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Impressionist & Modern Art

Sotheby's

7 PM, May 8, 2007

Sale 8314

"Velocita d'Automobile + Luci" by Balla

Lot 42, "Velocita d'Automobile + Luci," by Giacomo Balla, oil on gold paper laid down on board, 19 by 26 3/4 inches, 1913

By Carter B. Horsley

This evening auction of Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby's May 8, 2007 is highlighted by a luminous and great Futurist painting by Giacomo Balla, a lovely portrait of a harlequin model by Pablo Picasso, two fine works by Amedeo Modigliani, two very good works by Fernand Léger, two superb landscapes by Camille Pissarro, and excellent works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Lyonel Feininger, Paul Gauguin, André Derain, Edouard Vuillard, Marc Chagall, and two good watercolors by Paul Cézanne.

Lot 42 is a brilliant Futurist painting by Giacomo Balla (1871-1958). Entitled "Velocita d'Automobile + Luci," is an oil on gold paper laid down on board that measures 19 by 26 3/4 inches and was painted in 1913. It is one of several fine works consigned to the auction by the Neuman Family Collection.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"As early as 1910 Balla produced several studies of cars, some stationary and some in movement. However, it was not until he saw the 'photodynamics' by the Bragaglia brothers in 1912 that his reasearch on the theme entered into a new phase, resulting in a radical change of style, and ultimately in a number of works that are now regarded as icons of Futurist art. In developing his own version of Divisionism and abstraction, Balla was intially influenced by Etienne-Bules Marey's Chronophotography, a technique of capturing sequences of movement in a single frame. tTe main effect that Chronophotography had on painting was the dematerialisation of form, breaking up the image in a way that enabled the artist to translate the visual effect of movement into a pictorial language....The present work reflects Balla's transition from his kinetic, analytical phhase, towards the concept of the line of speed, in which he abandoned any kind of figurative representation of the moving object, and reduced light and speed to simple graphic symbols....Balla's focus has shifted from the moving object to the essence of movement itself, and the dynamic sensation of speed has become an autonomous entity and the main subject of the work. With its vortex of pure, abstract lines, Velocita d'automobile + luci presents the high point of Balla's art, and demonstrates the virtuoisty with which he achieved the Futurist ideal."

The lot has a conservative estimate of $3,500,000 to $4,500,000. It sold for $3,960,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article, breaking the artist's auction record of $737,000 set in 1990.

The sale was very successful with 55 of the 61 offered lots selling for $278,548,000 including the buyers' premiums, the highest total for an Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's since May, 1990 when it sold about $286,000,000 including a $78 million Renoir.

This was the first major auction in America in which Sotheby's introduced higher buyer's premium, a move that it initiated in London in February. Buyers must now pay a premium of 20 percent on the first $500,000 of their purchase and 12 percent on the remainder. Previously, they paid 20 percent only on the first $200,000.

The sales room was only about two-thirds filled as Sotheby's decided, according to a spokesman, that there had been too much standing room and so it opened a second room with television connections. Interestingly, the press contingent was much smaller than usual for a major auction.

David Norman, co-chair of the Impressionist & Modern Art department at Sotheby's, said he was "ecstatic" about the results and that bidding "was all over, an incredible breadth of bidding.

"Tete d'Arlequin" by Picasso

Lot 18, "Tete d'Arlequin," by Pablo Picasso, oil on beveled and cradled panel, 13 3/4 by 10 3/8 inches, 1905

While the Balla is certainly the auction's most important work, Lot 18, "Tete d'Arlequin," by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) is certainly the auction's crowd-pleaser and likely the most expensive lot. It has an estimate of $12,000,000 to $18,000,000. It sold for $15,160,000. Three years ago, Sotheby's sold "Garçon à la pipe," a larger painting by Picasso with the same model, for $104,168.000. The catalogue notes that this lot is one of "eight portraits of an anonymous adolescent boy, including the "Garçon à la pipe"...that are considered the artist's most significant productions of his Rose period....Picasso personally identified with the persona of the harlequin, believing his unquenchable lust for life and whimsy to be much like his own."

"Famille d'Arlequin" by Picasso

Lot 21, "Famille d'Arlequin," by Pablo Picasso, gouache and ink on card laid down on cradled panel, 11 5/8 by 8 1/2 inches, 1905

Lot 21 is a very vibrant gouache and ink on card laid down on cradled panel by Picasso. Entitled "Famille d'Arlequin," is measures 11 5/8 by 8 1/2 inches and was painted in 1905. It is property of the family of Joan Whitney Payson. It is signed. Its strong colors and squiggly lines are a bit atypical for the artist of this period and it is almost too beautiful. It has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It sold for $9,840,000.

