couché Vu de Dos" by Matisse

Lot 22, "Nu Couché Vu de Dos," by Henri Matisse, oil on canvas, 26 by 36 1/4 inches, 1927

The cover illustration of the catalogue is Lot 22, a good-sized oil on canvas of a naked woman on a sofa seen from the back by Henri Matisse (1869-1954). It measures 26 by 36 1/4 inches and was painted in 1927. It has an estimate of $12,000,000 to $15,000,000. It sold for $18,496,000, an auction record for Matisse despite the fact that it has little of the grace that characterizes his finest work.

"La Fille du Rat Mort" by Vlaminck

Lot 6, "La Fille du Rat Mort," by Maurice de Vlaminck, oil on canvas, 12 7/8 by 18 3/8 inches, 1905-6

A far more alluring nude and a far better painting is Lot 6, "La Fille du Rat Mort," by Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958). An oil on canvas that measures 12 7/8 by 18 3/8 inches is perhaps the best work in the auction and was painted in 1905-6. It has a very modest estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $575,000. Asked after the auction why it did not fare better, David Norman, co-chairman of Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art department, suggested that many collectors of Fauve paintings prefer landscapes and not all collectors are crazy about, or comfortable with, nudes.

"Painted with remarkable spontaneity and verve," the catalogue entry noted, "Vlaminck's portrait of a reclining nude is one of his most powerful and visually arresting compositions. the pale white tones of the model's skin emerge from a welter of large patches of undiluted color which unites the figure with the vibrant background. The model depicted was a young dancer from the cabaret, 'Rat Mort,' which had also been frequented by Toulouse-Lautrec."

"Paysage a L'Estaque" by Derain

Lot 15, "Paysage a L'Estaque," by André Derain, oil on canvas, 21 1/4 by 25 3/4 inches, 1906

Vlaminck worked often during his Fauve period with André Derain (1880-1954), who is represented in the auction with an Estaque landscape, Lot 15. An oil on canvas that measures 21 1/4 by 25 3/4 inches, it was painted in 1906. It has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $5,000,000. It sold for $6,848,000. While it is a classic Fauve landscape of brilliant colors, it is not one of Derain's masterpieces as its composition is a bit conventional and the foreground a bit weak. Fauve landscapes, of course, are fantastic.

"Les Toits" by van Gogh

Lot 18, "Les Toits," by Vincent van Gogh, watercolor and gouache on paper, 15 3/8 by 22 1/4 inches, 1882

One of the finest and most surprising works in the auction is Lot 18, "Les Toits," a very beautiful and detailed watercolor and gouache on paper by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). It measures 15 3/8 by 22 1/4 inches and was executed in 1882. It has a modest estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $4,720,000. The work does not have the typical van Gogh style and, according to Mr. Norman, is probably the finest of about 20 such village scenes he did during this period. Its composition, however, is superb. The scene depicted is from the artist's attic windowoverlooking the roof tops of The Hague.

"Fleurs et Fruits" by Renoir

Lot 13, "Fleurs et Fruits," by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, oil on canvas, 25 3/4 by 21 1/2 inches, circa 1889

The auction has several fine still-life paintings. Lot 13 is a very lovely and superb still-life by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). An oil on canvas that measures 25 3/4 by 21 1/2 inches, it was painted circa 1889. It has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $2,816,000. The work was once in the collection in Colonel and Mrs. Edgard w. Garbisch and Sam Salz.

"Nature Morte Avec Leda" by Vuillard

Lot 1, "Nature Morte Avec Leda," by Edouard Vuillard, oil on cardboard on cradled panel, 23 1/2 by 31 1/4 inches, circa 1902

Lot 1, "Nature Morte Avec Leda," is a lovely, large and luminous still-life by Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940). It measures 23 1/2 by 31 1/4 inches and was painted circa 1902. It has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $408,000.

"Azalées Blanches en Pot" by Monet

Lot 2, "Azalées Blanches en Pot," by Claude Monet,oilon canvas, 20 1/4 by 15 inches, 1885

Another fine still-life is Lot 2, "Azalées Blanches en Pot," by Claude Monet (1840-1926). An oil on canvas, it measures 20 1/4 by 15 inches and was painted in 1885. It has a modest estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $1,920,000.

"Fleurs" by Redon

Lot 23, "Fleurs," by Odilon Redon, pastel on paper, 23 by 18 1/2 inches, circa 1905

Lot 23, "Fleurs," is a classic and beautiful floral still life by Odilon Redon (1840-1916). A pastel on paper, it mesaures 23 by 18 1/2 inches and was executed circa 1905. It has a modest estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $912,000.

"Soldats" by Chagall

Lot 24, "Soldats," by Marc Chagall, gouache on cardboard, 15 by 12 3/4 inches, 1912

One of the strongest works in the auction is Lot 24, "Soldats," a gouache on cardboard that measures 15 by 12 3/4 inches. At first glance, many observers might assume it was an excellent work by Max Beckmann, but, in fact, it is by Marc Chagall (1887-1985). It was executed in 1912 and has an estimate of $1,800,000 to $2,500,000. It sold for $2,032,000.

"Nature Morte (Le Compass)" by Léger

Lot 45, "Nature Morte (Le Compass)," by Fernand Léger, oil on canvas, 36 1/4 by 25 3/4 inches, 1926

Lot 45 is a very elegant still-life oil on canvas of a compass by Fernand Léger (1881-1955). It measures 36 1/4 by 25 3/4 inches and is dated 1926. It has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $2,032,000.

"Baigneuses" by Cross

Lot 5, "Baigneuses," by Henri-Edmond Cross, oil on canvas, 21 1/8 by 28 3/4 inches, 1892-5

Lot 5, "Baigneuses," is a lovely and excellent example of "Divisionism" by Henri-Edmond Cross (1856-1910). An oil on canvas, it measures 21 1/8 by 28 3/4 inches and was executed circa 1892-5. The catalogue entry for this lot notes that "The present work, with its two frolicking nudes in a spectacularly colorful settingcan be considered a forerunner to Matisse's famous Fauvist pictures of nudes completed a decade later." It has an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,136,000.

"La Foret Claire" by Ernst

Lot 40, "La Foret Claire," by Max Ernst, oil on canvas, 28 3/4 by 36 1/4 inches, 1925-6

Lot 40, "La Foret Claire," is a fine work by Max Ernst (1891-1976). An oil on canvas that measures 28 3/4 by 36 1/4 inches, it was executed in 1925-6 and has an modest estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $777,600.

"La Danse Grecque" by Degas

Lot 12, "La Danse Grecque," by Edgar Degas, pastel on joined paper laid down on board, 22 3/4 by 19 1/4 inches, circa 1885-1890

Lot 12, "La Danse Grecque," is a pastel on joined paper laid down on board by Edgar Degas depicting three ballerinas. It measures 22 3/4 by 19 1/4 inches and was executed between 1885-1890. The lot once belonged to Dr. Albert Barnes of Merion, Pennsylvania, Ralph M. Coe, and Thelma Chrysler Foy. It has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It was withdrawn from the auction.

 

See The City Review article on the Spring 2006 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2005 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Impresssionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's November 2, 2005

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern evening sale at Sotheby's in the Spring, 2005

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction in the Fall, November, 2005

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Sotheby's November 5, 2004

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

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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