"Homme à La Pipe Assis" by Picasso

Lot 16, "Homme à La Pipe Assis Dans Un Fauteuil," by Pablo Picasso, oil, gouache, watercolor and pencil on paper laid down on canvas, 12 5/8 by 9 3/4 inches, 1916

Lot 16 is an excellent work by Pablo Picasso that is entitled "Homme à La Pipe Assis Dans Un Fauteuil." An oil, gouache, watercolor and pencil on paper laid down on canvas, it measures 12 5/8 by 9 3/4 inches and was painted in 1916. It has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $4,744,000.

"Sylvette" by Picasso

Lot 32, "Sylvette," by Pablo Picasso, painted metal, 25 inches high, 1954

Lot 32, "Sylvette," is a painted metal sculpture by Pablo Picasso that is 25 inches high and was executed in 1954. The artist would return to this in 1968 when he created a huge sculpture that is in the plaza of University Towers in Greenwich Village. The lot has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $4,184,000.

"La Plage à La Garoupe (II)" by Picasso

Lot 46, "La Plage à La Garoupe (II)," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 31 by 75 inches, 1955

Lot 46 is a delightful, large oil on canvas by Pablo Picasso entitled "La Plage à La Garoupe (II)." Executed in 1955, it measures 31 by 75 inches. It has an estimate of $7,000,000 to $9,000,000. It was passed at $6 million. The first version of this work is in the collection of The National Museum of Art in Tokyo. They were executed while Henri-Georges Clouzot was filming Picasso at work.

"Nature Morte au Melon Vert" by Cézanne

Lot 8, "Nature Morte au Melon Vert," by Paul Cézanne, watercolor and pencil on paper, 12 3/8 by 18 3/4 inches, 1902-6

Lot 8 is a superb still life with a green melon by Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) that measures 12 3/8 by 18 3/4 inches. Executed in 1902-6, it is one of several Cézanne watercolors in this auction from the Eskenazi Collection. It was formerly in the collections of Paul Rosenberg, Robert von Hirsch, and the British Rail Pension Fund. It has an ambitious estimate of $14,000,000 to $18,000,000. It sold for $25,520,000 in a prolonged telephone bidding war in which Tobias Meyer, the auctioneer, inched the bids up only $250,000 each time. It broke the artist's previous auction record for a work on paper of $4301,990 when Mr. Eskenazi , a well-know dealer of Chinese Art, bought it.

"Groupe de Baigneurs" by Cézanne

Lot 15, "Groupe de Baigneurs," by Paul Cézanne, watercolor and pencil on paper, 7 1/4 by 10 1/2 inches, circa 1900

Another Cézanne watercolor, not fromthe Eskenazi Collection, is Lot 15, "Groupe de Baigneurs." It measures 7 1/4 by 10 1/2 inches and was executed circa 1900. It has a very conservative estimate of $900,000 to $1,200,000 given the fact that the subject is one of the artist's most famous. It sold for $1,608,000.

"Jesuiten III" by Feininger

Lot 22, "Jesuiten III," by Lyonel Feininger, oil on canvas, 29 1/2 by 23 1/2 inches, 1915

The cover illustration of the auction catalogue is Lot 22, "Jesuiten III," an oil on canvas by Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956). It measures 29 1/2 by 23 1/2 inches and was painted in 1915. It has an estimate of $7,000,000 to $9,000,000. It sold for $23,380,000, almost triple the artist's previous world auction record that was set only a year ago. The first version of this subject was painted by Feininger in 1908 and is in a private collection. The second version was painted in 1913 and is the Saint Louis Art Museum.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"He was extraordinarily capable of conveying spatial depth without being reliant upon gradations of color or excessive details. with its pictorial style and its color scheme,the present work represents a synthesis of the various developments that shaped the artist' oeuvre. Like his future Bauhaus colleague Kandinsky, Feininger believed in the association of music and oclor and inthe importance of fantasy in art."

"Portrait de Jeanne Hébuterne" by Modigiliani

Lot 26, "Portrait de Jeanne Hébuterne," by Amedeo Modigliani, oil on canvas, 18 1/8 by 11 1/2 inches, 1918

Lot 26 is a small but very striking portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne by Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920). An oil on canvas, it measures 18 1/8 by 11 1/2 inches and was executed in 1918, two years before the artist's death. Hébuterne was the artist's lover and she committed suicide in 1922. The lot has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $10,000,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $7,250,000.

"Jeune Fille Assise" by Modigliani

Lot 38, "Jeune Fille Assise, Les Cheveux Dènoués (Jeune Fille en bleu)," by Amedeo Modigliani, oil on canvas, 39 3/8 by 25 1/8 inches, 1919

Lot 38 is an unusual Modigliani for its rather pale, albeit pleasing, palette that is much less dramatic than most of his oeuvre and Lot 26. Entitled "Jeune Fille Assise, Les Cheveux Dènoués (Jeune Fille en Bleu)," it is an oil on canvas that measures 39 5/8 by 25 1/8 inches and was executed in 1919. It was formerly in the collections of Roger Dutilleul, Sam Salz, Nate B. and Frances Springold and Acquavella Galleries. It has an estimate of $12,000,000 to $15,000,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $9,250,000.

"Les Usines' by Léger

Lot 30, "Les Usines," by Fernand Léger, oil on canvas, 27 1/8 by 21 inches, 1918

Lot 30 is a magnificent and very colorful abstraction by Fernand Léger (1881-1955)(see The City Review article on a Léger exhibition), entitled "Les Usines." An oil on canvas, it measures 27 1/8 by 21 inches and was executed in 1918. It was formerly in the collection of Solomon R. Guggenheim. It has a modest estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It sold for $14,320,000.

"La Gare" by Léger

Lot 33, "La Gare," by Fernand Léger, oil on canvas, 25 1/2 by 31 7/8 inches, 1918

Another fine work by Léger is Lot 33, "La Gare," an oil on canvas that measures 25 1/2 by 31 7/8 inches. It was painted in 1918. It has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $4,520,000.

"Cavalier Devant La Case" by Gauguin

Lot 14, "Cavalier Devant La Case," by Paul Gauguin, oil on canvas, 21 5/8 by 13 3/8 inches, 1902

Lot 14 is a fine oil on canvas by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) entitled "Cavalier Devant La Case." It measures 21 5/8 by 13 3/8 inches and was painted in 1902. It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $4,856,000.

"La Lecture" by Renoir

Lot 20, "La Lecture," by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, pastel on paper, 31 7/8 by 25 5/8 inches, circa 1889

Lot 20, "La Lecture," is a gorgeous pastel on paper by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). It measures 31 7/8 by 25 5/8 inches and was executed circa 1889. It has a modest estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $5,024,000.

The catalogue notes that this work is relatedto an oil painting by Renoir that sold at Sotheby's in London last February and to a nearly identical pastel that was formerly in the Thannhauser Collection in Berlin, adding that the two models are probably the same who posed for the artist in "La Leçon de piano" and "Jeunes filles au piano," versions of which are in the Metrpolitan Museum of Art and the Musée de l'Orangerie and the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

"Mlle Bécat" by Degas

Lot 19, "Mlle Bécat aux Ambassadeurs (Cafe-concert), by Edgar Degas, pastel over lithograph, 6 3/8 by 4 3/4 inches, circa 1877-9

Lot 19 is a jewel by Edgar Degas (1834-1917). Entitled "Mlle Bécat aux Ambassadeurs," it is a pastel over lithograph that is only 6 3/8 by 4 3/4 inches. Executed circa 1877-9, it has been consigned by the family of Joan Whitney Payson. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $1,384,000.

"Paysage aux environs de Chatou" by Derain

Lot 7, "Paysage aux Environs de Chatou," by André Derain, oil on board laid down on cradled panel, 22 1/8 by 28 1/8 inches, 1904-5

Lot 7 is a strong Fauve landscape of the neighborhood around Chatou, France by André Derain (1880-1954). An oil on board laid down on cradled panel, it measures 22 1/8 by 28 1/8 inches and was painted circa 1904-5. It has a conservative estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $2,168,000. The catalogue notes that "although the present work is among the best of Derain's proto-Fauve works, it has escaped attention because it hung discretely in an American private collection for most of the 20th Century."

"L'Etang de Saint-Cucura" by de Vlaminck

Lot 13, "L'Etang de Saint-Cucura," by Maurice de Vlaminck, oil on canvas, 21 1/4 by 25 5/8 inches, 1903

Lot 13 is a good river scene by Maurice de Vlaminck (1874-1958) that was executed in 1903. Entitled "L'Etang de Saint-Cucura," it is an oil on canvas that measures 21 1/4 by 25 5/8 inches. Although its palette is a bit dark compared to the Fauve works that Valminck and Derain and Matisse would produce in the next few years and its impasto brushwork is reminiscent of Van Gogh, this is a strong landscape. It has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It failed to sell and was passed at $1,600,000.

"Weisser Klang" by Kandinsky

Lot 23, "Weisser Klang (White Sound)," by Wassily Kandinsky, oil on board mounted on cradled panel, 27 1/2 inches square, 1908

Lot 23, "Weisser Kland (White Sound)," is a stunning painting by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944). An oil on board mounted on cradled panel, it was executed in 1908 and measures 27 1/2 inches square. It was at one time in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Charles R. Lachman of New York. It has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It sold for $5,416,000. Kandinsky was very interested in music and the Jugendstil poetry of Stegan George, a German Symobolist, who focused the imagery of his poems on the sound of words rather than their meaning and emphasized the visual harmony of their design of the page. The catalogue suggests that the reclining figure in the painting may be the "dreamer" in George's poem "Weisser Gesang (White Song)."

Untitled abstraction by Kandinsky

Lot 41, "Ohne Titel (Untitled)," by Wassily Kandinsky, watercolor, pen, brush and ink and pencil on paper, 13 by 18 3/4 inches, 1922

Lot 41 is a fine, untitled abstraction by Wassily Kandinsky. A watercolor, pen, brush and ink and pencil on paper, it measures 13 by 18 3/4 inches and was executed in 1922. It has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $936,000.

"Le Banc (Jardin du Luxembourg)" by Vuillard "Le Kiosque (Place Vintimille)" by Vuillard

Lot 59, "Le Banc (Jardin du Luxembourg), left, and "Le Kiosque (Place Vintimille)," right, by Edouard Vuillard, both 39 3/8 by 19 3/4 inches, distemper on canvas, 1917 and reworked 1918

Lot 59 is a beautiful pair of distemper on canvas paintings by Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940) that each measure 39 3/8 by 19 3/4 inches and were painted in 1917 and reworked in 1918. At one point, there were in the collection of John T. Dorrance Jr. of Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. The lot has a modest estimate of $900,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $1,272,000. These paintings are two of the three paintings commissioned by Jean Laroche, who originally wanted the pair to have the shape of a violin, but their were subsequently reworked to their present shapes.

Pontoise landscape by Pissarro

Lot 5, "Le Fond de L'Hermitage, Pontoise," by Camille Pissarro, oil on canvas, 25 3/4 by 21 1/4 inches, 1877

Lot 5 is a superb landscape by Camille Pissarro (1830-1903). Entitled "Le Fond de L'Hermitage, Pointoise," it is an oil on canvas that measures 25 3/4 by 21 1/4 inches. It was painted in 1877. The vertical composition is very dramatic. The lot has a conservative estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,000,000. It sold for $1,720,000.

"Le Jardin de Maubuisson" by Pissarro

Lot 56, "Le Jardin de Maubuisson, Pontoise, Poirers en fleur," by Camille Pissarro, oil on canvas, 25 5/8 by 31 7/8 inches, 1877

Another Pissarro landscape of Pontoise done in the same year is Lot 56, "Le Jardin de Maubuisson, Pontoise, Poirers en fleur," is a fabulous Impressionist painting. An oil on canvas, it measures 25 5/8 by 31 7/8 inches. It has a modest estimate of $1,800,000 to $2,500,000. It sold for $3,400,000.

"Margot" by Toulouse-Lautrec

Lot 57, "Margot," by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, oil on canvas, 23 7/8 by 19 1/2 inches, 1881

Lot 57 is a charming work by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) that depicts "Margot," a dog. An oil on canvas, it measures 23 7/8 by 19 1/2 inches and was painted in 1881. It was once in the collectionof John and Frances Loeb. It has a modest estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $712,000.

"Le Grande Cirque" by Chagall

Lot 40, "Le Grand Cirque," by Marc Chagall, oil and gouache on canvas, 62 3/4 by 121 1/2 inches, 1956

Lot 40 is an enormous and superb oil and gouache on canvas by Marc Chagall (1887-1985) that is entitled "Le Grand Cirque." It measures 62 3/4 by 121 1/2 inches and was executed in 1956. It has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000. It sold for $13,760,000.

"Peinture (Le Cheval de Cirque)" by Miró

Lot 36, "Peinture (Le Cheval de Cirque)," by Joan Miró, oil on canvas, 51 1/8 by 38 1/8 inches, 1927

Lot 36 is a large and impressively simple abstraction by Joan Miró (1893-1983), entitled "Peinture (Le Cheval de Cirque)." Painted in 1927, it is an oil on canvas that measures 51 1/8 by 38 1/8 inches. It has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $10,000,000. It sold for $8,440,000.

"L'Idea del Cavaliere" by Marini

Lot 47, "L'Idea del Cavaliere," by Marino Marini, polychrome wood, 85 inches high, 1956

Lot 47 is a very large and impressive polychrome wood sculpture entitled "L'Idea del Cavaliere" by Marino Marini (1901-1980). It is 85 inches high and has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It sold for $7,040,000, breaking the previous world auction record of $2,996,000 for the artist. The artist had made a version of this work the previous year in plaster, a version that was cast in bronze in an edition of four.

Lot 43, "Contra-Composition VII," by Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931), sold for $4,184,000, way above his previous world auction record of $607,500.

See The City Review article on the Fall 2006 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's

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

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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